North Street Check In

Last weekend, at the Great Salem Clean Up, I had the pleasure of meeting three women in the neighborhood who came prepared to help make our neighborhood more beautiful. 

Clean Up Crew!

Woman 1: “I just have to tell you, Megan. I LOVE the changes on North Street. I feel SO much safer. THANK YOU!” 

Woman 2: “It’s fine, I guess… But how will plows get through and trash be picked up? I had to make a left the other day from North St, and so many cars were stuck behind me – I felt so bad they couldn’t pass!” 

Woman 3: “I haven’t thought about it that much!🤷” 

There were many other neighbors and residents of Salem there that morning (such rockstars!) and of course I heard more feedback, overall positive with some specific critiques, throughout the morning. 

But really, these three lovely ladies encapsulated the full range of emotions people are feeling over the recent changes to North Street. 

So, friends & neighbors, I just wanted to provide a quick check in, let you know that the city hears the comments and feedback, that we know there are items that need work (IMO, especially the trash pick up & the old middle lines) and there are items that are still not complete (new crosswalks, green paint, and replacing some of the damaged posts for example).

We are also collecting data – a recently cited data point notes that before the changes, North St saw an average of 4 accidents a month, and after an average of  0.75 accidents a month. 

Of course, now every single accident is reviewed with a magnifying glass. Was it caused by the new street design, or not? Is the new street configuration resulting in less, or more, distracted driving because drivers are *uncomfortable* on the street? I am looking forward to that deep dive in conversations and data review.  

Besides data, a key part to these projects is listening to as many voices as possible. There are going to be voices that agree, voices that disagree, and those that are indifferent (just like my new three friends!) But it is important to listen to them all and make yourself accessible to all. You may not (actually, you definitely will not) be able to make everyone happy, but everyone should be heard.

During this Special Mayoral election season, North Street has become one of the candidates main talking points in their campaign. Candidate Neil Harrington is stating North St is a “debacle”, with poor planning done & little resident input taken in, and that speeding on North St was never really an issue. There are also claims of data manipulation and not listening to public safety leaders.

Well, I take all of these accusations quite personally. As someone that has made themselves accessible, has spoken to so many in the neighborhood, to our public safety leaders, someone who has read hundreds of emails, comments, listened to voicemails and had countless meetings on how to turn that feedback into actionable solutions, only to hear that none of that ever happened is really not just a slap to me, but a disservice to those that have provided feedback and participated in the process. 

As I have stated many, many times before; North Street is not perfect! But there are things that are working, with many in the neighborhood in support of, and we cannot move backwards. Harrington might believe that a goal to reduce pedestrian accidents and deaths to zero is an impossible and unrealistic vision, but I strongly disagree with that way of thinking. 

I am also here to remind us all that there are other things going on in the city besides new bike lanes. Why are we not demanding the answers to the hard questions? North Street is such a low hanging fruit.

There is not a “leadership vacuum” in Salem as also stated by candidate Harrington. As the President of the City Council, I am concerned with this statement. I feel that instead perhaps we have an idea vacuum when it comes to topics that Harrington believes are important in this mayoral election cycle. Simply, residents deserve more than a muck filled low hit. And I am not going to stand silent as the hard work and efforts of the city and myself are smeared.

Going back to the neighborhood clean up – you know who was there? Our Ward 6 neighbor and other mayoral candidate – Dominick Pangallo. One who knows these topics are tricky, one who will listen to everyone, and one who will do the work, and one who wants Salem to continue to move forward. 

It’s springtime, and my allergy medicine is finally working! I am looking forward to more neighborhood clean-up and meet-ups where I get to meet new neighbors, reconnect with old, and enjoy this lovely city we call home.

FOOTNOTE: Since this post is ultimately about North Street, I am going to add some always helpful links: North St FAQ (How will they plow? Etc): & The North St Project Page: And, no – The changes on North Street were not implemented to improve traffic. That is a much (much lol) different conversation. As a residential street with pockets of local businesses and nearby schools, North Street must support a wide range of activity. This project focuses on investments that improve safety and access for the wide range of users who live, work, visit, and travel on North Street.

This is always a tricky conversation to have here on social media, which is nearly impossible to collect data from, and I often request for any specific feedback to be sent to my email: to ensure those that are not on social media see it. And while I do occasionally drop in on a conversation here, I am the first to admit I do not see it all (reading comments on this topic would be a full-time job!)