SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

November 30, 2012

Benton: Taking the politics out of development

(Continued)

But in a community where a handful of protests can scuttle even the most common-sense development proposals, creating commercial zones where facilities like pot dispensaries would naturally feel out of place is a difficult task. Former Mayor Mike Bonfanti has often noted to this reporter that Peabody would have been a much better location for the regional judicial center that recently opened in downtown Salem, but the fact is opposition equal to only a tenth of that mounted by neighbors of the Federal Street location, would have been sufficient to kill such a project in the Tanner City.

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Can’t let the week go by without a mention of the legendary Cape Ann newspaperman Peter Watson, who died Saturday at 73.

I first encountered Watson when he was general manager of Essex County Newspapers, whose Beverly Times was the main competition for the then-Salem Evening News, where I worked. He came across then as gruff and reserved, but following the merger of the two papers in 1995, he became a good friend and valued mentor.

Watson was a big believer in the importance of a newspaper’s opinion pages in fostering community dialogue though not only its editorials, but the letters to the editor and local columns it published. The evidence can still be seen today in the volume of letters that continue to be published in this newspaper and the Gloucester Daily Times, where Watson served as editor from 1970 to 1983.

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Nelson Benton spent 40 years covering politics on the North Shore before retiring from The Salem News. Contact him at nelson.benton3@gmail.com.

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