, Salem, MA


February 5, 2014

Letter: Vote 'No' to put citizens first

To the editor:

The current Phase 1 plan of the Brimbal Avenue interchange project has been problematic since citizens first got wind of it late last summer. There was an utter lack of transparency in the planning process, no serious effort to seek resident input into the plan, neglect to factor in the existing traffic problems on both ends of Brimbal, prioritization of the desires of a developer, a false sense of urgency, and a conflating of the two phases of the project when convenient but a separation when not.

Despite an abundance of unanswered questions, our political leaders unfortunately failed to demand or communicate answers. Because of efforts by the North Beverly Neighborhood Association to hit pause on this process and ask questions, we have been able to get some, but still not all, of the answers. We now know that MassDOT and Jacobs Engineering think it will be extremely problematic and costly to build a new connector road on CEA’s landfill due to serious settlement problems. We also now know that even if we vote down the rezoning and the land swap, we can utilize the $5 MassWorks grant to make the necessary road improvements on the existing footprint.

This new information means that regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the necessary road improvements will be made, the $5 million grant will be used, we will get tax revenue from a plaza on the land next door, and we will be able to pursue Phase II. NONE of those things depend on which way the vote goes. What this referendum now impacts is WHERE the road improvements will be made — on the existing road footprint or on CEA’s landfill. Because building the road on the landfill is both unwise and unnecessary, I encourage citizens to vote “No” to prevent that from happening.

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