City officials were absolutely right to have defended their positions and allow a car auction to occupy an empty lot fronting the Lynnway’s eastern side.
The city’s able development chief Jimmy Cowdell, said he was opposed to such a use and remains opposed to such a use for the empty lot. He believes it will not make any easier the city’s plans to develop the waterfront.
I never disagree with Jimmy about anything because he’s a smart guy but in this instance, there is virtually nothing but an auto auction that might reasonably be interested in occupying that empty space.
In fact, an auto auction on that lot does little to change the grand scope of the Lynnway’s outrageously difficult persona – a persona that won’t be changed until and unless nearly every automobile operation ceases to exist there (at which point the city might reasonably loses its reason to exist).
The Lynnway as it is today, as it might be forever, is a mish mush of automobile and lower echeleon business interests ranging from scrap metal, to junked car parts, to a Walmart and the flea market with its hideous red electronic signs blaring pathetic and cheap looking messages to passing traffic heading for the North Shore.
I’d venture that those hideous, red electronic signs do more to damage the image of the city than any number of automobile dealerships could if they tried.
The Lynnway’s only hope as this city’s gateway is more tree plantings on either side of the roadway, more attention paid to the center strip and its plantings (they need to be thick and robust and for some kind of miracle to be worked with the lighting – perhaps the lighting along Revere Beach could be replicated on the Lynnway. Only then would the Lynnway have the look and feel of a nice roadway instead of a automobile mile with other assorted lesser businesses.
There is no real hope of changing the Lynnway from what it is which is why a debate over a car auction locating there was a bit pathetic.
We can want the Lynnway to change just as we can want the downtown to be a busy bustling place but it isn’t going to happen just because we want it that way.
The waterfront behind the Lynnway has a chance – a slim one at that. But at least it has a chance.
Who in their right mind will want to live behind the Lynnway’s prodigious auto presence? And who would pay big money for a condo in Lynn on its waterfront when the Lynnway looks like it does?
Very few people, really. This is why nothing whatsoever has happened very fast with the Lynn waterfront in about one century.
People in leadership positions here need to get their heads on straight about what is going to work and what isn’t. What makes sense and what doesn’t. What will fit and what exactly does not fit.
The Lynn dream is to think that one lot can change the world. One lot only changes that lot – not the whole Lynnway.
The city must lose the hit or miss mentality it has. The city needs a plan. It needs a plan and developer. It needs all of this and much much more – or absolutely nothing is going to happen.
The plan must be rooted in a harsh reality – that Lynn hasn’t and doesn’t know how to develop virtually anything that has the power to change a neighborhood or an entire length of the city.
Officials here would do well to go to Chelsea and to discuss with City Manager Jay Ash how he has managed to bring $200 million in new construction to the city in the past year or how he has managed to change entire streets and neighborhoods with successful projects.
That would be more productive for official here than a meaningless debate about a car auction moving onto an empty lot on the Lynnway.