Tag Archives: Peabody

Potential catastrophe averted in Presidential Heights fire

27 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

 

More details will emerge here, but The Eye has learned that the fire at 13 Madison Ave in West Peabody last night was no ordinary garage fire. Turns out that the owner of the property was likely storing a large amount of chemicals in the structure as part of a swimming pool service company.

FF

The fire caused a strong odor, and a series of small, but frightening explosions before the Peabody Fire Department arrived.

 

Were it not for an outstanding job by the PFD, this could have spread to nearby homes, resulted in major property loss, and perhaps injuries to residents living in this Presidential Heights neighborhood.

 

“You could see the black smoke and the smell was really bad,” a neighborhood resident told us this morning. “There were a few explosions as well. It was very frightening.”

 

According to city records, the property is owned by Joseph Carpenito, who also owns Pools Unlimited. On its website, the company lists 13 Madison Ave as its office.

Below is a Google Earth image that shows the location. Note the close proximity of other homes. The large garage that burned is to the back right of the property.

madison

Independent fiscal watchdog group critical of job done by Rep Ted Speliotis

17 Aug

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Call this another public service message from The Eye, but the flyer below came in the mail yesterday from the non-partisan and politically moderate Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a watchdog group that rates the performance of all members of the Massachusetts Great and General Court, no matter what their party affiliation. 

This weekend, they brought us this report on State Rep Ted Speliotis, who is being challenged for his 13th Essex District seat in November by Tom Lyons. A big chunk of the 13th Essex covers West Peabody.

Here’s what the MFA presented. I’ll allow our audience to read it and judge for themselves. As always, please let us know what you think in the comments section.

TEDS

Phil Lavoie: Peabody loses one of its truly good guys

12 May

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

In the 1970s, when you first became a teen-aged dude, your first form of rebellion, your first effort at independence usually involved what was on top of your head.

Once hitting 13, it would be no more getting haircuts with your old man, who liked to take you to his old-school barber and say “make him look decent.” That statement usually meant you were going to walk around for the next month looking like a character from “Leave It To Beaver.”

Phil Lavoie ... passing of a great guy

Phil Lavoie. The passing of a great Peabody guy

But something changed for me when I hit 13. Something new and totally different opened on Lake Street next to Muntsy’s Subs. No more haircuts with the old man. I was going to “Headquarters For Men,” at the time a new wave of men’s hair stylists, who would allow you to leave their shops looking less like Jerry Mathers, and more like Derek Sanderson.

Phil Lavoie didn’t flinch when you told him you wanted your hair to still cover your ears, and didn’t argue later on when you wanted to experiment with a mullet.  With this approach, this new school barber built a loyal customer base. Keep the ears covered when I was 13. Shave it up close to the scalp and over the ears by the time I reached 40.

“Headquarters,” which moved from the Muntsy’s Plaza to a location further down Lake next to 7 Eleven, and then back to the plaza recently, has for more than 30 years been a West Peabody institution. Its proprietor was the ultimate Peabody guy, who not only knew how to please his younger customers with everything from mullets in the ‘80s to Mohawks in the ‘90s, but also was an old-school barber when it came to conversation with adult customers. Great with the jokes, or the gossip of the day, or social commentary, Phil not only gave great haircuts, but he made it a pleasure to visit him and his sidekick Annie once a month.

This past Friday, Phil Lavoie passed away at age 65.

I was in his shop for a haircut in early April, and never had an inkling that he was even ill.

His wife Linda, and their two children have lost a terrific husband and dad, and Peabody has lost one of its most-popular and much-liked citizens.

Rest in peace, my friend, and thanks for the memories.

If you knew Phil and would like to attend his services, here are the details.

On bad plow jobs, signs of our times, and Democratic justice

19 Feb

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Cleaning out the Rolodex of the mind today while wondering when we’ll ever see the grass again …

Wanted to start by thanking two neighbors who last week helped push out my car after I slid into a snowbank at the corner of Curwen and Jordan Roads.  The reason I got stuck? Well, despite six inches of snow on the ground, the city’s DPW still hadn’t deployed any plows.

