SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 13, 2013

Time for an affordable, state-of-the-art senior and community center

To the editor:

I was happy to see that Mayor Kim Driscoll has finally realized that the seniors of Salem will hopefully get an up-to-date center, which they have anticipated for many years. This is in no way a criticism of Mayor Kim Driscoll. Please look at this in a constructive manner.

“Mayor Driscoll states that she is trying to jump-start efforts to build a new center, a quest that has dragged on long enough.”

This, I totally am in agreement with. Now, let us examine the pluses and minuses. We should work together on an issue that will benefit all of Salem’s citizens. Health and quality of life are more important than gold.

Since I was a member on the committee, I have felt that in the life of the committee, it was very clear that the Boston and Bridge streets site was not the committee’s choice. It will create another traffic gridlock. The city has enough traffic gridlocks, and it can’t afford any more. No matter how one interprets the minutes of the lengthy study on the site location, it is without a doubt that the Boston and Bridge streets site was not chosen as No. 1 for a number of valid reasons I will explain. The site that we the committee recommended was on Columbus Avenue next to the Girl Scout camp right smack on the ocean with no pollution whatsoever. Since we already own the Columbus Avenue site, the cost to build a brand-new center would be approximately $15 million. But the city could earn rental money through weddings, reunions and the like. It could be a moneymaker. This could make Salem a more envious place to live. It could make up for the sewage plant and the Salem Harbor Power Station. This is a positive way to change the image of Salem. We wanted land that the city already owned. I will admit, however, that the Boston and Bridge streets lot was mentioned as one to be considered, and that is where the confusion started. I don’t recall who brought in the motion to consider Boston and Bridge streets, and we did consider it. But that is as far as it went. Columbus Avenue is the best site for all ages to enjoy. It will be more than a senior center. It could be a community center with the elderly having top priority. It is in walking distance to the Willows commercial area, where one could buy a Chinese chop suey sandwich and watch the water activities. A pleasant way to enjoy a hot summer day.

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