There could be more than 1,000 people at a time, but they won’t have cars — meaning the traffic congestion that is the bane of peak tourist season here would be minimal. They could take trolleys or have buses ready to meet them, or walk to the sights in the Derby Street neighborhood and downtown.
That would be a welcome development for many of the neighbors along the way, because the neighborhood, after all, is not just residential but also commercial — and it always has been. It includes The House of the Seven Gables, Pickering Wharf, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and dozens of businesses, from ice cream parlors and restaurants to florists and gift shops. Indeed, one of the arguments the neighborhood made to National Grid in opposing its plans to dig up Derby Street was that it would disrupt so many businesses. Instead, the project is expected to move to a quieter residential neighborhood off Salem Common.
For Salem residents, this is a familiar issue. There are times when the influx of tourists drives us nuts, and, yet, we love the money they bring in; the seasonal jobs they provide, particularly for teenagers; and the lively restaurant scene they help to sustain. It’s a trade-off. And in that context, the arrival of what is estimated to be, at most, a dozen cruise ships over the course of a summer does not seem overwhelming.
By all means, let’s monitor the impact and do what we can to minimize disruptions to Ward 1 residents. But let’s not change course now and try to hold back the city’s long-planned waterfront development. That’s something that can benefit everyone in Salem.