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May 16, 2013

Residents pressure officials to demolish Sidewalk Cafe

Six months after state purchase, building still stands


Over the years, the property has featured an oceanside public swimming pool, kids’ rides, a sub shop, the deck top cocktail lounge and former home of the Sidewalk Cafe. Its beachside location had made it a part of Salisbury Beach’s entertainment scene since the mid-1950s. But, closed for years, all that remains now on the roughly 1-acre lot is a badly deteriorated, boarded-up building that many consider a blight on the beach.

The value of the property when purchased indicates its poor state. Acquired for less than half a million dollars, Salisbury’s assessed value of the property was $1,675,700 for the .93-acre site, yet only $66,500 was attributed to the worth of the building; most of its value related to its seaside location.

Although police do a good job of trying to keep people away from the structure, Atlantic Avenue resident Bob White told the Board of Selectmen recently he considers it a safety hazard. It’s a place where youth gather on its flat roof for late night drinking parties, said White, who brought along a photo of such a scene.

White and other beach property owners have contacted the town’s state legislators, requesting they ask DCR to move ahead with the demolition. The simple sight of it negatively affects beach visitors’ impression of the beach, White said.

White asked selectmen and others to call and write to legislators and DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert to keep the pressure on until the project’s done.

Selectman Fred Knowles said once the building is gone, he hopes the site would once again be considered as part of a plan to build a boardwalk along the top of Broadway, beginning at the Beach Center and continuing down Ocean Front South.

Knowles said Salisbury still holds $100,000 in state grant funds for the boardwalk initiative, which was scrapped when the Thompson Design Group entered Salisbury Beach’s development picture six years ago. In 2007, the Cambridge-based urban design firm announced it was working on a uniform plan to restore the beach center to its former greatness, but after all this time, nothing has been done.

“If we wait for the Thompson Group (to act), our grandchildren will still be waiting for the Thompson Group,” Knowles said.

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