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Houston Astros moving to Peabody? Of course not. Happy April Fools Day

1 Apr

UPDATE: We’re sorry to report that this deal has fallen through. Hope you had an enjoyable April Fool’s Day.

stadium

Rendering of a new proposed ballpark that could be home of the Houston Astros

 

By Jack Ryder, Special Eye Correspondent

The Eye has learned that Mayor Ted Bettencourt will call a special meeting of the Peabody City Council ASAP to discuss a proposal by the Houston Astros to move their struggling Major League Baseball franchise to a new 43,000-seat baseball only stadium that would be built on the current site of the Peabody landfill off Farm Avenue.

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane would neither confirm nor deny that he was moving the National League team, but a source told the Houston Chronicle it was a “done deal,” and that “it’s all about the fine details and financing now, but it looks certain that the team will play north of Boston starting next season.”

Initial reports are that the team will be re-named “New England,” still play in the NL, and that the team will hold a contest with fans to choose a  new nickname. The Astros recently moved to the American League, but according to MLB sources, Commissioner Bud Selig will ask the owners to approve a move switching the Astros back to the NL so they don’t compete directly with the Boston Red Sox.

The source told The Chronicle that the Astros were looking for an assurance of public funding by both Peabody and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Mayor Bettencourt is being asked to commit $100 million in taxpayer dollars toward the construction of the $750 million stadium (seen here in the artist rendering). The NL team is also reaching out to Peabody State Rep Leah Cole in an effort to get a $200 million commitment from the state, which would help fund a light rail transit connection from the Salem Commuter Rail station, with stops in Peabody Square.

“This would be an incredible boost to our redevelopment efforts for the downtown, provide hundreds of jobs, and a huge, lasting boost to our commercial tax base,” said a source at city hall, who wished to remain anonymous.

The Astros would also offer up naming rights for the new stadium, and according to sources, Peabody tech firm Analogic, billboard giant Total Outdoor Corp, and General Electric have already all expressed interest.

“We like the location for sure, since it’s near some pretty major Interstates,” the source told The Chronicle. “Mayor Bettencourt and the other Peabody officials have been very accommodating during the negotiations. Looks pretty good right now that this will get done.”

The struggling Astros, who finished with baseball’s worst record last season were also fourth worst in baseball when it came to attendance. TV ratings for their games were so poor, that the team’s sports network, Comcast SportsNet Houston, was forced to file for bankruptcy last September.

The Astros had just $186 million in revenue last season compared to almost $400 million for the Boston Red Sox.

If this becomes a reality, the Boston area would join New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles as the only cities to have AL and NL MLB teams.

More details to come tomorrow on April 2nd.

Patch editor will be missed: Thanks for the great coverage, John

30 Jan

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

John Castelluccio

John Castelluccio

Long before I became a  “citizen” journalist, and long before I started making my living as a B2B Publishing company executive, I was proud member of what they used to call the Fourth Estate. I was what some might even refer to as an “ink-stained” wretch, making my living off of newspapers as a reporter, editor and columnist.  The pay stunk and the hours were long, but I always prided myself in doing the job accurately and fairly.

Unfortunately, today there are very few local newspaper reporters and editors left who take similar pride in their work. Case in point is a dying publication called the Salem News. The News these days is the realm of hack “journalists,” who go through the motions, collect a paycheck, and could care less about accuracy or thoroughness. Even though I haven’t made my living as a print journalist in 14 years, I still do love newspapers and newspaper journalism, so it’s a shame to see us stuck with such an amateurish publication as the Salem News.

This is why yesterday’s news about a good guy and dedicated local journalist losing his job also truly makes me sad.  As part of a worldwide cutback by the company that owns the Peabody Patch, editor John  Castelluccio was laid off yesterday along with hundreds of other editors across the country.

John is talented, and I feel he will definitely land on his feet somewhere else soon. But it’s a loss for us here in Peabody, since his coverage of local issues and local politics was truly superior to the coverage we’re stuck with in the local daily newspaper.

On a personal note, I just wanted to thank John not only for his professionalism, but for his fair and accurate coverage during my two campaigns for city council the past four years.

Good luck, my friend. You’ll definitely be missed by those of us who appreciate accuracy in journalism.

Peabody to honor victims of Marathon terrorist attack

21 Apr

By Eye on Peabody

ribbonThere will be an interfaith prayer service in Peabody on Tuesday night to remember the victims of the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. The service will be held at St. John the Baptist Church at 7 p.m.

