, Salem, MA

January 18, 2014

Letter: Whole Foods would be a boon for Beverly

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

I am writing this letter to urge Beverly residents to come out and vote “yes” at the Feb. 8 Brimbal Avenue referendum. By voting yes, we will get the Whole Foods plaza, and we will get the $5 million to move the Route 128 connector road and eliminate the existing, unsafe roadway that the state Department of Transportation has ranked an “F” in terms of safety.

There are some residents on Brimbal Avenue who have expressed concern about this development. However, their strenuous efforts to stop planned road improvements and a Whole Foods Market seem misguided and contrary to their own interests, as well as the interests of their fellow Beverly residents.

Before we moved to Beverly, we saw firsthand the substantial generosity and vigor in which our neighborhood Whole Foods store supported local nonprofit organizations, from the food bank to the little-known neighborhood shelters serving homeless women and children. You can see their support in local soup kitchens to adult literacy all through the state.

I have learned that Whole Foods will give at least 5 percent of its profits every year to Beverly non-profits and schools. That is incredible. Whole Foods has already identified Beverly Bootstraps as an ideal partner to support (financially, with food donations and with resources) and has already committed to donating a salad bar to a Beverly school, to encourage healthy eating at a young age. On the North Shore, Whole Foods has already given support to the Women’s Fund of Essex County, the Natural Living and Learning Center at the Beverly Athletic Club, St. John the Evangelist School, Northeast Arc, YMCA of the North Shore, Ayers Ryal Side PTO and the Beverly School for the Deaf, among many others.

This support is just a drop in the bucket compared to what could be coming for Beverly. Once Whole Foods has a store in Beverly, there will be dozens of organizations that will receive financial support from Whole Foods. I’m convinced that Whole Foods offers an extra bonus to neighbors: the convenience of a Whole Foods Market anchoring a plaza that includes one or two good restaurants will likely raise the values of nearby homes.

Beverly deserves to have this Whole Foods shopping option. I look forward to putting an end to my inconvenient drives to the Swampscott and Lynnfield Whole Foods stores. But I will never give up my local options. I will still buy my fish at Rowand, no one can match their halibut, and go to Vidalia’s many times a week for their delectable foods and artisan products. Their locally grown potatoes bring the county of Cork into your kitchen, harvested only miles from Beverly Farms. I will continue to bring home the fabulous Henry’s Market prepared meals. Their kitchen is superb. Just last night we savored their famous chicken pot pie and chocolate cake.

Please don’t let a vocal, misinformed minority mislead you and deprive Beverly of what it deserves. There will be development regardless of the outcome of this referendum. If the “no” vote wins, a shopping plaza will still be built, but Beverly will have lost the opportunity for road improvements to handle the future inevitable traffic, and will lose a new Whole Foods shopping option along with its much-needed support for our community.

Please do the right thing for Beverly and vote “yes.”

Lisa Van Allsburg