Input on downtown effort sought

SALEM – A building owner who started an effort to revitalize the downtown is urging anyone with questions, concerns or comments regarding the Salem Technical Advisory Committee to attend a meeting at 6 p.m. today at the Salem Golf Club.

“We’re real interested in public comment,” Salem resident Scott Cahill said.

The committee formed in October, with four sub-committees created to work on different aspects of what’s needed to get the downtown “fully occupied and vibrant.” The sub-committees include: Fiscal, Standards, Proportion and Structure Evaluation.

Plans call for the findings of the four sub-committees to be presented during the meeting and for the TAC to receive comment regarding the findings or the downtown revitalization effort. The meeting will also look to the future, including the work of the Implementation Committee which will put everything into one “actionable” plan to present to Salem City Council, possibly on Feb. 19.

Cahill said this meeting tonight will also be the last meeting where people can sign up to join a sub-committee to help with the work. He said about 50 people are involved. but he would like to see more people come and give their opinions or ideas now rather than later after the TAC process is finished. He said he would much rather have them ask questions now and share their ideas.

Another meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Salem Golf Club to give people another opportunity to give their input. He said all issues raised will be researched and responded to in writing to the person who raised the issue.

Cahill said a lot of changes have taken place to the initial proposal he introduced before the TAC started meeting.

“A lot has been done to alleviate the various concerns that have come up,” he said, adding the plans are “more palatable for building owners” than they were before.

Instead of having private investors put up the money for renovations, they may consider securing bonds through the city for a non-profit entity acting as developer. He said they’re also looking at minimizing the requirements for meeting minimum building standards. He explained that all they care is that the buildings are brought up to a standard so they can be fully occupied and safe.

“I want to see downtown full of people,” Cahill said.

According to a brief overview provided by Cahill of the committee work :

“The Standards Sub-Committee has found ways to reduce the cost of work required to bring downtown buildings up to safe standards to a fraction of the previous methods. They have done all of this while maintaining a safe environment in the proposed redeveloped downtown.”

The Fiscal Committee ” has completely changed the originally-proposed developer to be a non-profit entity. They have found fair ways to assure each downtown building owner that they will be treated equally and fairly and that none will ever profit by the loss of another. The entire development of our downtown will result in a revenue positive evolution over time.”

The Proportion Committee has “found better ways to structure the physical downtown as it is developed so that we will not lose the character of our city. They have laid out better traffic patterns and have supported needed parking and greenery without the loss of buildings that we had originally anticipated.”

The Building Evaluation Committee has “developed a fair and proper mathematical formulae to define the value of buildings in our downtown to assure us all that no significant building will be lost to the redevelopment effort.”

“I beg anyone who truly cares about the future of our downtown to please attend our meeting and to voice your support, opposition, and concerns,” Cahill noted.

All comments will be incorporated into the plan and given equal consideration and weight.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at