More details here in this Peabody Patch article.

To donate to the official charity for the victims of the bombings, please visti the One Fund.

Catching up on nice honor for local hero … and more

22 Mar

(Just catching up on some things after a very busy month for work travel and the campaign.)

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Local hero Alex Romano

Local hero Alex Romano

Starting this off today by talking about an honor for a “local hero,” and a young woman who should be a model for other Peabody teens to follow.

Peabody High senior Alexndra Romano was honored this week as a local hero by the American Red Cross of Northeast Massachusetts for going above and beyond in putting together a campaign to help people who became homeless because of Hurricane Sandy. Alex called her campaign “Kill the Chill,” and it included collecting clothing and blankets, and collecting donations for storm victims, which were quickly put to use by the Red Cross.

Alex and her sister Lea are both very active in their community when it comes to public service, and it’s an awesome thing to watch in these days when many young people would rather spend their free time playing video games.

The sisters also each year organize the “Caring Carolers,” who roam our Goodale Street-area neighborhood during Christmastime singing carols door-to-door while collecting money for Haven From Hunger. Not only do they get their friends together to sing for a very good cause, but their visit to your door really makes you feel good and get into the Christmas spirit.

Angela and Mike Romano must be very proud parents!

 Want to know why we are stuck with Comcast?

Mayor Ted Bettencourt  says he is asked on an almost daily basis why Peabody is not home to any alternative providers of cable TV, high-speed internet and telephone service. Conspiracy theories abound but it turns out the answer is simple and straight forward, according to a press release The Eye received from City Hall this week:

“At this time, no other provider of the phone/cable/ internet trio of services has expressed an interest in coming to Peabody,” Mayor Bettencourt tells The Eye. “We would like residents to have a choice of providers and would certainly welcome other options. At this time however, none of the alternatives to Comcast has stepped up with a proposal.”

Mayor Bettencourt said he understands Peabody residents’ frustration with the lack of choice here. “I absolutely understand their frustrations,” Bettencourt said. “Having a choice helps assure we get the best value for our money. When there is no competition in the marketplace, people feel like they are at the mercy of a monopoly. In the final analysis however, we cannot force these competitors to set up shop in Peabody against their will.”

With some of the best known alternatives out of reach for now, Bettencourt says the city may turn its attention to niche providers who offer similar services on an individual or dual basis rather than the heavily marketed three-in-one portfolio.

“We recognize the benefit of having more than one provider of cable, phone and internet service,” said Mayor Bettencourt. “If another provider sees a market in Peabody, we are all ears.”

 Our sign of the times: Great job by Smuz and the Mayor

Hats off to Mayor Bettencourt for holding firm and instituting the cease and desist order, and to City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski for his skillful argument in court this past week on placement of the giant billboard on Lowell Street near Route 1.

Judge Howard Whitehead agreed with city officials — the 92-foot pole is definitely not where they thought it was going to be installed when he ruled against the city last year.

As reported in the Peabody Patch, Smerczynski says the issue now for Whitehead to decide is whether that truly was because of a clerical error when the plans were submitted in court or a broken promise first made to appease local officials who didn’t want the billboard there at all off Lowell Street. The city and the owner of the billboard, Total Outdoor Corp, argued their sides in Salem Superior Court this past Monday. Definitely more work to do in court before this is resolved. Stay tuned.

 Should be either Dunne or Gravel, but Cole could surprise

Going to be a very interesting Election Day on April 2 when people go to the polls to vote in the State Rep special election. Because name recognition is so important, I honestly think it’s between Democrat Beverley Griffin Dunne and unenrolled candidate David Gravel. But there is a lot of money being pumped into Republican Leah Cole’s campaign by the Republican Party and the Ron-Paul-inspirted Libery Movement. There’s also a lot of unhappiness these days with traditional candidates, so Cole might actually pull a solid number. It’s not my State Rep district, so I sort of feel cheated here. I can’t even vote! …

Great job by Councilor At-Large Tom Gould while handling the MC duties at last Saturday’s First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Roast and breakfast at City Hall. Also, a lot of surprisingly funny performances by some local politicos. I mean, who knew Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz and Mayor Bettencourt were actually funny guys? It was a really fun morning for a really great cause as all the ticket and raffle money went to Haven From Hunger.

If you are in the 12th Essex State Rep District: GET OUT AND VOTE on April 2nd!

