To remedy that, he suggests more signs and better signs. “I want people to see it and know what we have here.” Add to the signs some landscaping designed to make the area more attractive to the type of high-tech companies likely to be looking for a location.
Bettencourt said that his first year in office was devoted to boosting downtown Peabody, but in 2013 he is adjusting his focus to Centennial Park.
Among those keenly concerned with the downtown is Peabody real estate agent Arthur Gordon, who owns several buildings there. But he also sees the success of Centennial Park tied closely to success in Peabody generally. Moreover, he has a view on what needs to be done at Centennial Park that closely tracks the mayor’s.
“We probably need more flexibility in terms of usage,” Gordon said. “I know that’s playing with fire because it’s an industrial park.”
The dangers might include the arrival of businesses that completely change the nature of the area. Further, looser zoning regulations surrender some of the city’s control.
Yet, citing the success of the Cummings Center in Beverly, Gordon believes that Centennial Park could use some busy lunch spots and even good restaurants.
“One thing led to another (at the Cummings Center),” Gordon said, “and it’s gotten pretty wide-open. But opening it up, you could still have controls on it. I drive down there, and some buildings are empty.”
Low-interest loans would help, too, he added.
City Councilor Anne Manning-Martin likewise embraces the idea of expanding the purpose of Centennial Park. “I’m anticipating that that is what the mayor is heading for,” she said. “My speculation would be that he’s going to mirror the Cummings Center.”
Manning-Martin is open to the mayor’s other suggestions and expects that he’ll get a respectful hearing at the council.