, Salem, MA

January 28, 2014

Letter: Beverly has a choice to make

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

As a parent of two children in the Beverly Public School system — a second-grader at Hannah School and a fifth-grader who will be at Briscoe Middle School next year, I strongly support a “Yes” vote on the Feb. 8 referendum. I have closely reviewed the information that has come out of the many hours of public hearings and from the proponents and opponents.

If you, like me, are an advocate of quality education, schools and services in the city of Beverly, you have good reason to vote “Yes”. Due to the limitations of Proposition 21/2, we are extremely constrained as to providing the revenues necessary to adequately fund our schools, to say nothing of required improvements such as the new middle school. Without the revenues provided by commercial development in areas that are zoned for it, we will not be able to afford the education our children deserve, to say nothing of other required city services, such as repairing all the inadequate streets, a face lift for the downtown, and a public safety facility that replaces the tired and inadequate ones we have.

The area that is involved has been zoned commercial/industrial for many years. It’s an abandoned city landfill that is currently bringing nothing to the city. As a result of this proposal, it will be cleaned up and improved in an environmentally sound manner, as approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection and paid for by the developer.

This area will be developed, one way or the other. The question is: Do we want a very high-quality project anchored by a first class tenant like Whole Foods, or something we know nothing about? Do we want to give up $5.2 million of roadway improvements to be paid for by the state resulting in intersections that are rated A, or do we want to stay with our existing situation rated F?

There is a simple answer. Voting “Yes” will result in more commercial tax revenues for desperately needed city services, improved traffic flow and safety, and economic development in a place that has been zoned for it for decades.

Patrick Gorman