The City of Beverly is anticipating a decision regarding its $5 million grant request for MassWorks Infrastructure funding this week. This funding would be used to construct Phase 1 of the Route 128/Exit 19 Interchange Improvement project. If that decision is favorable, I will be pleased to see the matter of rezoning the state-owned parcel, which is a critical component of this project, be placed in front of all Beverly’s voters in a special election. I welcome giving the voters from across the entire city the opportunity to endorse or turn down the Exit 19 Interchange upgrade and the $5 million in grant funds to fund its construction.
The MassWorks Infrastructure program is intended to spur economic growth and encourage the creation of additional housing while, in our case, also improving major transportation issues related to safety, congestion and time wasted in long lines of traffic.
This roadway improvement project is key to Beverly’s economic future. Its implementation will not only fund major improvements to our roads and sidewalks, but it will also provide the means to allow the city to upgrade badly needed infrastructure, including public safety and public service facilities. It will also allow us to further improve the quality of public education, the best gift we can give our children.
Many complaints have been received in my office about the pressure tactics employed by individuals gathering signatures to call for a special election and their presentation of misleading information, such as telling people to sign regardless of whether they are for or against the project. Despite these methods, I look forward to a vote from all of Beverly’s registered voters.
I recall a similar question arising some years ago related to the rezoning of the parcel, from industrial to commercial, on which the Elliott Street Stop & Shop is now located. In that case, the requisite number of signatures was gathered, and the issue was put before the people. Beverly’s citizens voted resoundingly in favor of the rezoning, with supporters of rezoning carrying a strong majority in every ward and, indeed, every precinct.