September 2, 2020
To the editor:
We are grateful for the opportunity to respond to a recent letter to the editor published on Friday, Aug. 28 (”Salem needs problem solvers, not obstructionists”).
“Not for Sale.m” is a diverse group of neighbors from all over Salem sharing concerns about overdevelopment. We’re regular people coming together trying to figure out how to make things better. We want development that is compatible with our historic neighborhoods and that doesn’t overburden our infrastructure, city services and the environment. The kind of development we see happening in Salem now is detrimental to all the residents of our city, especially to the elderly, families with modest incomes and people of color. These large-scale developments are increasing the cost of rentals and making home ownership even less attainable than before.
The sale of several cityowned properties for luxury residential developments is extremely concerning as we talk about the housing crisis and selling off additional city-owned land. We strongly support the redevelopment of these sites for truly affordable housing, but the newest proposals for Broad Street and the Superior courthouses do not appear to fulfill these needs. In addition, the proposal for the Salem Housing Authority property at Fort Lee Terrace involves demolition of 50 units of senior housing to build 65 of the same with the addition of 159 “market-rate” units in a five-story building that will set a new precedent for height in that area. We need to work for better solutions.
Many thanks to the private citizens and city councilors who spent exhaustive hours diligently rewriting the recent Municipal and Religious Overlay District ordinance. As first proposed, the ordinance would have allowed for new buildings to be built as high as the tallest existing structure on redeveloped sites throughout
Salem (St. James’ steeple for example). The work of these dedicated problem solvers greatly improved the ordinance which was then passed by the Council enabling redevelopment of historic properties. To call them obstructionists is to dismiss their huge contributions in getting this ordinance passed. We are proud to have some of them joining us in this coalition.
The Aug. 21 Globe editorial cited in the letter to the editor, “Housing will test white support for Black Lives”, does not reflect the demographics of our community. Salem is not a “wealthier, better-schooled” town that is closing its doors to newcomers or a “garden and golf” community that is resisting density. We are already one of the most densely populated communities in Massachusetts and our schools are in the bottom 10% of state rankings. Using this false equivalent to support zoning changes in Salem does little to protect the vulnerable people living here, and may exaggerate the educational and environmental inequality that we already see across the region.
We invite SAFE (Salem Alliance for the Environment) to work with us on these projects; many of which are planned for wetlands and floodplains. We also encourage the League of Women Voters to provide balanced viewpoints on development that will help everyone understand the risks and benefits of development and enrich our civic engagement.
Hardworking generations before us saw fit to preserve the beauty of Salem and now we invite you to stand with us as stewards for future generations.
Please join us on Facebook: NOT FOR SALE.M COALITION or email us at: stopoverdevelopmentsalem@ gmail.com
STACIA KRAFT , ALVI IBANEZ , STEVE KAPANTAIS