There were a couple of good points made by Ward 2 Councilor Arthur Athas during the Community Development Department's preview Monday of changes proposed for Peabody Square:
The way Peabody District Court has turned its back on the square is nothing short of disgraceful.
Athas was being polite when he described it as "not the most attractive-looking building" downtown. Worse, one of his predecessors, Lou Cersosimo, pointed out, is that when the state asked the city for the land on which to build it, the courthouse was advertised as an important element of efforts to revitalize the area.
Modern security measures have resulted in the main entrance being moved to the back of the building facing Railroad Avenue and the creation of a rather forlorn concrete plaza out front.
Planners have now proposed moving the Civil War monument to what would be a new park in front of the courthouse overlooking the square. The judiciary should find some money within its budget to help with its maintenance.
Taking a cue from Salem, perhaps, Athas asked whether the new public spaces being proposed at several corners of the square might include room for outdoor dining. Now if they could only find a replacement for Brothers Deli to help fill those tables.
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Little wonder U.S. Rep. John Tierney's camp wants an answer from challenger Richard Tisei on how he would have voted on the Paul Ryan budget approved by the House recently.
Writing in The New Yorker last week, respected economics columnist James Surowiecki called the action of GOP congressmen "a vote to gut the federal government."
"It's true, of course, that this budget will never become reality; after all, the electorate likes most of the programs that House Republicans want to kill," Surowiecki states near the end of his piece.
As for the Ryan's contention that such austerity moves are essential to getting the federal deficit under control, Surowiecki notes, "The U.S. does need to get its finances in order. It just doesn't need to repeal the 20th century to do so."
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A reminder to readers of the News' opinion pages that the paper does not accept letters explicitly endorsing or denigrating candidates for office. With limited space and lots of letters on other subjects to get in, the goal is to avoid a war of written words among candidates' supporters.
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Former Peabody Mayor Michael Bonfanti was recently named to the board of the Essex National Heritage Commission.
During his tenure, Bonfanti was instrumental in the creation of the Peabody Leatherworkers Museum housed in the same complex as George Peabody's birthplace on Washington Street and was an avid collector of historic photos and artifacts for display at City Hall.
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Datebook: All Salem Democrats are invited to attend a meeting to reorganize the city and seven ward committees tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Bentley School ... all 6th District Democrats are invited to a caucus on Saturday, April 21, at 10 a.m. at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School to elect four male, four female and one male alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention Sept. 3-7 in Charlotte, N.C. ... DCAT, Danvers' cable access station, will host a forum for candidates in the contested races for selectman and School Committee to be broadcast live on Tuesday, April 24, at 7 p.m. ... the Hamilton-Wenham League of Women Voters will hold a forum featuring the candidates for the Wenham Board of Selectmen and Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Committee on Wednesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. at Wenham Town Hall.