Monday, November 16, 2009

Votes in Peabdy and Danvers School Projects, Rep. Grant to Step Down, Essex Heritage Grant Pogram

MONDAY. November 16, 2009

Peabody School Committee Votes to Join Vocational School District

Late last week the City of Peabody School Committee cast a positive vote to join the new regional Vocational school coalition. The next step for the City of Peabody will come late this week when the measure comes before the City Council for passage. It is that group that will have the final vote on this measure. Essex Heritage was an early supporter of the new school, and the vote in Peabody will be an important one as that City weighs the benefits to the citizens of Peabody. The regional coalition that has been formed to bring the necessary State funding to this region to accomplish the building of a new expanded North Shore Vocational Technical High School has worked hard to get to this point, and a positive vote by the Peabody City Council would be a big step towards a final resolution of this initiative. Essex Heritage quickly recognized how a new school would benefit the region and issued its early support for the project. The hundreds of additional future students from this region who would gain the opportunity to learn a valuable trade will certainly, in both the short term and well into the future, provide a wonderful benefit to the entire region. We certainly hope that the vote later this week brings the City of Peabody into the coalition as the new school can continue to expand the economy of the region, and that will be most positive.

Town Meeting in Danvers to Consider Funding for a Renovated High School

Another important vote that will have a bearing on education in the region will come before the Danvers Town Meeting body tonight. After a long period of debate and positive endorsements by the Danvers Board of Selectmen and the Town’s Finance Committee the vote to appropriate substantial Town funding to both renovate and build new sections of the High School will be brought before the Town Meeting body. The plan as conceived by a broad coalition within the Town of Danvers is a good one, and the funding commitment obtained from the Commonwealth is fair, and the plan should be approved. We urge members of Town Meeting to act accordingly, and approve the municipal funding required to begin this program. A most reasonable funding plan has been created and it certainly appears that the Town can afford the costs associated with the project, and the vote tonight should be to proceed.

Representative Mary Grant of Beverly to Step Down

Essex Heritage was sorry to learn late last week that Representative Mary Grant of Beverly has decided not to stand for reelection as the State Representative for the City of Beverly. Representative Grant has been a positive voice in the Massachusetts Legislature and she will be missed in the future. Ms. Grant has always been a wonderful supporter of the work of Essex Heritage and was one of the first Representatives in this region to support the regional Essex Heritage Scenic Byway now in the planning stage. We wish retiring representative Grant all the best as she takes on new challenges in the private sector going forward, and can only hope that her successor has the vision she has exhibited for regional projects.

Commonwealth to Invest in Cultural Facilities in Lynn

A recent announcement by the Massachusetts Cultural Council contained good news for nine communities across the State. Awards that will total $177,375 from the Commonwealth’s Cultural Facilities Fund will support Massachusetts non-profit cultural organizations in increasing tourism, creating new jobs, leveraging private funding, and expanding arts and cultural activities in communities across the state. In making these awards the Massachusetts Cultural Council evaluated eighteen requests that totaled almost a half a million dollars and picked nine for funding. An organization representing the Lynn Memorial Auditorium was the only group from this region to receive funding and that award was the second highest granted at $26,250. In recent years there has a resurgence of cultural opportunities offered in Lynn at its auditorium and this funding will allow a continuation of new offerings to the citizens of Lynn.

City of Salem to Offer Residents the Opportunity to Participate in Parking Study

Tonight from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the old Town Hall, the City of Salem will be offering residents the opportunity to identify parking issues in a Downtown Parking Survey and to offer potential solutions. This will be the first of several workshops to be held between now and March 2010. Residents can also offer their thoughts on the cities web site at

Essex Heritage to Restore Partnership Grant Program in 2010

Plans are now being formulated to restore critical funding for the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant Program. This program that was curtailed in 2009 has been responsible for a substantial amount of community grant funding since its inception a half a dozen years ago. The program has made almost 300 grants to not-for-profit organizations and municipalities that total $1.5 million and has seen that investment in the region matched by an additional $15 million in other matching regional investments. The program in 2010 will offer $25,000 in grants and Essex Heritage is currently designing a streamlined application process that will not cause substantial administrative paperwork for either the applying organization or for Essex Heritage. Final plans on the restored program will be available soon, and announcements will be made through this medium, the Essex Heritage electronic newsletter, the web site at and other usual communication vehicles

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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