To the editor:

In 1995, then-state Rep. Mike Cahill had this to say in favor of the city acquiring 1 Water St., along with funding from the state: “Thousands of Beverly residents stand to benefit from better public access to the Beverly Harbor waterfront. Our waterfront was once an ideal place for a leisurely stroll along the docks, to cast a fishing line, to launch a family outing, or to eat a picnic lunch while watching the boats come and go. With the support of a DEM Urban Self-Help Grant, these scenes could once again be possible in Beverly. In a recent interview with the Salem News, now-Mayor Cahill complained that the city has not “realized a nickel” on the property since it was purchased. Have the mayor and others in our fair city forgotten that the lot was purchased for “parks and recreation” purposes so that the people could recreate on what is virtually the city’s only public access to the harbor?

Perhaps the fact that successive administrations have viewed this property as a tax generator is the reason that we’ve arrived at this juncture, where our chosen developer is already looking for changes to the sweetheart deal the city has proposed. The city is being asked to delay the tax break offers until July 2022.To add insult to the town’s fiscal injury, the mayor has the gall to suggest that this delay is caused by, according to the Salem News, some neighbors questioning the validity of the lease, prompting the city to seek legislative approval. Mr. Mayor, obviously if the lease was valid, you wouldn’t have had to scramble to get Rep. Parisella and Sen. Lovely to slam through a home-rule petition removing our obligation to preserve the property as “park and recreation” with two weeks left in the legislative session. This action erased the efforts over many years to preserve the property as a park and the mayor was well aware of the legal obstacles that were faced. To blame concerned citizens who were acting within the law to stop an illegal transfer of city property, at considerable expense, is a canard that won’t quack Mr. Mayor. It’s a slap in the face that won’t soon be forgotten.

Now, after considerable city expense removing the existing McDonald’s building, which the city let fall into disrepair, the lot sits vacant while Mr. Bloom puts together his financing. I suggest that the city grant no relief to the developer and if that doesn’t work for him, let him back out of this deal so we can pursue the original intent of our mayor, the state, and the city. A small facility on the old McDonald’s footprint (too bad we couldn’t have preserved it) with restrooms and “in the rough” food service would be nice. Of course that means that it will be a park, not a profit center and a traffic and parking nightmare. It will be a harborfront park. No tax breaks now or for the 40 years we propose leasing out our park!

Peter Willwerth



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