Well, the Carnival has been over for weeks, and 289 Derby Street is once more a parking lot. But, it could be a lot more. Should it be private development or public space? Public Space, of course!
The following is from my letter to Salem Councilors in support of the Carnival Lot for public use:
I am writing again in support of acquiring the 289 Derby Street lot for public use. When I first moved to Salem, I conducted informal surveys at the 2011 Farmers Market asking why people moved to Salem, since I seemed to be meeting many newcomers like me. Almost all said they love the walkability of Salem. Although anecdotes are plentiful, hard data is harder to come by to show the great economic benefit over time of good, useful, public spaces. Downtown Salem’s footprint is slowly enlarging with new development towards the Point and 1A; 289 Derby Street lot would be one of the largest such public spaces and serve as a great public amenity in what is quickly becoming the expanded center of our city.
The acquisition of the lot for public use would be a wise long-term investment for Salem; the ultimate cost is worth it for our investment in our public realm that could be a wonderful, democratic gathering space for all people, in view of the Point on one side, and the bustling downtown on the other, next to a currently neglected but changing waterfront. As a local architect and community artist, I am committed to an expanded and inclusive public realm that is useful, innovative, and beautiful – a worthy and worthwhile amenity to our city.
In our seemingly divided and siloed nation, public spaces offering access to public amenities, beauty, festivals, performances, art, community, and a place for conversation are increasingly important. We need more spaces where we can come together with those of different ideologies but an essential shared humanity.
Will you support the acquisition of 289 Derby Street for public use? Write your Councilors!
Read Mayor Driscoll’s OpEd here
Read from some of the Council concerns on the acquisition here