Of course, just as they pushed me out, a plow did come by and almost run over the female neighbor who was helping me.  Fortunately, she got out of the way just in time. But when we looked up to curse at the driver, we noticed he was texting on his phone and couldn’t see us flipping him the bird.

If you haven’t noticed, city snow removal hasn’t exactly been stellar this winter. Many of the city’s side streets are in deplorable condition, and there are dug up lawns everywhere. Might be time for the city to evaluate some of these private contractor plowing clowns, and not offer them anymore work.

Sign us up for the moratorium!

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Mayor Ted Bettencourt

I have to laugh when I hear city councilors, and even Mayor Ted Bettencourt now talking about putting a “moratorium” on special permits for new billboards. I mean, these are the same guys who got us into this problem with billboards in the first place, right? Most recently, the mayor sent a letter to the council saying enough was enough and that we should now stop approving these special permits. Of course, he sent this letter after begging the council for two more billboards on city land that netted us a cool $50K in permitting fees.

By the way, if the mayor and the city council wants a “moratorium” on billboards, they’ll likely need to go back and change the zoning again. And, just for the record, the reason we’re being overrun with these roadside eyesores is because the city council and the mayor worked together to change the zoning in the first place to allow unlimited billboards on Route 1 and elsewhere. Don’t blame the billboard companies for this getting out of control. As Bill Shakespeare once wrote, “The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Bring on the clowns … there have to be clowns

We hear that Stonewood Tavern owner Sal Palumbo will go before the city council on Monday night to not only renew, but to expand his entertainment license. Now he wants comedians and clowns for kids birthday parties to go along with the 8-piece R&B and classic rock bands. It seems that these days Stonewood wants every form of entertainment. Well, short of strippers and … 3-piece jazz bands, we guess.

Sweet caucus justice by a legendary Peabody Democrat 

Mr. Democrat, Dick Jarvis

Mr. Democrat, Dick Jarvis

Hats off to my “You Make The Call” partner Dick Jarvis for holding some scoundrels accountable at last week’s Democratic city caucuses. City Dems met to elect delegates to June’s Democratic State Convention, and Jarvis managed some justice when it came to those Democrats who refused to support the ONLY Democrat on the ballot last spring in a special election to replace the late, great State Rep Joyce Spilliotis.

When the name of someone who openly supported unenrolled candidate Dave Gravel in the special election over Democrat Beverley Dunne was put into nomination as a delegate from Ward 3 last week, Jarvis opposed the nomination, and his claim was backed up by  “Rule 20″ in the state Democratic Party charter. Essentially Rule 20 states that you can’t be a delegate if you openly work against the party’s nominee in a previous election. her name was taken out of nomination.

File this one under sweet revenge. It was very interesting too that once Jarvis blocked this particular delegate wannabe, no one dare put Councilor At-Large Tom Gould’s name into nomination. Gould, as you’ll recall, also supported Gravel.

Dick and I will be discussing these and other issues on tonight’s live “You Make the Call Show,” 8-9 p.m., on PAT Channel 99. Please join in and give us a call.

Grateful for family, friends, and supporters met along the way

7 Nov

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

SUNRISEIt’s tough losing an election. The months of hard work puts major stress on not only the candidate, but his family and friends too. When things don’t work out on election night, there is shock, followed by disappointment, and then some frustration.

But if you did it right, and still lost, if you truly ran a campaign where you put the focus on helping people and sticking up for neighbors and neighborhoods, election night’s disappointment fades as quickly as that next day’s sunset.

Today, I have reached that point. The sun came up this morning, just as it always does, and with it came satisfaction for this former candidate. Despite battling money and power, we lost the election for Ward 5 Councilor by just 89 votes. Despite having what seemed like the entire Ward 5 political and business establishment against me because I promised to always be on the side of taxpaying residents, our underdog campaign almost pushed it across the goal line in sudden death overtime.

We fell short, but we’re not disappointed anymore. Why? Because we had the right message and we put a scare into those whom are more interested in making a buck than they are with protecting the quality of life of residents. We scared them so much that they filled my opponent’s campaign war chest with thousands of dollars, and helped with a massive get out the vote effort on election night.  Their GOTV effort was just better than our GOTV effort, and they made sure since they wanted no part of this independent-minded Ward 5 Councilor candidate.

