Friday, December 11, 2009

Value of Planning for Essex Heritage, Bike Path Activity in Danvers, Community Financial Planning, Friendship to Sail in 2010


Value of organizational Planning

As I have noted in the recent past, Essex Heritage is currently performing a self-evaluation of all aspects of our operation in order to complete a strategic plan for the organization for the years ahead. Those discussions have been very valuable, and many members of our Board of Trustees have offered valuable advice, and have helped us to accomplish this task. During a recent session, we came to the conclusion that in the last decade or so, Essex Heritage has identified many wonderful assets that exist in this region and then created or designed programs that effectively shines a new light on those assets. One of the most noticeable assets that we have identified in the region, are the old rail lines that are now no longer in use, and that in the future can be put to new, and in today’s world better uses. Certainly in the future these former transportation assets can once again become as important as they once were, as bike and pedestrian trails and many of these are showing up all over the county on those old rights of way.

One of the programs that Essex Heritage has supported almost from the start of this initiative is how these rights of way could be better used to support active bike trails that can be used for both recreation and in many ways as alternative methods of transportation. We certainly do not or will not take credit as the only resource in the region who identified bike programs as important to the future, but it was one of those assets that we helped shine a light on, and pointed out their value to the region.

We are comfortable in knowing that our advocacy, and our effort to act as a convener of other resources has helped develop this reuse of a wonderful asset as a exciting new regional program. In dozens of communities within the region we serve planning for implementation and in many cases actual construction of bike and pedestrian trails have occurred. We expect that as the Border to Boston Trail moves forward, and Bike path planning in communities like Haverhill, Danvers and Peabody continues to advance, we will see even more successes. We are willing to take credit for at least helping to plant the seed of this idea, whose time we believe has arrived.

Related Bike Path Program in Danvers

In the Town of Danvers that is anticipated to be the southern gateway to the Border to Boston trail that will travel north to Salisbury two organizations are actively involved in trail planning in that community. The recently appointed, Town managed Rail Trail Advisory Committee has been formed and is organized and is holding regular meetings that like all town committee meetings, they are open to the public. The next meeting of that group if one wanted to attend is scheduled for December 16, 2009 at the Danvers Senior Center on Stone Street at 6:00 pm. The advisory committee at its last meeting elected a chairperson, Charles Lincicum and is supported by the Town of Danvers Senior Planner Kate Day, who can be reached at 978 777-0001 Ext 3029.

In addition to the town managed group, the Danvers Bi-Peds a group of Danvers residents interested in the progress of bicycling in Danvers continue to meet and plan for the future. This group of Danvers residents has organized a Holiday Hike along part of the proposed rail trail that will take place (weather permitting) on December 12, 2009 at 1:30 pm. The hike will start in the Hobart Street parking lot in Danvers and will travel down the rail bed to Tapley Playground. Footwear for snowy and rough conditions is recommended. For more information about this activity contact the Bi-Peds at 978 777-4661

Finance Committees All Over the Regions Coping with Changes.

On Wednesday evening in preparation for yet another Town Meeting in Danvers the Finance committee, that I serve on met to approve a number of transfers and re-allocations to bring the Town budget into balance. I suspect that this is an activity that is happening at other Town Meetings and City Council meetings in communities all over the region as political bodies are coping with decreasing revenues brought on by worsening economic conditions and state revenue sharing cuts to local governments. Danvers and other communities in this region for the most part are finding ways to make ends meet, but there are exceptions. The recent news relative the financial crisis in the City of Lawrence was bleak with revenues far short of what is needed to continue to effectively manage that community. It appears that the management of that city may have to fall to the State of Massachusetts, as they may have to step in to help Lawrence. This situation could become most serous as such a large portion of this community is made up of new immigrant families and in many cases those families require a level of continuing support that can be most costly.

News on the Friendship

As reported in this space not long ago, it is a wonderful to see the National Park Service’s replica sailing ship back in her homeport in Salem. The work that was done in Maine this past summer a fall put her in wonderful shape again and there was a big task accomplished while she was being repaired. Sometime in 2010 the Friendship will complete a series of sea trials that will allow her to receive certification to sail and take on passengers. Up to this point the only folks allowed to participate in sailing experiences on the Friendship were crewmembers. Starting sometime in 2010 passengers will be allowed to travel and enjoy the pleasures of a sea trip under full sail on the regions waters. Essex heritage is working with the National Pak Service to plan at least one such trip in the summer of 2010. If that kind of adventure is appealing to you, stay tuned for more information early in 2010.

New Football Coach With Local Ties Named at Notre Dame

This morning’s news that the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana has named a new football coach has some a local tie. The new coach, Brian Kelly who ran a successful program at the University of Cincinnati for the last few years grew up in Chelsea Massachusetts and is a graduate of St. John’s Prep in Danvers. We wish him well in this daunting task to restore Notre Dame football to its former glory.

As always we welcome your comments and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact us at with your thoughts. Tom Leonard

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