SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

January 1, 2014

Letter: Brimbal Ave. group responds to questions about upcoming vote

(Continued)

Question: Would a “no” vote by the majority of voters stop the development of the land on Brimbal that includes a proposed Whole Foods?

CEA can develop on their current property, and a “no” vote won’t stop them from doing so. However, if they choose to develop, they will be responsible for traffic studies, traffic mitigation and disposal of the contaminated landfill located on their property. It was discussed at the Brimbal Ave. Advisory Committee meeting that additional money for environmental remediation will be required to develop on CEA’s parcel of land. If the rezoning/land swap does not go through, CEA would be incurring those expenses if they decide to build; if it does go through, the taxpayers would be taking them on.

According to Jacob’s Engineering, 15,000 cubic yards of soil will need to be removed from the CEA property in order for new drainage pipes to be laid down for Phase 1. The expense of removing 15,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil hasn’t been factored into the cost of the project, let alone the potential health risks and environmental hazards associated with the former landfill. Currently, the projected cost of the project is $5.1 million without additional environmental costs or hazardous-waste disposal expenses factored in. The taxpayers will be responsible for these additional expenses if the land swap proceeds.

Question: Can the proposed $20 million state project that includes building a new bridge over Route 128 with access to Dunham Road, the music theater and potentially developable land on either side of the highway, with potentially less impact to residential neighborhoods, proceed without the $5 million Brimbal interchange project occurring?

The proposed $20 million Phase 2 of Brimbal Interchange project could proceed without the Phase 1 $5 million project. Originally, there was only one phase of the Brimbal Ave. project, and it did not include the same roadway changes (e.g. rotaries) that are currently in the Phase 1 plan. The project was divided into two phases in order to start with a smaller project, since the second phase (the new bridge over 128) is such a major project that may not occur anytime in the foreseeable future. Still, there are other ways of creating Phase 2 without pursuing Phase 1. In fact, Phase 2 would make Phase 1 largely irrelevant.

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