Monday, December 14, 2009

Essex Heritage Easement Committee, Vocational Technical Funding Assured, Salem Award Funding Provided, Essex Heritage Regional City Hall Grants

MONDAY, December 14, 2009

Essex Heritage Organizes a Preservation Restriction Easement Committee

Over the last several months a group a committed Trustees and Commissioners of the Essex National Heritage Commission have been meeting to consider the terms under which, Essex Heritage would accept a Preservation Restriction Easement to protect and preserve the facade of a series of rehabilitated apartment buildings in Lynn. With the final acceptance of the preservation easement, Essex Heritage will take on certain responsibilities to insure that the building’s façade remains without changes that would affect its present status. The Commission will be compensated for this action and the funding received will assist the Commission in its efforts to support its other preservation, education and trail programs that have become so important to the entire region. Plans have been made to insure that the façade of the Lynn buildings stays intact and annual inspections of the property will be undertaken by a professional employed by the Commission. The legal work to prepare the easement that will be offered and ultimately accepted by the Commission must be completed before the end of this calendar year, and the documents supporting the action must also be approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the City of Lynn. We certainly appreciate the work being done by the members of the Essex Heritage Committee, as there has been a substantial amount of work already accomplished by this group with several more steps to be accomplished before the deeds are finalized and recorded. This is the first such deed accepted by Essex Heritage and there is a strong possibility the in the future similar actions may be undertaken by Essex Heritage to insure that historic building facades in the region are preserved.

Governor Confirms Support of Vocational School

Last Friday, Governor Deval Patrick and Lt. Governor Murray made an appearance at the North Shore Vocational Technical School in Middleton to confirm the Commonwealth’s financial support for the new North Shore Regional Vocational and Technical School planned to be built in Danvers. The financial support that will be offered by the State is a critical component of the new school’s financing package and without that support that project would nit be possible. During the last several weeks a number of communities in the region have voted their support of the new school and those local votes put the support needed locally “over the top”. Votes of support in Peabody, Gloucester, Salem and Beverly when added to support previously offered by the Town of Danvers confirmed that enough local communities have agreed to join the new school district to insure that construction of the new facility can begin to be planned. Essex Heritage was one of the first regional organizations to offer its support to this effort and is pleased to see that the program can now move forward. There are still a number of smaller communities that still need to vote to participate, but the support in hand now insures that the project can move to a successful conclusion. There is still some concern that the City of Gloucester may move to change its vote, but even with that issue the next steps in the planning process for the school can still begin. This new facility when built will certainly be a boon to the region and Essex Heritage looks forward to the time when it can structure an ongoing program with the new school to offer participating students from all over the region, opportunities in the preservation process in this region.

City of Salem Initiative to Support Salem Award

In 2001, the City, Salem and State College, working in conjunction with the National Park Service, local museums and the business community established a foundation to help perpetuate the Salem award. I am pleased to be a part of the Committee that has helped to promote this event for many years. The award was first provided in 1992 to commemorate the work of the Salem Witch Trail Tercentenary Committee to promote understanding of the lessons of the Salem Witch Trials. From that initial effort, the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice Foundation was founded in 2001 to continue the work started in 1992. This award is provided annually to recognize and honor present day champions of human rights and social justice.

This year the City of Salem has raised close to $5000 to support the Salem award, and that work is still ongoing. Earlier this year, Mayor Driscoll requested that the Salem City Council establish a revolving fund to collect a 25 cent surcharge on tickets sold at the City owned Witch House. All of the monies collected for this surcharge has been dedicated to help defray costs associated with the granting of the annual award, and to also provide support to the upkeep of the Salem Witch Trial Memorial. This has been a wonderful effort launched with the cooperation of the City of Salem Recreation Department and the work goes on and more money will be collected in the future to help support this important regional project.

Two Local Community Municipal Buildings Supported by Essex Heritage Grants

At this mornings Essex Heritage staff meeting, it was pointed out that a recent municipal improvement project supported by a grant from Essex Heritage is now complete. Pictures of the recently installed well crafted wooden windows installed at the Peabody City Hall were provided, and that installation is certainly a wonderful addition to a historic old municipal building. Just a couple of miles away, the oldest municipally owned building in the Town of Danvers is also undergoing a spectacular overhaul, and that building also benefited from a grant that has been provided by Essex Heritage. That work, although suffering a small setback by a fire in the attic space of the building will be complete and the building ready for re-occupancy in the spring of 2010. Essex Heritage is most proud of the support that they have been able to provide to these two communities, and recalls several other grants over the years that provided resources to the rehabilitation of other primary community municipal buildings in Salem, Salisbury and Saugus.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please offer you comments in the section at the end of this posting or contact me with your thoughts at Thanks. Tom Leonard

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