Tuesday, February 9, 2010

First Post from Florida, Informal Meeting with Wakefield Town Manager, Trustee Meeting Today, Regional Survey Planned

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2010 from Florida

We were a little concerned last Saturday morning that we would be delayed getting out of Boston, but the storm that impacted the mid Atlantic states really never arrived in Boston. We arrived in Florida that is a little different than years gone past. It has been a little cooler and cloudier than in other years, but since we have arrived we have not had to shovel any snow yet, so that is a plus. My reports on Essex Happenings a couple of times a week during the next six weeks will continue to focus on activities in the Essex Heritage region, with a few comments on the area that I am visiting.

Meeting with an Old Friend and Associate

Just before I left for Florida, I attended the monthly breakfast meeting of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce at the Marriott Hotel in Peabody. I sat with an old friend and former business associate that I had not seen in some time. Stephen Maio, the Town Administrator of the Town of Wakefield at one time worked for me at Salem Five. He left the bank to obtain a law degree, practiced law for a time in Salem and then ran successfully for a seat on the Wakefield Board of Selectmen. Steve has a long time connection to the Town as he was born and raised in that community, and if I remember correctly his dad served for many years as the Superintendant of Schools in Wakefield. He recently was named the Town Administrator for that Town, and now has responsibility for the management of that community of 26, 000 residents right on the borders of the Essex National Heritage Area, It was most pleasant to speak with him about plans that the Town has for their wonderful recreational asset, Lake Quannapowitt, which is used for biking walking, running, boating and other forms of exercise. Steve pointed out that the Town is working on plans to get locals and visitors alike that use the lake to go a step further and head into Wakefield’s downtown for lunch or dinner after their trip around the lake.

We also spoke about a bike trail that the town is working on developing that could ultimately connect into the larger series of trails being constructed all over this region. The Essex Heritage long time connection with the Coastal Trails Coalition in Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury and our connection with the Border to Boston bikeway will ultimately pay great dividends for this entire region because of the great connectivity of the region. As I look around the area where I will spend the next six weeks, I am clearly envious of the bike ways that exist in this part of Florida, and can only contemplate what our area in Essex County will look like a decade from today.

It was clear in my brief conversation with Steve Maio that even though Wakefield is not part of the Essex Heritage region that he is most aware of our mission, and is supportive of any effort that brings more visitors to this general region. The work of Essex Heritage to introduce the importance of the “quality of life issues” in this part of the State is important to all in the region, even if a particular community is not directly “in the Essex Heritage region”.

Essex Heritage Board of Trustees Meeting Held this Morning

This morning at the North Shore Chamber offices a quarterly Board of Trustees meeting was held. I could not be there, but I am pleased to note that at the meeting, Charlie Cullen of the Provident Bank in Newburyport was officially welcomed to the Board, and Bruce Whear of Wire for Hire in Salem was elected to the Board and joined the group at the meeting.

Potential for Regional Survey Outlined at Meeting

Another important issue that was scheduled to be examined at the Essex Heritage Board meeting held this morning was the outline of a regional study that could be underway shortly. Essex Heritage leadership has been discussing with Salem State College President Patricia Meservy and Dr. Lori Krebs of the Center for Economic Development and Sustainability the possibility of the college working collaboratively with Essex Heritage and the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development and possibly the North Shore Chamber of Commerce to complete a regional survey. The survey would help define “the quality of life” on the North Shore and to measure the economic value of that esoteric theory. The work would be accomplished this upcoming semester by the College with the help of its students and faculty. The starting point for this new cooperative venture took place at the ENHC Board meeting where the first test of the survey documents were completed Dr. Krebs conducted a short survey of ENHC Trustees at the meeting today to gain their insight into this issue. It is anticipated that the work to accomplish this task will take most of the spring 2010 semester, and in May or June results will be complete. At that time Essex Heritage will have quantifiable information that will assist the Commission is direct our preservation, promotion and education projects with a more direct focus. The results would then receive a wider dissemination as the region would be advised of the results.

Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem

On St. Patrick’s Day 2010 the Salem Boys and Girls Club will be conducting a Shamrock Sweepstakes to benefit the wonderful work of the Salem club. The club serves hundreds of Salem youth, and programs are broad and varied and are run year round. A limited number of tickets will be sold for this event and winners will receive cash prizes at an event scheduled for March 17, 2010 at the Salem Waterfront Hotel. Tickets are available at many locations in Salem and can also be purchased at the club at 13 Hawthorne Blvd. in Salem. For more information see the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem web site at www.bgcgs.org or call 978 744 0915

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts at www.essexheritage.org. Thanks. Tom Leonard

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