Monday, January 25, 2010

Essex Heritage Breakfast Held, Congressman Tierney Keynote Speaker, Danvers Town Meeting, Fishing for Sustainability, Thank You Endicott College

Monday, January 25, 2010

Essex Heritage Municipal/Legislative Breakfast

This morning a strong cross section of regional elected officials, and business leaders from the region Essex Heritage serves gathered at the Marriott Hotel in Peabody to learn about the current activities of Essex Heritage. The weather this morning was a bit threatening and we were worried that those predicted conditions might serve as an attendance impediment, but that certainly was not the case. The projected rain and wind held off at least until we could conduct our meeting and get people back to their more normal schedule of events. We were most gratified by the number of Mayors, Town Managers, Administrators, Selectmen, and State officials who gathered with some of our partner organizations for breakfast and an update of Essex Heritage activities both past, present and future.

Our two senior volunteers, current President Kevin Tierney of Saugus Bank and Immediate past President Nancy Huntington Stager of Eastern Bank provided a great overview of the past accomplishments of the Commission, and laid the groundwork for a new strategic vision for the future. The presentation was most complete and left the officials gathered with a much greater appreciation of the mission of Essex Heritage. Kevin Tierney focused on the advocacy work of the all volunteer group, and paid particular attention to the successes Essex Heritage has had in attracting substantial federal grants to the region. It was also illustrated how the federal grant dollars had been leveraged to produce an even more substantial financial investment in the region. These investments substantially impact the regional economy. Several current projects that focus on the collaborative nature of the regional Essex Heritage strategy were outlined, with a particular emphasis on the Scenic Byway Project, the Border to Boston Bikeway, the stewardship role Essex heritage has been asked to play with the Baker’s island light station and the reinstatement of the Essex Heritage Partnership Grant program. The grant program that is clearly one of the most participatory and successful programs ever offered by Essex Heritage, and is now back in operation, and On-Line grant applications are now being received at www.essexheritage,org. A brief overview of preliminary plans to create a broader National Park Service presence in the region without any acquisition of private property was provided, and thoughts to create a program in this region similar to the Boston Harbor Islands program were outlined. This expansion effort might encompass much of Salem Sound, and might be thought of as a Harbor Islands North effort

Congressman Tierney the Keynote Speaker

We were particularly pleased that Congressman John F. Tierney was able to join us this morning. John has been one of the strongest advocates we could ever have had for the work of Essex Heritage. His commitment to this program has been unwavering since that day he took office in the Congress, and has been a forceful voice for funding for Essex Heritage. That has not been easy, as the Congressman pointed out this morning. The biggest competitor the Essex Heritage has in Washington is our own success. So much has been accomplished by Essex Heritage in its brief twelve year existence that other regions all over the country have attempted to emulate that success by trying to establish a similar concept in their particular section of the country. These competitors continue to seek some of the available National Park Service funding for similar projects, but the achievements of Essex Heritage and Congressman Tierney’s strong voice has kept the necessary funding in place for this region.

The Congressman then spent the rest of time at the podium speaking of the “landscape” in Washington and the changes that the recent election of new Massachusetts Senator Scott brown has had on that process. He also provided information on the continuing need of the country, this State and our region to create more and more jobs. This along with education is an important phase of the Congressman’s work in Washington, He concluded his remarks with another ringing endorsement of the work of Essex Heritage, and pledged to continue to be an advocate for our cause.

Special Town Meeting in Danvers Tonight

In my role as a member of the Danvers Finance Committee, I will attend some portion of the special Town meeting tonight at the Middle school, where banning texting while driving, and the acquisition of a property currently owned by the Town will be considered to be sold to a Town supported organization interested in the creation of more affordable housing. The bulk of the meeting will be devoted to several complex zoning matters, including moves to change the existing zoning in the Danversport section of Town,

Fishing for Sustainability

This past Sunday the Boston Globe North edition carried two interesting stories about the fishing industry that may really be a sign of the times. One story focused on a group of Shrimp fishermen who have teamed up to pre sell shares of their catch that allows local families to receive a set amount of shrimp ready for the table each week. This shareholder concept has been widely used by area farmers in recent years, and seems to be a trend that other food producers are using. The second item concerned a Seabrook NH fisherman and his wife who after spending the early part of the day fishing, then after a tedious day at sea, comes home cleans and removes extraneous parts of the fish that he has caught, and then markets it directly to pre arranged consumers. Both of these concepts could be ideas whose time has come.

Essex Heritage says Thank You to Local College Interns

Over the last couple of weeks, Essex Heritage has been the beneficiary of some wonderful highly technical computer support from two student interns provided by Endicott College in Beverly. The college has a regular student intern program and the work that was done for Essex Heritage in the past couple of weeks on the recently restored Partnership Grant Program was most helpful. Thank you to Endicott College and Rick Mitchell from the Essex Heritage staff and to the student interns that they provided.

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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