Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CPA Gains Legislative Support, Danvers and Swampscott Approve Projects, Beverly Mayor Supports School, and Willowdale Visit


Community Preservation Act Bill Gains Legislative Support

Communities in this region that have adopted the Community Preservation Act have been the beneficiary of matching funds from the Commonwealth that have allowed many worthwhile projects to be completed. The preservation of many important buildings of historical significance along with the acquisition and protection of many critical parcels of land in the region has been achieved with this funding. In addition several communities in the region have also addressed affordable housing needs that today seem even more important than in the recent past. Essex Heritage has always supported the efforts to increase the number of communities in the region who have enacted the Community preservation Act as the funding can be put to such positive uses, virtually all of which focus on the mission of Essex Heritage. At this time about half of the communities in the region served by Essex Heritage have access to state funding through the adoption of this act and we have always encouraged additional communities to consider the benefits of enacting the legislation. We certainly understand the difficulty that communities face when considering measures that call for new taxes to be imposed on already hard pressed residents, but the benefits of passage are so positive that we continue to urge communities that have not enacted the legislation to consider the potential uses of the funding.
In a recent report in the newspapers it was pointed out that in the most current year the average state match to participating communities has fallen to 40% and that is the lowest match since the program began eight years ago, The match is down from 100% just two years ago before the current financial crisis hit the Commonwealth. Even though the match is down substantially most communities expected the reduction and are generally pleased with any level of funding as the funding can be put to so many positive uses.
We are also pleased to report that legislation supported by the Community Preservation Coalition to sustain CPA funding has recently cleared an important legislative hurdle. The bill, SB 90, an act to Sustain Community Preservation was approved with a favorable recommendation by the joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business. This bill that would broaden participation in CPA by making it easier for communities to join and would guarantee a minimum annual CPA trust fund match of 75% for each community participating in the program,. The bill still has many hurdles to overcome before becoming law, as it must gain the approval of other legislative committees and also win passage by the full Massachusetts House and Senate. We congratulate Essex Heritage Commissioner Stuart Saginor, the Executive Director of the Community Preservation Coalition for all of his hard work to date, and assure him of the continuing support of Essex Heritage as he moves forward with his activities. We also encourage any community leaders and any others in the region we serve, who want to learn more about this financially rewarding community program to contact Stuart directly at

City of Peabody to Hold Open House at Leather Workers Museum

This Thursday evening, November 17, 2009 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm the City of Peabody will be holding an Open House at its recently completed Leather Workers Museum at 205 Washington Street just to the rear of the George Peabody Visitor Center. The new Museum contains 1,000 square feet of exhibit space and a room for multi media presentations and lectures. The Open House is an opportunity for former leather industry workers and their families to reconnect with other former industry workers and to take the opportunity to revisit an industry that in Peabody employed thousands. In fact for one summer in my youth, I spent time working in that industry, and look forward to visiting the exhibits. The museum is located adjacent to the Peabody Visitor Center that has long had a working relationship and financial support from Essex Heritage. I hope that some of you will find the time to join me in a visit to the past.

Danvers and Swampscott Approve Major Municipal Projects

Last night was an important evening in two local communities. The Town’s of Danvers and Swampscott both approved major community improvement projects. In Danvers the Town Meeting body approved the High School building project, and in Swampscott that Town Meeting approved and sent to the general electorate a new police station project. Both projects are important to the communities involved and will make a major difference to the residents of those two communities. Congratulations to all in the two communities who took the time and the effort to see these important projects through to this stage.

Mayor Bill Scanlon Weighs in on New Regional Vocational Technical School

Recently re-elected, Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon, long an ardent supporter of the planned regional Vocational Technical School offered his open endorsement to the Beverly City Council relative to that City’s participation. Before the end of this year a presentation will be made to the Beverly City Council seeking their official endorsement to have Beverly join that regional initiative. We are confidant that that the Mayor’s endorsement will help carry that day, and Beverly will join the growing list of communities lining up to support this critical regional effort. Each week we see additional endorsements of this regional concept, and Essex Heritage was pleased to be one of the first regional organizations to offer its unqualified support to this initiative.

Bradley Palmer and Willowdale Hosted the Essex Heritage Explorers

Last Sunday morning just before the start of the weekend clearing settled in, forty one intrepid Essex Heritage Explorers braved the rain and the chill to tour Bradley Palmer State Park. The tour finished with a visit to Willowdale Estate where the group enjoyed refreshments and the hospitality of that organization’s staff... The Essex Heritage coordinator of all Explorer activities, Elizabeth Rankin asked me to remind all who might be interested that Willowdale Estates will be hosting its 3rd annual Christmas Concert on December 6, 2009 at 3:00 pm that afternoon. Selections that day will include excerpts from Handel’s Messiah and the singing of traditional Christmas Carols. A reception will follow the concert. Advance reservations and required and tickets are priced at $15.00 each and may be purchased at

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

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