SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 4, 2014

Scanlon: Help make Beverly better: Vote 'yes'

The upcoming vote on the rezoning of a small parcel of land necessary to allow significant traffic safety improvements at the Brimbal Avenue/Route 128 interchange to proceed is very important.

To understand why these improvements, to be funded by a $5 million grant recently awarded to the city of Beverly, are so important, one needs to look back at least two decades into Beverly’s history.

During the 1980s and into the early 1990s Beverly was governed as a bedroom community with no emphasis on economic development and job creation. There was no emphasis on creating the revenue needed to upgrade city services and infrastructure. That experiment ended with a massive deficit of more than $8 million, schools in disrepair, a junk bond rating and a city nearly in receivership.

A great many of you have located in Beverly since that time and do not know firsthand how bad it was back in 1993. It has certainly gotten better, a whole lot better and a key reason is that Beverly has accommodated appropriate new growth. New growth, as you may know, is the translation of building permits into construction and then into new tax dollars. Without that new growth averaging more than $1 million annually over now nearly two decades, the major improvements we have jointly made to our schools, our parks, to flood control and our quality of life would have been impossible.

During this period, while appropriate new growth has been welcomed, we have been very careful not to add even one square inch to the land set aside for business within the city. Years ago one acre in every seven within our city was zoned for the combination of industry and commerce. Of that entire land mass set aside for business, fully one-third of it is the property on both sides of Brimbal Avenue in the nearly one-half mile stretch along which there is not a single home.

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