First, the Courthouse project. Quote from the city’s email this morning:
CHANGE IN TRAFFIC PATTERNS
Be aware that on or about JULY 7, 2008 the new traffic signals will be operational, traffic patterns will change, and the East Ramp between Bridge Street and North Street will be permanently closed.
How will it go? We’ll find out!
The buildings at Federal and North haven’t come down yet as of Monday. Asbestos removal was continuing.
MBTA: Beverly will get its parking garage for the train station downtown. I’d like to take a moment to congratulate the city of Beverly, its administration and city council. I also want to congratulate our administration and city council and most of all, our Federal St. Neighborhood Association for making sure that there are no good changes in Salem, indeed for insuring that nothing changes at all. As I’ve said before, Mayor Scanlon should make a bid for the courthouse complex; even though preliminary construction is already under way, we can always use more vacant lots and buildings to turn into condos named after Bertram, Bowditch and Hawthorne.
Money has been earmarked for a new depot in Salem, however, the timing is very uncertain, which I take to mean won’t happen. As John Keenan explains:
"I don't think the state can afford the project by itself," he said. "I think we have to try to partner with somebody
This is the situation in Beverly as well. I’m worried about that aspect; whenever there is a public-private partnership, there are no end to the problems one hears about.
When DCAM made its presentation on the Courthouse project this past spring, an MBTA representative discussed the plans for the garage. Among other features of the project, a restaurant was proposed.
A friend of mine watched the DCAM meeting on SATV and was livid. A restaurant? At the courthouse!?
He had obviously conflated the courthouse—which does not feature food service so far as I’m aware—with the proposed MBTA station.
As I explained to my friend, it’s very common to have restaurants and small convenience stores at transit facilities like Salem Depot. You need only go to the newly expanded North Station and buy a coffee or a hamburger. Beverly Depot has or had a restaurant near the tracks. The old Salem Depot (at the south end of Riley Plaza) once had a newsstand until it floated away during a big water main break that flooded the whole downtown and its train tunnel in the late 70’s.
Indeed, during every morning rush, a catering van parks at the platform at Salem, serving passengers running for the train.
That will cut no slack with Federal St. I can already hear the complaints, “It destroys the character of the area”, “It takes business away!”, “It’s Salem, not Boston!”
A scenario I fear is that either there’ll be no commercial partner—they’ll be scared away towards opportunities that don’t have NIMBYs with them—or the only commercial partner we find will be somebody not in the best interests of Salem or its transit users: Think condos, and more of them. We know how well that worked out.
I don’t think my friend was much convinced by my explanation. The neighbors won’t be, either.
That $17 million the state has spent for Salem’s Last Road looms very large. It could have paid for the train station by itself in 2005.