By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — How do you get more businesses to Centennial Park? You might try flowers.
In fact, that’s part of the plan Mayor Ted Bettencourt outlined for the park’s business executives at a meeting last night at the Marriott. The city will institute “improvements to the (park) entry points, making them more attractive,” he said. That will mean “landscaping and new signage” off Route 128, Summit Street and Lynnfield Street.
This would happen in addition to the already accomplished rezoning of the park meant to alter its strictly industrial character and include businesses like restaurants and gyms.
“We want to find ways to accommodate you and make your businesses more successful,” Bettencourt said. The industrial park, which contributes heavily to the tax bill, is important to the city, he said.
Nearly 100 people turned up at the Marriott to listen to the mayor’s ideas.
“This is a fantastic plan,” said Doug Rosenfeld, a vice-president at Analogic, the park’s largest employer with roughly 1,000 workers. He cited Centennial Park’s ideal location at the nexus of several major highways as one of the factors keeping his people happy.
“It’s a crossroad for accessing people all across the North Shore,” Rosenfeld said.
The amenities urged by the mayor will make life better for his people, Rosenfeld said.
The mayor’s plan, which reflects a similar effort in the downtown, comes amid concerns that the industrial park isn’t drawing all the tenants it could. Recently, U. S. Foods announced it looking to relocate to Seabrook, citing a lack of space for warehouse expansion. On the other hand, ground has already been broken for a new building at 4 First St., the structure slated to house a restaurant and perhaps a gym.
Also on First Street, already in operation, is Centennial’s only barbershop, Buzz Barbers. Owner Jen Pitrowski attended the meeting and praised Bettencourt’s plan.
“I think this is an amazing opportunity for us. I’m excited about it,” she said.
Pitrowski thinks more activity in the park will send more people to her business, open for a year and a half. “Someone coming to the Marriott for a business meeting, and they realize they don’t look very good. And they’ll need to come here to freshen up.”
Bettencourt told the group that despite changes, the city “will always honor” Centennial’s role as “a great industrial park.” He encouraged the business people to approach him with any questions and added that the city will offer a survey to get more feedback.
“I thought it was a great time ... to start building relationships,” he said. “To seek your input.”
State Sen. Joan Lovely also spoke at the meeting.
Alan Burke can be reached at email@example.com.