SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

January 8, 2014

Our view: In our cities, high hopes

(Continued)

“These two projects alone hold the promise of injecting millions of dollars into the heart of Peabody Square,” he said. The new year, he said, will see work begin on the $92 million Higgins Middle School project, the reclamation of Crystal Lake and Elginwood Pond, and the restoration of the historic City Hall and Peabody Institute Library.

Beverly’s new mayor, Michael Cahill, focused less on construction work and more on openness during his speech, promising an “open and inclusive” era of city government.

“As I take office today, I believe that I have some good ideas — and that so do each and every one of you,” the former state representative and city councilor told the citizens of Beverly Monday “That’s why I believe so strongly that we will shape the best future possible for Beverly by doing it together.”

At Monday’s inauguration, Cahill, who bested City Councilor Wes Slate in November, announced the formation of a committee to address the concerns of residents and businesses affected by the impending repaving of Rantoul Street later this year and promised his administration will hold a series of community meetings this year “on various topics and projects.”

The talk of openness was an indirect reference to Cahill’s predecessor, William Scanlon, whose strong leadership during his 18 years in office transformed the city for the better but drew criticism from those who felt left out of the decision-making.

Cahill, fortunately, understands the need for “meaningful and appropriate new economic growth” to protect and improve quality of life and keep tax bills in check.

One area that could have used more attention in all three speeches was the deepening problem of local poverty. The number of people in poverty on the North Shore has increased by 20 percent over the last decade, according to the United Way. More than half of the people in poverty on the North Shore live in Salem (25 percent), Beverly (17 percent) and Peabody (16 percent).

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