, Salem, MA


July 16, 2013

Our view: A new milestone in Danversport

When an ink and paint plant exploded just before Thanksgiving in 2006, it was clear that Danversport would never be the same.

The blast destroyed dozens of nearby homes and businesses. And though there was, remarkably, no loss of life, it was a traumatic incident that led neighbors and town leaders to rethink just what this mixed-use neighborhood should look like in the future.

We’ve watched through the years as Danversport was rebuilt, changing slowly in the process. Many of the modest waterfront homes became less modest and more expansive as they were torn down and rebuilt following the explosion. Some businesses have been restored, but town leaders are much more conscious of what kinds of commercial activity should locate near residences. The blast site itself has remained a vacant eyesore and constant reminder of the neighborhood’s worst night.

Now that, too, is about to change. The Planning Board last week approved the siting of a boatyard on the property, six months after Jeffrey Bunk, who owns Bunky’s Marina on Liberty Street, purchased the land from the former owners of the destroyed factory. Bunk, who described the site as an “open wound” with its rusting tank and burned trees, had it cleared in January.

This was not an entirely smooth process; another nearby marina objected, but the two businesses worked together to resolve those concerns. A neighborhood resident didn’t like the design of the proposed building, so Bunk agreed to improve it. The result may not make everyone 100 percent happy, but it will be a vast improvement over the chemical factory that once stood next to neighbors’ homes.

In fact, the spirit of compromise that emerged in this process speaks to one of the good things to come out of this disaster: the way people put aside whatever differences they may have had to pull together, help one another, and create a new — and safer — neighborhood for the future.

That’s one thing we hope will never change.

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