Friday, January 15, 2010

Homelessness, Cape Wind, Gordon College, Martin Luther King Day, and Get out and Vote


Homeless Issue and Motel Living Featured in Newspaper

Over the last week, the Salem News has run a multi part series on the issue of homelessness and the poorly conceived solution by the State of Massachusetts to use local motels units as a solution to the problem. I congratulate the local newspaper for its comprehensive coverage of this most difficult issue, as homelessness is a most vexing issue in this country and the need for more public housing to help solve this issue is personified in the stories outlined in the Salem News series. The series reported on the difficulties young families who are placed in local motel units must endure as young children are subjected to most uncomfortable and difficult conditions, as the motel solution clearly does not work. The motel solution does not work well for any of the participants, as this plan places the affected families in a very difficult situation. In the series just presented it is also quite clear that the host community, in this case the Town of Danvers has also been severely disadvantaged as social services provided by the Town are taxed almost to the breaking point. The Senior Center staff that also has community council responsibilities and the wonderful People to People Food Pantry leadership has done yeoman work during this social crisis, but other issues that could have attended to at this time have not received the attention they should have received. In addition, the State Government who has mandated this solution provides virtually no financial support to the community that is obligated to provide not only social service support, but must provide substantial educational needs that in some cases includes an expensive transportation component. The Host community also has substantial public safety concerns added to the burden that is undertaken by the host community. The Town of Danvers and its many generous citizens should be complimented for the way that they have rallied around these “new residents of the Town”, to try to make the experience more tolerable than it could be, if just dropped into these locations without the level of support that the Town of Danvers has mustered. I certainly hope that early in this new year that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts finds a way to correct this obviously poor solution to a most difficult problem, and at the same time provides some financial relief to an already taxed municipal budget in the Town of Danvers.

Cape Wind Project Heads Towards a Solution

Recent news out of Washington indicates that the Secretary of the Interior is moving towards a final decision on a long tedious decision process focused on clean energy wind power. The project to try to build a large-scale wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod has moved along ever so slowly for almost a decade. The opposition and the support for the project have been very clearly identified, and regardless of which side of this issue a group settles on, the passion for the position is clear. There are many moving parts to this issue, and preservation interests, Native American Tribes, the National Park Service, clean energy advocates and business interests that want to build the wind farm, and many cape cod residents with conflicting positions have all clearly staked out their position and made their positions well known. The news today indicated that a decision on this very important project would be made by April 2010, and that is good as this project if approved could be the catalyst for other clean energy projects in other sections of the state. A series of projects being undertaken by other interests in this region could be most positive for the environment and for the general state of the region’s economy. The City if Salem has built a demonstration wind project on Winter Island and the final disposition of the Cape Wind project could give life to projects like the one in Salem and other projects in Essex county communities.

Gordon College to be Recognized by the City of Salem

Gordon College may have its main campus in Wenham, but they certainly have a wonderful commitment to a couple of important preservation projects in Salem. Since the spring of 2008, the colleges, Institute for Public History has been working in Salem to restore the replica village near the Forest River known as Pioneer Village, and a restoration and use project on the Old Town Hall, just off the pedestrian mall in Salem’s downtown. During the heart of the tourist season, the College offers an interactive presentation of “Cry Innocent: The People versus Bridget Bishop, where the audience at each performance acts as the jury at a mock trial. Both of those projects have been impacted positively by the College’s actions and their efforts have not gone unnoticed. On January 27, 2010 at the Salem Senior Center the City of Salem Park and Recreation Commission will recognize the college along with other organizations and individuals in the community for their efforts. Congratulations to all at the College responsible for the successes in Salem. Gordon College has worked diligently in Salem, to provide visible and exciting projects that help keep the cities 350-year history alive.

On Monday, Martin Luther King’s Life will be celebrated

On this Monday, January 18, 2010 the country and the region will celebrate the life of the great American patriot, Martin Luther King. The day will focus on the achievements of this man while he lived, and across the country, there will be presentations and commemorations that will honor his memory. This region is no different, as at St. John’s Prep there will be a first ever celebration where a long time teacher at that school will be honored for his commitment to the cause of equality. At the Danversport Yacht Club, the Friends of Danvers Committee for Diversity will meet to honor several individual who exemplify Dr. King’s legacy. I hope that on this holiday, you may be able to attend an event like the two enumerated here, or at the very least pause for a moment to remember the great cause of Dr. King’s life, and to reflect on how far this country has come since the death of Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King day is a holiday for Essex Heritage and as such, our offices will be closed. I will not offer a posting to “Essex Happenings” that day and will next “talk” to you on Wednesday, January 20, 2010.

US Senate Election on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I almost forgot to remind you of the importance of your vote on Tuesday. Regardless of who you support, the important thing is that you go to the poles next week and exercise you rights to cast a ballot and help choose who we will send to Washington D.C. to represent this state.

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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