But I know as well as anyone that this will always be the nature of politics, and at the end of the day, people get to choose who they want based on what they hear and who they like. That’s America at its finest, and I believe in the system. We lost. That’s just the way it is.

Mr. Saslaw and his team were just able to convince a few more people than we could. He now says he’s with the residents, and I wish him well in his pursuit. I expect, though, that it’s going to be hard to say no to developers who just covered you in cash, and carried you across the finish line.

As for me, I’m just not sure where the political winds will blow me. It’s too soon to do anything other than thank those family members and friends whom I love, and tell them how much I appreciate everything they did for me. There are too many names to name here, so I anticipate writer’s cramp from so many thank you notes in the coming weeks.

I’ll also never forget the people who supported me because they liked my message when I came to their doors during the long campaign. Today, just as I was starting to feel down again, an elderly woman from my neighborhood — who I didn’t even know before meeting her on Election Day — called to tell me it was a “pleasure voting for you.” And then, she told me a story that inspired me to start thinking about my next step.

It was a story about her son, who was diagnosed with dyslexia back in the 1950s, only at first they didn’t know what it was, and because of it he began failing in school. Persistence and a mother’s love and determination forced this son to not give up.

He somehow made it through the Peabody Schools, and kept working hard enough to make it into college. Despite several setbacks along the way, the son — pushed by his wonderful mom — not only graduated from college, but went on to grad school and then got his PhD in education. He just recently retired from his job as Superintendent of Schools for a South Shore community.

His mom, meanwhile, despite being 87-years-old, legally blind and needing a walker, made it to the polls at the Kiley School on Tuesday after our campaign was able to give her a ride.  When I thanked her for going above and beyond to support me like that, all she said to me was:

“You’re a good guy. You deserved it. I didn’t give up on my son, and I wasn’t going to give up on you.”

You know, maybe I did go down to defeat because I said I would always take the side of residents like this great lady who is my neighbor. But … I think I can live with that, and even start sleeping through the night again.

Here’s to another beautiful sunrise.

Re-development in Peabody should always be connected to responsibility

25 Sep

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

It was a good meeting last night at the West Branch Library. A night during which residents were presented research by a consultant on how we can revitalize Peabody’s downtown, and then asked their opinions on what should go in currently developable properties.

But there was also a moment near the end the meeting that summed up a major challenge we face as we go through the process of not only revitalizing parts of our community, but also reinvigorating our economic engine.

When the presentation was over, and all of the brainstorming done, Community Development Office official Blair Haney made a comment that spoke to something that’s unseen by many, but gotten us into past messes when it comes to development. Essentially, what Mr. Haney told the audience was that — in order to move forward — we need the full cooperation of the Peabody City Council and the residents when it comes to granting developers special permits.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I don’t think Mr. Haney was talking about granting special permits to build everything and anything developers want. After all, haven’t we recently seen the ugly side of blind cooperation when it comes to many developers in Peabody?

But it should cause us to pause, think, and ensure that we don’t get fooled again. This is indeed a cautionary tale.

Wasn’t it unchallenged “cooperation” that got us that ugly condo complex on Walnut Street, and isn’t it unchallenged “cooperation” that is causing the residents of the Winona Street neighborhood near Route 1 major headaches? I could go on and on about developers maximizing profits by building cheap, ugly projects,  grossly violating the terms special permits, and not caring about residents’ property rights.

But let’s spare you of  those gory details, and say that I don’t think there are many residents who don’t agree that we need an economic rebirth in Peabody. After all, we have a lot to pay for these days, and bringing more responsible development to the city will help us pay for capital improvements. At the same time, it would stabilize the residential tax rate. More businesses mean a lot more commercial tax revenue, which in turn means that residents aren’t taxed to death. As a result, we’d find a sane way to pay for a much-need new middle school, and flood mitigation, and all of the other improvements necessary for our civic infrastructure.

Economic development would be a great thing for Peabody, but until we get smart about it and get the right kind of development, a request for our full cooperation with developers sends chills up the spines of residents, who have had their quality of life trampled on far too often.

