Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Boston Globe Reports Congressional Passage of National Park Service Funding Bill

We were very pleased to see an Opinion Page column in the November 3, 2009 edition of the Boston Globe that focused on funding for National Parks. The report offered by Derrick Z. Jackson noted that in the last week the Congress passed bipartisan legislation that calls for a broad spending measure for the county’s National Parks and other related projects. It is certainly hopeful that the Congress acted in such a bipartisan manner and that this might be the beginning of recognition that adequate funding for the National Parks, Refuges and Forests could be a proper national priority. The recent Ken Burns documentary, The National Parks, America’s Best Idea that appeared on PBS, brought new found interest in the parks and showcased the assets under the control of the National Park Service. The parks across the country will receive funding increases that are more reasonable than at any time in the recent past, but the funding levels are still too low based on the accumulated needs in areas like deferred maintenance and acquisition of key properties to enhance the park experience.

The National Parks that are such an important resource to so many residents of this country are funded currently at about $2.5 billion each year, and that represents a paltry one tenth of one percent of the entire federal budget. The level of funding has never seemed commensurate with the value of the Parks. The current level of funding that increases to $2.7 billion is certainly not enough to make up for some of the shortfalls in funding of recent years but it is a positive start. The recent Second Century Report offered by a national blue ribbon panel reported that the nation’s parks have been operating at an annual deficit of $750 million a year in recent times. The Second century Commission in the same report strongly recommended that Heritage Area program’s like Essex Heritage be embraced by the Park Service in the future. In addition to funding for National Park Service units, other preservation based organizations like The Forest Service, The Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Wildlife Refuge System also received increases in the recent congressional funding. The budget for next year has increased for all units of the National Park Service so the two units (Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site) that exist within the boundaries of the Essex National Heritage Area will be positively affected, and for that we are pleased. Any measure that provides more resources to the senior partner of Essex Heritage can only be thought of as a positive action,

Essex Heritage Planning Continues

I recently reported on a meeting at the Ipswich Town Hall that the coalition that has been organized by Essex Heritage to help create a Scenic Byway in this region that was held to focus on progress to date. That session was the last in the current round of meetings and great progress was made during this first phase of the planning process that brought professionals together from the affected communities to begin to outline pertinent issues. The next set of meetings that will begin to consider more details on the specific improvements that can be made along the proposed route will begin again just after the start of New Year. The plans for this effort remain quite fluid and input from all the communities and residents and other interested entities will be considered as the project moves forward... The ultimate plans call for the designation of the Byway nationally and efforts to seek funding and to “flesh out” some of the ideas that will be developed during this process, The wonderful collaborative efforts that have been mounted by all of the participants in this effort is a classic example of how Essex Heritage works best. The Commission since its earliest days has been all about bringing disparate groups together to accomplish common goals. The Essex Heritage Scenic Byway is a wonderful example of this process in action.

Local Election Results

` Yesterday was Election Day in many communities in the Essex Heritage Area, and now that the results are all counted, Essex Heritage wants to offer congratulations to the winners of the local mayoral races in the area. In some cases the wins were hard earned, and in every case we also want to take a moment to acknowledge that for every winner in an election race there is a contestant that finished second. We also congratulate those participants for their effort. The local winners, subject to a possible recount in Lynn that we congratulate and look forward to working with in the future are:

Amesbury Thatcher W. Kezer
Beverly William F. Scanlon Jr.
Gloucester Carolyn A. Kirk
Haverhill James J. Fiorentini
Lawrence William Lantigna
Lynn Judith F. Kennedy
Methuen William M. Manzi
Newburyport Donna D. Holaday
Peabody Michael J. Bonfanti
Salem Kimberley Driscoll

North Shore Chamber Breakfast

This morning I attended the monthly breakfast meeting of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce at the Marriott Hotel in Peabody. Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll who was elected yesterday to a second four-year term provided an update on the new MBTA garage and waiting area that will also service the new courthouse currently being constructed in Salem That project is on a short deadline and must be designed accepted and build by year end 2011. The primary speaker to the usual full house of attendees was Judge Robert Cornetta who is the presiding justice in the Salem Court system. He provided an update on the new Superior Court project currently underway in Salem that is “on schedule and under budget”. He indicated that the project will have a substantial impact on the economic future of Salem and is expected to be complete and ready for use in mid 2011. The judge who in a former life served as the Town Manager of Saugus also provided an update on the court system in general. He indicated that recent State budget cuts have had a substantial negative effect on the system, and future cuts will even deepen to a greater degree the difficulties of the state court systems. He indicated that progress is being made to automate civil court procedures in the system, but that the criminal process is becoming more and more difficult to administer. A change in the way sentencing is handled is a must if the system is to continue to operate efficiently in the future.

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

1 comment:

  1. Tom - I enjoyed reading your blog. Good way to stay up to date on what the Commission is doing. See you soon - Bill Luster