To the editor:
For many years now, there has been discussion about problems that plague downtown Peabody and how to address them. They range from flooding issues, lack of investment, pedestrian unfriendly, and speeding traffic to even a general feeling among many residents that downtown can never return to its former glory as the hub of the city.
While change might not come about as quickly as we would like, the city is being proactive in addressing these issues. As the construction project in downtown Peabody begins to wind down, I think it is important to reflect just how far we have come. It took over seven years to get to where we are today, encompassing three proposed plans, many public forums and debate that included both residents and businesses, as well as compromise on all sides. Is it perfect? Probably not. Surely there will be some “growing pains” as people get used to the new traffic configuration, but there are several important things to remember about this project:
1. Pedestrian and motorist safety were the main reasons for engineering and design behind all of the changes being made on the Main Street corridor, including being ADA compliant.
2. Main Street is not being reduced to two lanes, but rather the lanes are being reconfigured to provide dedicated turning lanes at high-traffic areas. This will allow through traffic to proceed more smoothly.
3. This project does not involve a redesign of Peabody Square, so the intersection of Main/Lowell with Foster/Central streets will remain as is for the time being.
4. Angled parking is not being implemented.
Of course, the beauty of this project is that it also allowed the city to improve the aesthetics of downtown, as well, with the addition of brick sidewalks, crosswalks and landscaping. I encourage you to come downtown and support a local business! If you haven’t been here in a while, you might find that you are missing out on some great restaurants, specialty retail stores, a new park, a community art center and many services. Let’s all do our part to help keep these small businesses around.
While we would all like the convenience of being able to snag a parking space right outside the front door, that is not always possible. But with lots available on Foster, Central and Wallis streets and Nichols Lane, there is plenty of parking available within a short walk of almost any store, restaurant or business. (I can almost guarantee you will have to walk no farther than a parking space you might otherwise find when you visit the mall.)
Yes, there is still work to be done. I am confident that this project is just the first of many changes to come and sets the stage for future progress in transforming our downtown into a vibrant destination.
President & CEO
Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce