Friday, January 22, 2010

Essex Heritage Breakfast on Monday in Peabody, Heritage Hero Event Planning Advances, North Shore Alliance for Economic Development Holds Meeting


Essex Heritage Municipal/Legislative Breakfast on Monday

This Monday, January 25, 2010, Essex Heritage will hold a Municipal and Legislative leadership breakfast at the Marriot Hotel in Peabody. The meeting and the breakfast have been made possible due in part to a gift from our sponsor Salem Five Bank. Based on the wonderful advance response that we have had for this event the meeting and the discussion we expect to stimulate, this gathering will be a most meaningful regional event. We are particularly pleased at the response from local Mayors, Town Managers and Town Administrators and the elected officials who represent this region on Beacon Hill for their commitment of time with their attendance. An informative presentation that highlights plans for the next couple of years and takes the time to review the work of the last several years of activity will be outlined for our participants. We fully expect that when the meeting concludes all in attendance will have a greater understanding of the regional aspects of the work of Essex Heritage and will have a greater appreciation of what our projects have meant to the area. We are particularly indebted to our Immediate Past President, Nancy Huntington Stager from Eastern Bank and Current President Kevin M. Tierney from Saugus Bank for their willingness to take the lead in both the planning for and the presentation of the strategic vision that will be outlined on Monday. We are also appreciative that Congressman John F. Tierney has taken time from his active schedule to join us on Monday as our keynote speaker. With all that has gone on in Washington and in the State of Massachusetts in the most recent past, John’s observations and insights will be most timely, as will his continuing support for the Essex Heritage mission.

Heritage hero Planning Continues

In May 2010, at the Tupelo Music Hall in Salisbury, Essex Heritage and our Senior Partner, the National Park Service will present Heritage Hero Awards to three most deserving recipients. Former Mayor’s Nick Costello of Amesbury, Byron Matthews of Newburyport and long time travel and tourism advocate, Maria Miles of Salisbury will be honored for their work and their outstanding commitments to Essex County. These awards will be third in this series of awards as in the past Essex Heritage has recognized Jim McAllister of Salem, and Tom Costin of Lynn and Nahant .

Essex Heritage staff has been very busy organizing the event that will honor these three Essex County pioneers on May 20, 2010 and an Honorary Committee that will help promote and manage the event has been formed and that list looks like a "who’s who"of the tri-town area of Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury. Presentations that night will include a retrospective look back at the work that our three recipients have done to make their three communities what they are today. Provident Bank in Amesbury has agreed to be the title sponsor that evening, and several other local organizations have also committed their support. More sponsors are most welcome and commitment for the purchase of tables for the event can be secured now by contacting the Essex Heritage Director of Development, Mary Williamson at or by calling her at the Essex Heritage offices at 978 740 0444.

North Shore Alliance for Economic Development Winter Meeting

Yesterday, along with a wide ranging group of area activists, I attended the winter meeting of the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development held at the most impressive Cummings Center in Beverly. The meeting was presided over by Salem State College President Patricia Maguire Meservey and the Executive Director of the Alliance, Bill Luster. We were welcomed to the city by the long time recently re-elected Beverly Mayor, Bill Scanlon who provided a brief overview of what the Cummings Center property means to the City of Beverly. That presentation was followed by an update from the Cummings Center Property Manager who spoke of the size of the complex that has now grown to in excess of 2 million square feet of space currently occupied by over 500 clients and is still growing. There are certainly numerous employment opportunities that are presented at the Cummings Center property, and the project has also become the single largest tax payer in the community. In addition to the many North Shore business persons who are participating in the work of the Alliance, numerous municipal and elected officials who represent this region on Beacon Hill in Boston were also in attendance.

The primary presenter at the meeting was the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Robert DeLeo, who is just completing his first year in this leadership role. Speaker DeLeo painted a particularly bleak picture for the Commonwealth in the year ahead. He predicted that State revenues will continue to fall, and that will certainly affect how the Commonwealth can distribute funds to local communities and other worthy projects. The loss of revenue over this year and next would be the most precipitous drop in revenue over a two year period since World War Two. He reiterated his support for slot machines at tracks and indicated that he would support broader casino gaming in legislation that he expects to file next month. His rational for the support for gaming legislation is that it will create jobs. He repeated several times that priority one for the Commonwealth and the Legislature was the creation of more jobs for both this region, his community and for the state as a whole.

The Speaker also focused his remarks on transportation issues. He spoke of using federal stimulus funds to build a new 500 car parking garage in Revere near the Wonderland stop on the MBTA’s Blue Line. He indicated continuing support for extending the Blue line into Lynn, but provided no timetable for that extension. He also alluded to plans to reach out to businesses to encourage them to open dialog with Community Colleges to better train students in specific skills that would also add to the creation of jobs that will so important to the State this upcoming year.

The meeting ended with an announcement that was delivered State representative Ted Speliotis who represents Danvers and a portion of Peabody that a long awaited State highway project had been funded and construction would now begin this spring. The two exits at Route 35 and at Route 62 on Route 128 in Danvers that are two of the most dangerous exit and entrance ramps in the Commonwealth will be upgraded and provided with acceleration lanes. This project has been on local radar screens for nearly two decades, and hopefully will now be completed in a timely manner and it will certainly provide continued economic stimulus to business that need those ramps for access, including the Cummings Center in Beverly.

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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