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May 16, 2013

Residents pressure officials to demolish Sidewalk Cafe

Six months after state purchase, building still stands

SALISBURY BEACH — Six months after the state agency that owns Salisbury Beach bought the dilapidated remains of the former Sidewalk Cafe, beach residents are hoping its promise to tear down the eyesore will soon be met.

Last November, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation purchased the long- vacant and unsightly beachfront property at 24 Ocean Front South for $475,000 from its former owner Mark Finneral, of Finneral Company, LLC/General Partner of Merit Properties Limited Partnership, of Tewksbury.

At the time, DCR spokeswoman SJ Port said the agency’s intentions were to take the building down and return the lot to open space that’s part of Salisbury Beach State Reservation as a whole.

Although the best-laid plans can go awry, she said at the time, if all went as DCR hoped, demolition would hopefully occur around now — in late spring or early summer.

According to Adam Martignetti, chief of staff for state Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport, DCR has gone through the bid process and has already awarded the contract for the work. Martignetti said yesterday the timeline to begin work is in DCR’s hands, but he added demolition shouldn’t take long to complete once started.

Port said yesterday that DCR’s plan is still to tear down the building, although a firm date isn’t set.

“We estimate that demolition, once begun, would be a maximum of five days,” Port said. “And we’d schedule the work so that it would have only a minimal impact to visitors to the beach.”

Money to execute the demolition doesn’t appear to be a problem. Port said that funding would come from the same line item in DCR’s budget that was used when the agency purchased the property.

However, funding to restore the lot after demolition has not yet been identified, she said, for it will depend upon in which fiscal year that work is done. This fiscal year ends on June 30, 2013, and the next begins on July 1.

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