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Local News

February 8, 2013

Senior center back on agenda in Salem

Mayor's new finance proposal could cause City Council showdown

(Continued)

After further investigation, she chose the Boston and Bridge streets location, in part because of finances -- a price tag of $4.9 million, as opposed to an estimated $7 million at the other locations.

The city signed a $5 million purchase-and-sale agreement with developer High Rock LLC to buy a large portion of a proposed four-story building for a senior/community life center. The remainder of the building is slated for professional offices, such as medical and law offices.

The parcel at the corner of Boston and Bridge streets, the former site of a Sylvania plant, has been vacant for years. The city’s Council on Aging currently operates at 5 Broad St. — a facility the mayor says has long been outgrown.

“I’m embarrassed when I walk into our senior center now,” said Driscoll. “The time is now. We can’t afford to wait.”

Driscoll is asking councilors to approve a bond to pay for the city’s portion of the project. The estimated $400,000 in property tax revenue the development should bring in would cover the annual bond payments, she said.

“This feels like the sprint to the finish of a very long race,” Veno said.

If the financing proposal is voted down, the city not only will lose the community center but the redevelopment of a long-vacant lot, Driscoll said. High Rock officials have said they would not go ahead with the project without the community center as the anchor.

If the financing is approved, construction could start as soon as possible, Driscoll said.

Councilor William Legault, who was appointed to the board last month, said he has yet to make a decision about the project’s financing.

“There’s still numbers to be crunched,” said Legault. “I will keep looking at the numbers and information, meet with people and make a decision when the time comes.

“I have heard from a few people, not many. I’m not getting a whole lot of negative feedback (about the project),” Legault said. “People are tired of this discussion (over location) coming up every time the senior center comes up.”

Bethany Bray can be reached at bbray@salemnews.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.

 

 

 

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