Seeing the trees through the forrest, and catching up on other Peabody news

7 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Catching up on some things today while taking a break from writing about the state rep special election.

Capital punishement for Peabody trees?

Capital punishement for Peabody trees?

Turns out that Massachusetts’ ban on capital punishment doesn’t extend to trees.

Jennifer Pinkham Davis, Peabody’s Director of Parks and Recreation, recently told the City Council’s sub-committee on Legal Affairs that — under state law — any citizen can have trees on city property cut down at any time and at taxpayer expense.

Davis says that, if a citizen asks for a tree to be cut down, the city must go out, examine the tree and determine if it’s a danger to the public. In some cases, the roots of these trees make sidewalks impassable, and potentially dangerous. But it doesn’t stop there: Davis says that, if the city determines the tree is healthy and no danger to public safety, citizens can still petition and have it removed. And most times, the citizen wins.

But here’s the rub: Many times completely healthy trees that pose no danger to the public are cut down, and it can cost the taxpayers up to $8,000 per tree.  And … sometimes the resident’s reason for cutting down the tree can as frivolous as “the leaves are making a mess on my lawn.”

To stop this process, Davis is hoping the City Council can create an ordinance that would send that $8,000 bill to the person demanding the destruction of a healthy tree.

Stay tuned.

Peabody Police: Alert on a utility scam

ppdThe Eye is running the following alert from the Peabody Police:

This is a regeneration of an alert sent 02/21/2013 regarding National Grid. PMLP has received customer reports that they are now calling alleging to be from PMLP.

They tell the customer that their account is delinquent and to avoid power shut off they must pay now via credit card. They then use the credit card data to make fraudulent purchases. If you get a call from someone stating they are from PMLP collections, report it to PMLP and the Peabody Police Department. PMLP does not collect over the phone nor threaten shut off in this manner. If you can capture the originating phone call on caller ID please report the number.

Free parking for veterans coming to Peabody?

Postal worker Daniel Heafey has asked the City Council’s Legal Affairs Sub-Committee to pass an ordinance that would provide free parking for veterans in Peabody.

Heafey, a Cold War veteran (1974 to 1978), who blames some hearing loss and a bad knee to some tough work as a military police officer, said he was parking downtown recently and was troubled when he could only park for 15 minutes after putting a nickel in the meter.

“I put a nickel in the meter,” Heafey said. “I was gone for 15 minutes, and I got a ticket.”

No details yet on how the city would enforce this possible new ordinance.

 Tickets still available for St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast & Roast

Ttickets remain for the City of Peabody’s First Annual St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast and Roast,  which will take place on Saturday morning March 16th from 9:00 to 11:00AM in the Frank L. Wiggin Auditorium at Peabody City Hall.

“We have gotten a terrific response for this first St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast and Roast,” said Mayor Ted Bettencourt, “Judging by the demand for tickets, this event is destined to become a longstanding Peabody tradition.”

The public is welcome to attend the breakfast, which will feature Irish music by “McGeney and Moore” and good natured roasting of some of the city’s best known politicos. The cost is $30 per person and all proceeds benefit the Haven from Hunger. Tickets must be reserved in advance as there will be no tickets sold at the door to the event.

Those interested in attending the breakfast should contact Mary Bellavance at 978.538.5704.

Update: Full council to take up St. Adelaide pedestrian light safety issue

22 Feb

By Eye On Peabody

Just a quick update on an earlier story here: The Peabody City Council Public Safety Subcommittee last night voted to recommend that the full council commission a study for installing a pedestrian light in front of St. Adelaide Church at the spot where an elderly pedestrian was struck and killed by a car on Jan. 27.

It was another step in the process of making the Lowell Street crossing safer for those attending mass and other events at the church. To read full details on last night’s subcommittee meeting, please click here.

Peabody holding vigil in honor of CT school victims

19 Dec

By Eye on Peabody

hookMayor Ted Bettencourt is inviting the public to take part in a candlelight vigil tomorrow night (Dec. 20) in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. The ceremony will take place,  6 p.m., in front of Peabody City Hall.

“As we struggle to come to terms with such a senseless loss of precious life, we may find comfort in the company of fellow members of our community,” Mayor Bettencourt said in a statement released to the Eye.  “I invite all those who wish to honor the memory of the 26 victims of this tragedy to join with us in solemn vigil.”

If you would like to donate to the Sandy Hook Support Fund, please click here.

