City councilor and owner Tom Gould was our guest Tuesday for an hourlong live chat with Patch readers. The question-and-answer session covered a lot of ground in the city.
Here are some of the highlights from the chat:
Peabody Resident: Tom, from a City Council voting process, do you feel that there are alliances that no matter what the vote is for, certain councilors are going to lean with their group? For example, Dunkin' Donuts and the large billboard on Lowell Street. By the way, great decision as a newbie with regards to your vote.
Tom Gould: Thanks for the question. I thought going in that there were alliances, but I have found that there has been independence amongst the councilors.
Peabody Patch Live Blog: OK, we have one question that was emailed in from a reader. He asks: "If you are a successful businessman, why did you burden the Peabody taxpayers by taking the city's health insurance?"
Tom Gould: In regards to the health insurance coverage for me and my family, I know it's an issue that bothers some people. I struggled with choosing it but since it's a state law that any municipal employee is entitled to choose the health insurance, it was something I decided to do.
Concerned Taxpayer: There is nothing wrong with you taking it! DO people realize how many hours our city councilors put into this position and all they get is a stipend and an opportunity to get the city insurance. People shouldn't even ask, they should demand that you take it for your service.
David: What is your position on Westside Restaurant getting a liquor license, whether it is partial or full?
Tom Gould: I don't think that there should be a restaurant with a full liquor license in that neighborhood.
Peabody Patch Live Blog: Tom, going back to the Westside for a minute, do you think it would be OK for the restaurant to have just beer and wine or no alcohol at all?
Tom Gould: I am up in the air on a beer and wine. It is still a neighborhood.
Brenda: What are the challenges of being on the council and running a small biz?
Tom Gould: Time!!!!! I am the type of person that wants to get things done and chip away at problems both at work and on the council.
Kelly: Is there anything you hope the city can do to help small business thrive?
Tom Gould: Fix the downtown and flooding because that will show that we care about business and we are willing to tackle problems!
Peabody Patch Live Blog: Tom, briefly, how would you go about fixing the downtown?
Tom Gould: WE need to fix the flooding! If we don't attempt to solve the problem then what is the message that we are sending? Our downtown is the ugly stepsister to our neighbors Danvers and Salem. Why does their downtown work? Tell me.
Mark D.: Can you truly fix the downtown? The engineering is still in question and we could spend millions and still have issues. We built our downtown in a bad location and there is not enough green space to absorb the rainfall.
Tom Gould: I know it's a lot of investment, but I feel we have to try or we will continue to accept mediocrity!
Valerie: What is the council doing to mitigate traffic around the city?
Tom Gould: Hi Valerie, I think the traffic issue is something we need to get our hands around. Open to suggestions.
Mark D.: So you feel that your role is more of a checks and balances instead of creating a vision for Peabody?
Tom Gould: Hi Mark. I do have a vision and that is of a vibrant downtown with a full Centennial Park as well as state-of-the-art schools and a clean, safe city!
Peabody Patch Live Blog: Tom, do you feel the City Council as a whole shares a unified vision?
Tom Gould: Not sure if we have ever talked vision as a group. We have followed the mayor's lead on the vision issues.
Giles C.: It seems like parts of Peabody are being overrun by car dealers. Does this concern the council?
Tom Gould: Absolutely. But also there are good businesses like the Lyon-Waugh Auto Group, the Kelly Auto Group, Accura, BMW, MINI and many more. These are good taxpayers and good employers but we need to keep up on our regs.
Mark D.: What is your focus over the next 18 months while in office? What kind of goals have you established for yourself that will help you measure how well you are doing? Since you are a businessman, I am sure you run on a business plan and have you done something similar for yourself in this new role that you have taken on?
Tom Gould: Thanks Mark. I will continue to take each issue as it comes up and decide whether it is right for the people as well as the city. My goals for judging my progress occur every night after a council meeting when I either get the thumbs up or down from my wife Sharon.
Donna: What is the key to running a successful business for so long? There is always a line across your parking lot at night.
Tom Gould: Donna, I am very blessed to have been able to buy Treadwell's 12 years ago. We own a 66-year-old business on a numbered highway (114) on a corner lot with a curb cut on both streets. We have a wonderful attentive staff that makes everyone feel special when they come! Thanks for the encouragement.
with Councilor-at-Large Tom Gould.