To the editor:
In 1984, I went to work in the City of Salem Planning Department as a 24-year-old recent college graduate. At that time, the city was in great need of a new senior citizens center.
Recently, I received an application for an AARP card in the mail, making me, by definition, a senior citizen, and in the ensuing 28 years, the city has not yet built a senior citizens center.
Though the 28-year wait has been an unfair burden on Salem’s elderly population, it has resulted in an interesting opportunity to not only build this much-needed senior center, but along with it catalyze the redevelopment of this former industrial site with the Gateway Center, a $30 million office and commercial building.
The estimated $400,000 in new tax growth that the Gateway Center will generate, coupled with the construction and permanent jobs that the Gateway Center will create, make this an easy decision for our City Council.
The development is located on a commercial entrance corridor into our city, thus offering wonderful centrality to the hundreds of seniors who will use the site each day.
Further, the Gateway Center represents Salem’s largest nonretail and nonresidential commercial development in decades. There can be no talk of traffic impacts, as this site sits on a commercial entrance corridor, and if a community doesn’t encourage a well-designed office building on a blighted, former heavy industrial site located squarely on one of its commercial entrance corridors, then exactly where WILL that city encourage development to occur?
I see “Build it Now” buttons popping up all over Salem. Yes, build it now and provide our seniors with a senior center, create jobs, create tax revenue and eliminate the blight that has existed on this site for close to 20 years.