State Rep race fallout, a firefighter museum … and more random thoughts

10 Dec

Take our poll on your choice in the State Rep special election

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Random thoughts while wondering how long it is before we hear that the offices in Beverly of my “favorite” newspaper have been turned into a new Super Walmart. …

I’ve been writing a lot lately about the looming race for State Rep, but it should also be interesting to see what affect the special election will have on Peabody’s city election in the fall. With Dave Gravel and (maybe) Anne Manning, and Beverley Dunne throwing their hats into the ring, the rep race is likely to leave at least one open seat on the city council or school committee.

But the fallout on the fall election could be even more far reaching. It’ll be interesting in the coming months to see which pols and elected officials choose which sides, and how those alliances affect the city elections. Right away, the Eye wonders what Mayor Ted Bettencourt will do.  Both Beverley and Dave supported the mayor in his race against Sean Fitzgerald, so we wonder if Ted stays out of this rep race battle. One thing is likely certain, though:  The mayor won’t be supporting Ms. Manning should she get into the race. Anne was a big supporter of  Fitzgerald in 2011.

As for this blogger’s plans. All I can say right now is that I don’t have any. Was asked on Sunday about that by someone, and my response was I have not ruled out another run for councilor at-large.  But … as soon as constant companion reads this, I’m sure she will smack right in the head for not ruling it out here. :)

 Peabody Fire Museum is a hidden gem

You have to check out the old Peabody fire house and museum next to Brooksby Farm

Fire house museum near Brooksby Farm is a hidden gem

Stumbled upon one of Peabody’s true hidden gems on Sunday when constant companion and I toured the Peabody Fire Museum next to Smith Barn at Brooksby Farm.

The circa 1875 building housed Peabody Engine Company 3, which was originally located on Endicott Street. Not only has the fire house been preserved, but we were amazed to see the incredible artifacts stored there in what has to be one of the best firefighter museums on the North Shore. It’s only too bad more people don’t know about it. What a great job by the Peabody Historical Society in preserving and maintaining it.

Speaking of Peabody Firefighter history, the Eye sends out its condolences to the family of Leonard Marshall, PFD retired, who recently passed away at age 87.

Elsewhere, while cleaning out my mind’s notebook

In the Peabody Patch, there’s some very nice video from Sunday’s Holiday Festival at Peabody City Hall.  …  Looking for some good burgers and a way to help out the kids in the Peabody High band tonight? Check out this fundraiser going on at Fuddruckers … Also from the Patch, congrats to these Top 10 Spelling Bee winners from the Lions cluster at the Higgins …

Since he was good to this blog on Sunday and gave us the low down on his decision to not seek the State Rep seat, I won’t charge Tom Gould an ad fee for the following statement:

“Try the eggnog ice cream” at Treadwell’s  It’ll put you in the holiday spirit. …

I think the Patriots win tonight against the 11-1 Houston Texans on Monday Night Football in Foxboro. Aside from the fact that the Pats’ defense seems to be coming together at the right time, and Tom Brady has been in way more of these big games than Houston QB Matt Schaub, I just have a feeling that this is going to be a blowout. Of course, if Brady has a great night, my fantasy team is going down in flames this week,  since that’s who my opponent starts at QB. Anyhow, Pats 45, Texans 20 …

(Please follow Bob on Twitter @EyeOnPeabody)

Rocha second in nationals

8 Dec

Eye on Peabody,

Congrats to Peabody’s Catarina Rocha, who today placed second among the best of the best high school female distance runners in the country at the Foot Locker Cross-Country Nationals.

You can read the rull details here in the Peabody Patch.

Santa Claus is coming to (Peabody) town on Sunday

7 Dec

By Eye on Peabody

santaPeabody’s 29th Annual Holiday Festival takes place on Sunday, Dec. 9th, at City Hall.

Come meet Santa, and get in the Christmas spirit!

Here are all of the details as provided by the mayor’s office:

  • 4 p.m. Carols performed by the PVMHS Full House A Cappella in front of City Hall.
  • 4:30 p.m. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at City Hall.
  • 4:35 p.m. Mayor Ted Bettencourt lights the official tree with the assistance of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
  • 4:45 p.m. Mayor, Santa and Mrs. Claus lead audience into Wiggin Auditorium, City Hall.
  • 4:50 p.m. Greetings Welcome to Santa and Mrs. Claus.
  • 5 p.m. Children visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, entertainment and refreshments.
  • 6:15 p.m. Closing.

This event is free and open to the public. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the mayor’s office at 978-538-5704.

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