The difference in cost is Boston and Bridge streets $5 million and Memorial Drive $7 million, a difference of $2 million. In my opinion, the city could sell 5 Broad St., presently the Senior Center, for between $1 and $2 million or more, especially since the housing market has been booming. So using simple arithmetic, the figure of $2 million will now be narrowed down to a few hundred thousand dollars. I am sure that money could be found in free cash. No need to borrow or bond any money.
Also, there was plenty of time in the last year or so to plan the financing of the project, time not to renew the lease for the City Hall Annex on Washington Street. Had the administration not renewed the lease, it would have freed up the $400,000 annual rental fee, which could have been used to finance the new senior-community center, as easy as that. The blame rests with the mayor and some city councilors. All the wasted time was not the fault of the pro-Memorial Drive site citizens; it rests solely with the administration. No foresight and poor financial planning. However innocent, one councilor publicly stated that the process was rigged. I think he should explain what he meant by that statement.
Lastly, the Memorial Drive site is a natural money maker, in that it could be rented out for weddings and other similar functions. It has the potential of making thousands of dollars yearly.
The money to finance the construction and maintenance of the facility is there, and it is not too late to get the project back on track.
Anthony V. Salvo
Anthony Salvo was mayor of Salem from 1984 to 1989.