Friday, February 12, 2010

Background on Florida Location, City of Lawrence, Two Preservation Projects, and the Passing of an Associate


A Little Background on the Area of Florida where we reside

When we are in Florida for our winter visit we stay in a community called Treasure Island. The community is an independent municipality that is a part of St Pete Beach. Our location is in a condominium project called Lands End and it contains 175 units in several four-story buildings. The property is located at the end of a mile long dead end street that terminates at a canal that intersects with the Gulf of Mexico. It is a pleasant residential neighborhood, and it is really amazing to view the number of housing units along the way to our rental that are for sale, Several years ago, the neighborhood had experienced a renaissance as some smaller units were torn down to make room for larger units that were then constructed. The condition of the Florida real estate market is highlighted in the dozens of properties for sale along this one-mile stretch that fronts on the Gulf. In 2010 there are actually more units for sale than there was in 2009, and that time the inventory for sale was incredible. When one travels around this part of Florida it seems as if half the state is for sale. I suppose at some time in the future the inventory will catch up with demand but that does not seem to the case in 2010.

As I noted this area is primarily a residential neighborhood, but right at the head of the street where the street meets the main road into St Pete Beach is an outdoor bar and restaurant that certainly does an amazing amount of business when the weather is excellent. I mention the restaurant as with college break coming up in a week or so, the Town is considering changes to bring what on some days seems like chaos under control. They are speaking of a larger police presence, better control of the contents of coolers on the beach and general crowd control. It does seem strange that in light of making some conservative changes, that the community is considering changing the curfew for establishments that serve alcohol from 2:00 am to 3:00 am, to match the curfew time in nearby Tampa. The establishment can start serving alcohol at 7:00 am, so the hours of operation are most generous. The entire area thrives on tourism, and does whatever it can to encourage visitation.

The City of Lawrence and their Financial Stability

During my stay in Florida, I regularly read the on-line versions of the Boston Globe and the Salem News and do my very best to stay current on activities in the region. One of the more prominent stories in those papers this week was an update on the situation in Lawrence. It seems clear to me that the conditions that the Massachusetts Legislature are indicating that they will impose on the City in exchange for loans to help stabilize that community seem most reasonable. It seems to be a most reasonable solution to encourage the new Mayor to resign his seat in the State legislature and concentrate all of his efforts on putting the city of Lawrence back on a positive track. The state seems inclined to offer financial support along with some oversight of operations in the city in exchange for what appears to be most reasonable conditions. Lets hope that Mayor Lantigna will find a way to come to an agreement with the State and the citizens of Lawrence will have some most needed help in working through their current financial difficulties. There are thousands of residents of that community that will certainly suffer if the current conditions with an expected $25 million deficit is allowed to continue. The City of Lawrence is an important community in this region and the wellbeing of the many residents of that community is most important to the region.

Two Preservation Projects Scheduled in the Region

It was nice to see that two projects in the Essex region were announced this week. The Trustees of Reservations announced that they would be undertaking a major rehab of the Grand Allee at Castle Hill. The Grand Allee was designed originally by Arthur Shurcliff who was also responsible for the design of the esplanade along the Charles River in Boston. The Trustees announced that they were be removing nearly 100 trees on that wonderful plot of land that runs to the sea to restore the view for the Crane property to what it was when the property was first built. The trees will be replaced with smaller plantings that will be trimmed as hedges as they mature improving the view. That certainly will change the already spectacular views from the main house.

The other project of interest was the announcement that the Trustees of Goldthwaite Reservation in Marblehead wishes to restore the marsh at the Goldthwaite Reservation adjacent to Devereux Beach. Over the years much fresh water has invaded the marsh, and the plans will be restore that site as a salt-water marsh. The Trustees are anticipating some opposition to their planning, as the work to free culverts from weeds that are blocking the project might have to be treated with some spraying. The costs of this project will be borne, as the Trustees of Reservation project in Ipswich will be handled with private funding. Both of these projects are most positive and will improve land preservation that the mission of Essex heritage certainly endorses.

Loss of a Friend and Major Contributor to the Region

I learned earlier this week of the passing of Mary Kelly of Wenham. Mary served for many years as the long time Director of the Danvers Council on Aging. I had the wonderful pleasure to have served as the Chairman of the Board of the Council during the years during and after Mary led the Council to a National Accreditation. After Mary retired from the Town of Danvers, she joined the staff of the Danversbank, where she helped create Destinations Danvers, a widely successful travel program for bank clients. Mary touched many in this region over her years of service to both the Town of Danvers and the bank and in every case her impact was substantial. Mary Kelly left this earth a better place than is was when she first arrived. She will truly be missed. My condolences to her husband Tom and their four daughters. Rest in Peace Mary, and know that your efforts directed towards the seniors in this region were substantial and appreciated by all who you met and served.

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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