SALISBURY —  Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito came to a rainy Salisbury Beach to help break ground on the new comfort station and welcome center Thursday afternoon.

The $5.2 million project is being built by Newburyport-based Castagna Construction Corp. and is expected to be finished by next summer.

Town Manager Neil Harrington welcomed Polito, state Rep. Jim Kelcourse, R-Amesbury, and state Sen. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, as well as the Board of Selectmen to the ceremony at the Salisbury Sports Pub.

Polito told the crowd of about 20 people that it was good to be talking about something other than the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is an investment in your community that goes back to the early days of our administration in 2015,” she said. “That was the year that we announced the $1 million grant for the (seaside) boardwalk which is now just a common piece of infrastructure in this community.”

Polito said the boardwalk, which was completed in the summer of 2017, is only one step in making Salisbury Beach a welcome summer spot. The $1 million the state spent on the boardwalk, coupled with the $5.2 million the town borrowed to build the welcome center, is money well spent, she added.

“I am just happy that all of this work and that vision is now becoming a reality for this particular neighborhood,” Polito said.

Harrington thanked the lieutenant governor as well as Kelcourse and DiZoglio and said that Thursday was a “tremendous day” for Salisbury.

“The beach has everything going for it, with one notable exception,” Harrington said. “Our aging and inconveniently-located restrooms have detracted from the beach experience for many years. There are many merchants and residents here today who have heard the complaints, some seemingly forever. But now we have the opportunity, the resources and the will to do something about it.”

DiZoglio spoke about the power of teamwork Thursday afternoon.

“I think, a lot of times, what has been missed recently is that focus on tourism dollars,” DiZoglio said. “We need to make sure that we are advertising how much that brings in local revenues and how much that does support local, small businesses. The welcome center is going to greatly and significantly contribute to all of that and beyond.”

Kelcourse said the welcome center will improve the quality of life on Salisbury Beach.

“We look forward to being able to utilize that facility when we build it here,” he said.

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