Monday, April 11, 2011


Congressman Tierney Introduces Bill in US Congress Regarding National Guard

At the annual celebration of the first muster of the National Guard on Salem Common, Congressman Tierney announced that he had filed a bill in the US Congress to designate Salem as the official birthplace of the National Guard. Every member of the Washington delegation has joined Congressman Tierney to support the legislation and the City of Salem and the region. The City and the State have previously issued their support with appropriate designations relative to this matter. The designation will add to the lure of Salem’s history, and may result in another reason for a visit to Salem and this area, and will help the already strong tourist appeal of the region as a whole.

Gloucester Continues to Improve the Visitor Experience

In a recent posting, I reported on the creation of a new visitor focused web site for the City of Gloucester. Now the City is developing an attractive and informative series of etched glass and pressed metal markers that will tell a story about Gloucester. Submissions for the walkway that will front the famous harbor are now being collected by the community and may include stories, photos, pictures, views, art or nature. When completed the new walk will certainly add to the visitor experience when visiting
the historic port city.

Commitment to disability Access

In the community briefing section of the Boston Globe North last week, a note appeared that indicated that the residents of the Town of Westford in nearby Middlesex County acted in a positive manner and voted an appropriation to add an elevator to make an current elementary school accessible to disabled students. The cost of the improvement will be expensive, but the voters certainly acted responsibly in this matter. I wonder how the school was originally built without the proper access available.

City of Salem Parking Plan Moves Forward

For a number of months the City of Salem has been holding pubic hearings on a new revolutionary downtown parking plan. The plan will call for the most desirous spaces nearest to the downtown to be priced at the highest level. Spaces furthest away will be priced lower for those willing to walk a bit further. Riley Plaza may be reconfigured to add more spaces, and some of the resident’s only spaces in the downtown may be eliminated until late in the day. There will be smart parking meters installed that will take credit or debit cards and a $25 per month pass for some spaces will be available for some downtown workers. All parking spaces will be for four hours, but charges for overtime parking will be dramatically increased encouraging turnover. For those occasional visitors to Salem, it will be wise to know of the new rules, but there will be better signage and increased educational outreach. The study concluded that there are sufficient spaces in town, to handle demand, and this new plan will hopefully work quite well when implemented, and properly managed. The cost of implementing this plan will be expensive and will be funded by seeking grants or borrowing, but in the long run it will produce more revenue than are being collected now. The plans as prepared will be presented to the City Council soon for approval, and if all goes well the plan could be rolled out in the fall before the avalanche of fall visitors arrive for Halloween. The process of gaining approval has always been problematic in Salem, but the plan appears to have some public support. In the recent media reports there was no mention of handicap parking issues, but I am certain that issue has been considered.

Hospital Sale Could Result in Windfall for Local Communities.

If the reported sale of the Northeast Health System holdings in this region to one of the two for profit hospitals bidding for the hospital takes place as rumored, the Communities of Beverly, Danvers and Gloucester could receive a major windfall in increased real estate taxes collected from the new for profit entity. In these difficult financial times, the increased revenues would be well received in the three communities. I would not count the cash quite yet, as negotiations could take some time,

Danvers Motel Issues

Governor Patrick has prepared a budget and a plan for reforming the way homelessness is funded in the Commonwealth and presented it to the State Legislature. If that new plan is not adopted, the Town of Danvers could once again be negatively impacted. I n recent days the number of families living in Route 1 motels in Danvers is once again growing. The difficulty for Danvers is an increasing number of school services that it must provide to these new residents and other demands like the services provided by the local food pantry and other community council programs. I urge the local legislators to examine the Governors proposal and make the changes needed to satisfy their needs to protect the Town of Danvers from another unfunded mandate. During the last run-up of new families being relocated to the many motels in Town, the local government embraced the newly placed residents and welcomed them warmly, but financial times even now are more difficult, and if the population in the motels grows as quickly as suspected, some funding support from the Commonwealth will be required

Salem Five Annual Meeting

After a nearly four decade career at Salem Five that ended over a decade ago, it is a pleasure for me to remain as a corporator of the bank and to be able to attend the annual meeting each year to learn of continuing progress. The bank remains a most active community advocate, and provider of support for worthy causes. Salem Five bank is a wonderful supporter of the work of Essex Heritage, and is one of our proudest business partners along with a number of other local financial institutions. They are, along with others, as they have been in the past a supporter of the Heritage Hero event scheduled for May 19, 2011 in Danvers, where Essex Heritage will honor its three newest hero’s. As of the date of the recent meeting Salem Five is the 4th largest bank in the Commonwealth and are offering services in twenty–two locations around the region, with more branches planned. We as a region continue to be most fortunate as three of the top five banks in assets in the State are headquartered in Essex County with our friends from Eastern Bank at the top of the list of leaders. During the most recent business year the bank set a new record for mortgages closed in a single year as, $1.3 billion in residential loans were closed. Consolidated net income earned for the year was more than double from the previous year. This business performance allows the bank to continue to be a generous contributor to worthy causes around this region. In addition to making financial contributions to organizations in the area, the bank continues to offer the support of many of its executives who serve in volunteer roles at not-for-profits in the region it serves, starting with President Gibbons who serves on the board of the local Boys and Girls Club. Other bank executives like Ken Ellis and Kim Meader serve Essex Heritage and John Hall serves as Chairman of the North Shore Chamber.

Yesterday’s Annual Meeting outlined some remarkable results that showed how well the bank is performing in a difficult financial environment.

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