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In support of Salem and its mayor

To the editor:

I was delighted to read in the local newspapers that Salem’s ytd 2021 tax receipts are markedly better than anticipated despite the difficulties which most of the nation’s communities are experiencing with the lingering effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. Let’s hope that the coming year will be even better for us.

Given this robust financial outlook for the City of Salem, I want to congratulate Mayor John Berlin for having the foresight and for taking the lead in investing city dollars into the future of our downtown with the city’s recent purchase of what has long been known as “the village green” at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and East State Street where the Salem Chamber of Commerce was housed for so many years. I also want to congratulate the City Council for unanimously backing the mayor in this very important downtown investment.

Some have suggested this is “prime space” for new private investment. Well nobody has been in any rush to buy the space as it has sat empty for the past year or more. The last thing we need in our downtown, frankly, is another absentee-owned gas station or fast food joint or strip plaza that is half empty like the one just across the street, on the northeast corner of this intersection.

The mayor’s idea of developing this into a new downtown green space, perhaps with a signature gazebo large enough to accommodate summer concerts, sounds wonderful. Perhaps we could bring back the Victorian fountain that once sat in front of the Chamber building and which more than 100 years ago sat on the front lawn of the Silver Mansion at the corner of South Lincoln and Franklin Avenues. High quality park benches could be placed along brick walkways and more.

Look at the many nice historic communities that have a downtown green space and then imagine what an improvement this could be for downtown Salem. If we really want to bring traffic back to the downtown and support our local downtown merchants, what better way could we do this than by making an investment such as this one. There very well may be State of Ohio capital budget grant dollars available for this very sort of community investment.

David W. Johnson,

Salem

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