Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon’s nerves were somewhat high as he walked through the rainy City Hall parking lot to deliver his annual state of the city address Tuesday night.
About 40 minutes later and in front of nearly 50 of his supporters and colleagues, Scanlon wrapped up his speech, which touched upon the city’s accomplishments as well as crucial improvements Beverly needs to make.
“I feel a little bit relieved,” Scanlon said after he finished his address. “But I feel proud, and good.”
The mayor not only spoke of the city’s achievements, which included upgrading most of the city’s schools, but he also emphasized three imperative improvements that need to be made: to public safety facilities; public service facilities; and streets and sidewalks.
“There is, however, a project on the horizon on which I have worked hard for several years whose completion will yield the new growth necessary to fund all three of these needs and more,” Scanlon said in his address.
The Brimbal Avenue Interchange Upgrade, which will cost an estimated $25.5 million, has the potential to create as many as 7,500 new jobs over a period of up to 10 years, Scanlon added. The upgrade is designed to reduce traffic accidents, create an orderly flow of traffic, and reduce time and fuel costs.
The project is divided into two phases. Phase one, which will cost a total of $5.5 million, will modify the northbound exit on Route 128 at Sohier Road by creating an expanded connector between Sohier Road and Brimbal Avenue.
Phase two, which will cost an estimated $20 million, is more expansive and involves constructing an overpass across Route 128. The overpass will open up land on both sides of Route 128 for potential development without any zoning changes, Scanlon said.
Although the mayor is excited about this project, its completion is not written in stone and will take many years.
“Please remember the thousands of good jobs that are anticipated to result from this development benefiting the entire North Shore,” Scanlon said in his address. “… Despite my enthusiasm and persistence, and the high probability of success, the completion of the Brimbal Avenue project is not a certainty.”
The construction of the upgrade might be far from complete, but the mayor has support from his colleagues.
“His priority right now is the Brimbal Ave. exchange,” said state Senator Joan Lovely, who grew up in the surrounding area. “It’s a big outline as a priority for the city. So that’s very important to Mayor Scanlon’s administration. It’s something certainly as a senator that I want to support. He knows best as being the mayor, the leader of this community.”
Other members of the community, including Mary Roderick, 75, oppose the multimillion dollar project.
Roderick has lived in town for nearly 30 years. She’s part of an organization called the Beverly Safe Drinking Water Alliance. Roderick said that the construction of the Brimbal Avenue upgrade could tarnish surrounding bodies of water.
“I don’t like the idea of the 128 interchange because it threatens the water supply,” Roderick said. “There is a pond right near that area that is part of the area where the water supply is. Development in that area is really not a good idea.”
Mayor Scanlon also touched upon another new project, which he said he is especially excited about.
Richard Wylie, the president of Endicott College, has decided to build a full-size rink plus another smaller ice surface on the campus as part of a new activity center.
“The city and Endicott are working together to make this facility available to the Beverly community for public skating, youth hockey, public school hockey for both boys and girls, and other activities, all at attractive rates,” Scanlon said in his address. “My hat is off to President Wylie and his board of trustees for making this important decision, which will add greatly to the quality of life in Beverly.”