SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 13, 2013

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

(Continued)

I might add that for financial reasons, the city could renovate the present site at 5 Broad St. for $2 million, more or less. An architect examined the present center and said that the center was structurally sound and recommended that it could be redesigned to make it a state-of-the-art center. The only disadvantage is parking, but the same goes for the Bridge and Boston streets site, since no parking will be designated for the proposed city condominium. Parking at Broad Street never was a prohibiting problem, and, in fact, it offers more parking than the Boston and Bridge streets location.

First, the location that some officials have chosen is an unhealthy one for seniors, and all ages at that, since the center could be utilized as a community center. That site is one that is heavily traveled by automobiles, trucks and buses. The toxic fumes alone are unequivocally reason not to consider that site. Would you want your mother or grandmother or your children to frequent a senior or community center whose atmosphere is contaminated with toxic air? I should say not. And on top of that, those who would walk to the center would put their lives in jeopardy crossing the street. Also, the seniors would have to stay inside since there will be no designation for grass or trees to sit under. Land will only be used for parking.

The land site has formerly been used as a leather factory and a Sylvania plant. Both have contributed toxic chemicals into the soil. Remember the Sylvania poisoning that caused many employees to get sick or die? This is another valid reason not to consider a contaminated site.

The city will pay $5 million for a condominium on the first floor. But instead of using a federal loan to pay for the city’s $5 million share, the city plans to finance it through traditional bonding, which will stretch over several decades — a long time. If I remember correctly, the $5 million will first be paid to the developer in order that the developer can proceed with the project. Also, the financial agreement mentioned nothing about the condominium fee. Correct me if I am wrong, but I recollect that an arrangement was made that in place of a condo fee, the city would provide the upkeep of the large parking lot that it will sit on. That could include sweeping the parking lot and painting the lines for parking. Also, the city will have to pay the city employee’s salaries. That will not be a fair trade-off since the city has enough to do taking care of the sidewalks and streets, police, fire, education, health, and all other city services. It would add more costly line item expenses. Aside from the $5 million, the pollution and the condo fee arrangement, the city will come out with the short end of the stick.

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