The first of 288 eviction notices were handed out to residents of Westgate Arms in May, inciting fears of homelessness in a historically difficult real estate market and less than a year after a federal eviction moratorium ended.
Property managers cited renovations that required buildings to be vacant.
Cries for help from the initial 24 households to be displaced were shared widely on social media and in the community, leading to a meeting organized by the nonprofit group Isaiah 58.
Tenants, their children, local and state leaders, school counselors and a prominent local builder gathered to strategize ahead of the 90-day move-out deadline.
Also present was Andrea Brown, senior vice president of operations at Gilbert G. Campbell Real Estate, the company that owns the apartment complex.
As a result of the meeting and backlash in the media, a new letter was distributed to households within a week.
The deadline for the first group of residents to leave is now Jan. 15, 2023, allowing four additional months to finalize arrangements.
Lease options, no fee to re-apply and priority status were also offered.
Horrific DUI crash resolved
Dr. Scott Dowd was sentenced in June to 3 ½ years in prison for a 2021 car crash that critically injured a 5-year-old girl inside her home.
Police Chief Joel Dolan says the tragedy was unlike anything he has seen in his 28-year policing career.
Prosecutors presented evidence that showed Dowd’s blood-alcohol level was .34, quadruple the legal limit and a level at which medical experts say vital bodily functions begin to shut down.
Dowd pleaded guilty to aggravated driving while intoxicated and three counts of reckless conduct in exchange for a lighter sentence. A first-degree assault charge was dropped.
After prison he faces 120 hours of community service — 80 in a medical setting and 40 in an educational setting.
Dowd was driving up to 75 mph in a residential neighborhood when he lost control and slammed into a granite mailbox post. The post flew through the air, slamming into the Tutrone residence and hitting 5-year-old Giuliana. It broke her jaw, lacerated a vein in her neck and tore through muscle.
Two bystanders were praised as heroes — off-duty emergency room doctor Tim Chu, a neighbor, and Scott Demers, who was fixing a sprinkler system nearby.
Tuscan Village construction, openings
The sprawling village on Route 28 continued to take shape this year, with five new business openings and sustainable vertical construction.
Totaling 4 million square feet, the mixed-use development has been a focal point of town planning since its proposal roughly five years ago.
In October, a Mass General Brigham regional medical facility opened, offering primary care, behavioral health services and imaging to start.
A spokesperson for the hospital said ambulatory surgery — to happen in four operating rooms on the top floor— won’t happen until after the new year, but all other services are available.
Construction of the 62,000-square-foot structure, spanning three floors, began in September 2020. At full capacity it will accommodate up to 250 employees.
LensCrafters, TMobil, Crumbl Cookies, Emerald Jewelers and the Sam Adams Beer Garden are the newest retailers and eateries at Tuscan Village. More openings are slated for 2023, beginning with The Container Store.
Builders broke ground this year on over 250 apartment units, a 500-car parking garage, a 1.2 million-square-foot building to be used for office and retail space, and four smaller free-standing buildings for the same use.
Looking ahead to 2023, the centerpiece of the grounds is expected to open — a 164-key Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel.
Emergency calls up, facilities shot down
The Salem Fire Department is on pace for the busiest year of emergency incident call response volume in its 117-year history. Chief Larry Best said by the new year, the tally is expected to hit nearly 6,000.
From Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, the Fire Department was responding to two or more incidents 70% of the time, according to the chief.
The most incidents responded to in previous years was 5,605 in 2018. That year, two winter storms generated nearly 230 incidents alone.
Best and police Chief Joel Dolan partnered to promote the purchase of 50 acres to build new facilities for first responders on the west side of town, where there are 1,800 properties used as residential, commercial and industrial space. But the proposal was rejected at the polls in March.
The $4.8 million land acquisition bond needed 60% support, but missed that mark by 4%.
According to Best, 19% of calls this year were to the west side, totaling 1,008. First responders were able to arrive on-scene in 4 minutes or less — which is the national standard — for 31% of calls.
Tuscan Village has accounted for 4% of total calls, a total of 198 to date, up from 2% last year.
Police calls for service, to date, totaled 31,103, with 37% requiring some type of report or case number assigned.
This year saw 1,134 arrests and 993 accident responses.