As a city councilor, I would most-definitely be pro-business and pro-economic development. But the rights of residents still need to come first, and those developers with a track record of violating their special permits can’t be given more chances to mess this all up again. It can no longer be a case of everything goes in Peabody, not in our downtown, and not out on Route 1.

What we need is responsible and well-planned out community re-development, and for Peabody to partner only with reputable developers to get this all done. If it’s  not the right thing to do for a neighborhood, city councilors should never fear  saying “no.”

That’s what those residents who attended that excellent meeting last night want, and that’s what they and our city deserves.

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.

Lesson learned for all Peabody Democrats? For the sake of the party, we hope so

3 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Peabody Democrats from Lynnfield to Lake Street came to realize earlier today that the sun did indeed come up on this frosty cold, un-spring-like morning.

But while sticking with this celestial theme, what we should have been thinking about was this lesson from Bill Shakespeare:

 “The fault, dear Democrats, is not in our stars … but in ourselves.”

Leah Cole, Peabody's State Rep

Leah Cole, Peabody’s State Rep

Before I go any further, I want to congratulate Peabody’s new State Rep, Republican Leah Cole, and urge all of my Democratic colleagues to do themselves a favor today and STOP with the excuses. Cole won fairly, and if you look at the campaign she ran, you immediately come to the conclusion that both Beverley Griffin Dunne and David Gravel likely never saw this coming.

The Dunne and Gravel campaign teams were solid, and worked their tails off throughout the weeks leading up to this special election. But all of us underestimated and mis-calculated when it came to Ms. Cole.

All we saw, and I’m as guilty as anyone else, was a 24-year-old, first-time candidate with zero name recognition on Day 1, and all we thought was … “this is a kid with no chance.”

What didn’t we see?

Well, we didn’t see that she was backed by an aggressive, very experienced, and battle-tested statewide professional political organization.  Ron Paul’s Liberty Movement showed once again that it can not only organize, but also infuse a candidate with the Mother’s Milk of Politics: Lots and lots of cash. They were also able to keep her focused on the populist message that government takes too much from us, wastes our money, and is now asking for even more from Peabody’s working classes.

Although I’m sure the mainstream Mass. GOP is crowing this morning about winning a seat which the Dems have held for decades, they don’t deserve the credit and still have no credible, grassroots process for building a “farm team.” This victory belongs to the sons and daughters of the Liberty Movement, who are sort of like the Tea Party, only with younger members and fewer far right zealots.

Oh sure, there is a lot of evidence that leads to the conclusion that had Mr. Gravel not been in the race as an unenrolled candidate, Ms. Dunne would have won this seat back for the Democrats. But he was in, and as Democrats shouldn’t we have all known that it would split our vote? Shouldn’t we have seen more unity and support among Dems behind our only Democratic candidate in this race, especially from some of those who call themselves Peabody Democratic Party leaders?

For weeks, all I heard was speculation on who Cole would hurt more yesterday, Dunne or Gravel. Did anyone really ever stop to consider how much Dunne and Gravel would hurt each other?

 But once again, the fault, dear Democrats, is not in Dave Gravel … it’s in ourselves.

Seventy-three votes was the difference. As a party couldn’t we have united enough to find 74 more votes?

Maybe. But this should also be a moment of clarity for us. If you can learn from it, sometimes losing isn’t a bad thing.

It’s time for us to realize that we need to get back to the principles that made fiscally conservative working class people in a city like Peabody embrace Democrats like our late, great State Rep Joyce Spilliotis?

Why have Peabody people suddenly begun turning on us Democrats, and voting for the Scott Browns, Charlie Bakers, and Leah Coles?

Our party has swung too far to the fringe, and people who work for a living are tired of losing more of their paychecks to support tax increases that feed a wasteful, bloated state government. By the way, I’m not talking about Beverley Griffin Dunne or Dave Gravel here. I’m talking about Democrats such as the State Rep from western Mass., who yesterday told me she felt that Governor Deval Patrick’s bloated budget proposal and tax increase don’t go far enough.

Both Dunne and Gravel stated during the campaign that they opposed the Governor’s tax increase. But it didn’t matter, the big-spending stench surrounded them just enough to have people pass on connecting the line next to their name. Guilt simply by association, perhaps.

