The Salem City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to appropriate $100,000 to acquire a small parcel of the 4.86-acre former Chadwick Lead Mills site on the Salem-Marblehead border.
When all is said and done, the result will be a simple green space abutting Salem Harbor and the Forest River on the Marblehead Rail Trail at no cost to residents.
According to Salem Ward 1 Councilor Robert McCarthy, chair of the Committee on Administration and Finance, Essex County Greenbelt - a nonprofit dedicated to preserving green space in Essex County - has secured funding to reimburse the city for its purchase of the site.
The $100,000 is set aside as an act of good faith to show that Salem is committed to acquiring and preserving the land so that the city can apply for a PARC grant. Essex County Greenbelt has agreed to reimburse the difference - up to the entire amount if no grant is awarded - and the city will not be on the hook for any work required by the Department of Environmental Protection.
"Basically, we set aside the money to have it available to let the state know that we're serious about it," McCarthy said.
The town of Marblehead had tried for years to develop a housing complex on the contaminated land - which is currently owned by Glover Estates LLC and Arthur Avenue Realty Trust - to no avail. The town recently decided to develop the land into simple green space, and voted unanimously at Town Meeting to purchase the portion of the site - about 3.47 acres - within its border for $1.5 million.
About 1.39 acres of the land is located in Salem.
Salem council members want language in any agreement the city enters into that prohibits Marblehead from ever developing its portion of the land into anything other than green space. They should have no problem getting it, as Salem's portion of the site land locks Marblehead's. The only way to access any potential development would be through property of the City of Salem.
"I want to make sure that once we buy this it's done for life, it's a park for life, and it would take an action of the state Legislature to change it," Sosnowski said.
Ryan Mooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.