SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

January 8, 2014

Our view: In our cities, high hopes

Inaugural addresses, ultimately, are about hope.

For the region’s mayors, inauguration day is a chance to start fresh, to tout successes and lay out priorities for the new term. If Monday’s speeches were any indication, it will be an ambitious few years on the North Shore. While much has been accomplished, there is still plenty of work to be done.

In Salem, Mayor Kim Driscoll, who won a third term handily against token opposition, listed a litany of projects either proposed or already underway in the busiest city on the North Shore:

“A new power plant to lower regional carbon admissions, free up acres of developable property on our waterfront and improve public access to our harbor ... a university residence hall that will take hundreds of students out of our residential neighborhoods ... an expanded wharf, trading coal ships for cruise ships and opening up public access to parts of the waterfront that had been closed to us for generations .., congestion alleviation on some streets — and traffic calming elsewhere ... a beautiful new community life center of the quality our seniors so richly deserve.”

In Peabody, Mayor Ted Bettencourt rightly talked of “a city on the rise.”

Bettencourt, who was unopposed in his bid for a second term, spoke of progress in remaking the city’s downtown, which included a $1.9 million Main Street realignment project designed to make the area safer for pedestrians and more attractive for shoppers and those looking for a dinner out.

“The early reviews are in, and they are overwhelmingly positive,” Bettencourt said Monday. “Traffic flow is indeed slower — perhaps too slow for some and we will need to make adjustments where needed — pedestrians are safer, and the area looks more inviting than it has in years.”

The renewed attention to downtown has attracted a new round of development, with interest in a boutique hotel on Peabody Square and the redevelopment of an adjacent property that will bring more housing to the area.

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