(The following statement came from Mayor Ted Bettencourt, who this week announced that he will seek re-election in November. If others would like us to post a candidate statement, either for the state rep special election or the fall city election, please send it to us here, and we will run it in the Eye unedited.)
By Edward A. Bettencourt, Mayor of Peabody
When I first ran for Mayor I had a long list of things I felt needed to be done in order for Peabody to reach its potential. While I believe we have accomplished a great deal so far during my first term, much work lies ahead. I respectfully ask the voters for another term to keep our momentum going.
Overseeing the construction of a new Higgins Middle School will be chief among my second term priorities. Last spring, we sought and received community support – including unanimous votes from both the City Council and School Committee – to build a new school rather than renovate the current facility. Then in July, the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to accept our new school preference.
A new Higgins is vital to Peabody’s future because our middle school program represents such a critical phase of academic preparation. I am committed to seeing the project through the design phase this year and then working to build a school which will best serve the educational needs of generations of Peabody students.
The ongoing Main Street revitalization project was also an important first term accomplishment, but that represents only the beginning of downtown transformation, and that the next phase will be a key focus of my second term. The project, slated to be completed this spring, is funded by a combination of state and local grant money. It aims to ease Main Street traffic, improve parking and pedestrian safety, and transform the entire corridor into a more attractive place for residents and businesses alike.
We will have made Main Street a more desirable location but the next step is to decide what we want our downtown to be. We cannot just try and copy our neighbors because Peabody is unique. We need our own vision, our own character and our own way forward.
To that end, I’ve called for the creation of a new Master Plan for the city with a keen focus on downtown Peabody. Peabody’s last Master Plan was completed more than a decade ago, and no longer reflects the realities of today’s landscape. In crafting a new blueprint for Peabody’s future, we plan to cast a wide net and tap into the expertise available those from private industry, academia, state and local government, and everyday Peabody citizens.
We need to engage in careful planning and take a deliberative approach to executing a sound strategy. There is a lot at stake in terms of Peabody’s future and I am committed to doing the hard work necessary to get it right.