As Peabody Democrats, it’s time that we adopted a message that we are the party that helps people who need help, but part of that responsibility includes ensuring that struggling working class people aren’t smothered by onerous tax increases designed to fund wasteful spending.

Isn’t it possible as a Democrat to be socially moderate or progressive while at the same time be fiscally  conservative? Most people, after all, want to be helped, but not hurt by government.

Aren’t those the type of principles under which Joyce Spilliotis operated?

And isn’t that what the voters of Peabody told us loud and clear yesterday?

Message sent, for sure.  But what still remains is,  as Democrats, what are we going to do about it?

Trees and sidewalks, can they peacefully coexist in Peabody?

20 Feb

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Click image to watch short film, "Bye, Bye Linden."

Click on the image to watch  “Bye, Bye Linden.”

Sometimes you see things that make you think in an entirely different way.  I often write about Peabody quality of life issues in this space, but after seeing a short video by a local filmmaker named Perry Hallinan, it has me thinking a little differently about those issues.

We all want level sidewalks and safe streets.  But doesn’t killing a beautiful shade tree, that has graced a neighborhood for almost half a century, also have a negative impact on quality of life?

Watch this short film, entitled “Bye, Bye Linden”  and then decide.  By the way, it’s also entered in the Marblehead Winter Film Festival.  It’s the story about a 40-year-old Linden tree that was cut down on Orchard Street because the roots were coming up through the ground, destroying the sidewalk, and creating an unsafe situation for pedestrians. The question to consider here is:  Could something have been done to save the tree and preserve the sidewalk? After all, trees uprooting sidewalks is an issue all of the city.

Take a look,  and let me know what you think.

To get more details, please read this letter to the editor that Hallinan wrote on the Peabody Patch. 

Official storm prep information from Peabody Mayor’s office

8 Feb

Hi everyone. Please get to a safe place and ride this out today.  I’m publishing the following information from the Mayor’s office. 

Stay safe,

Bob Croce

FROM THE OFFICE OF THE MAYOR

In anticipation of the expected weather event, Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt, Jr. would like to request the cooperation of residents to help support the City’s response efforts.

Schools:  Peabody Public Schools are closed on Friday, February 8, 2013.

Parking restrictions: The City of Peabody will implement its emergency parking ban effective Friday, February 8th at 8 a.m. After 8 a.m.,  and for the duration of the weather emergency, cars may not be parked on public roadways.  Any cars parked on a public roadway are subject to towing.

Mayor Bettencourt reminds both residents and the business community that the purpose of the parking ban is to allow city departments to efficiently and effectively clear the roadways to their proper widths and conditions, which is critical for the safe passage of public safety vehicles and other traffic.  The blue lights on utility poles throughout the City signal that a message has been released to the public instructing them to tune into radio 1640 AM for more details on the parking ban.

Snow removal: Mayor Bettencourt would also like to remind residents that certain sidewalks, by city ordinance, need to be cleared. We would ask that residents and businesses assist the cleanup effort by clearing their sidewalks if they are able and it is safe to do so. Please do not place snow from sidewalks into the roadway.

Communication: In addition to the blue light/AM 1640 announcements, residents are advised that all updates and additional notifications will also be made on radio stations WBZ 1030 AM and North Shore 104.9 FM.  Notifications will also be made through Nixle Alerts (www.nixle.com), City of Peabody websitewww.peabody-ma.gov, Peabody Police Department Facebook and Twitter accounts, Peabody Public Schools ConnectED system, and the Peabody Access Television channel 9 WebCrawler. The City has also set up an emergency weather telephone line at (978) 538-5758, which will provide recorded information and will be updated throughout the weekend.

Emergency shelter: The City of Peabody is prepared to open a “warming station” at the Council on Aging facility (79 Central Street) for any residents in temporary need of heat or electricity. Residents should call the business line of the Peabody Police Department at (978) 538-6385 first, so that arrangements can be made to have the warming station opened. The Council on Aging will not operate as an overnight shelter. For any residents in need of an overnight shelter, arrangements will be made at the regional American Red Cross shelter.

Power outages: Residents needing to report a power outage or downed power line should contact the Peabody Municipal Light Plant at (978) 531-5975. Please remember that downed power lines may be live, so stay away from them.  ­­

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