Friday, February 19, 2010

Florida Rail Trail, CPA Funding in Peabody,NSMT to Re-Open, Lawrence Heritage Park Program, and Eseex Heritage Photo Contest


Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail

In this part of Florida one of the most visible recreational assets is clearly the converted abandoned rail trail called the Pinellas Trail. The Fred Marquis Trail was named for a county official who worked diligently to make the Trail a reality in Pinellas County. 90,000 residents of this area use this wonderful recreational asset every month that stretches 34 miles from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs for both recreation and in many cases as a way to travel to work each day. The Trail that originally opened in 1990 is very visible as overpasses cross some of the busiest intersections in the area to carry users safely across the busy roads. There are even long stretches of the trail that cross some of the bays that are so prominent in the region.

The uses are varied as bikers, walkers, joggers and skaters use the trail and the linear park that has been created has preserved green space for the future. Along the way there are several stops where the users can stop and enjoy the water and other sights. A non-profit group than encompasses the entire area has been formed and they regularly raise funding for continuing efforts to enhance the trail, and benches, water and other amenities have been added. The final configuration of the trail is expected to be 47 miles in length and sections of the Trail are still in the planning stage or under construction. This trail mirrors what Essex Heritage is trying to accomplish with its leadership position on the Border to Boston trail that will run from Salisbury to Danvers. We certainly expect that the trail will certainly not end at Danvers, and trails south of that terminus have been built in Peabody and Salem and in the future hopefully connections to those trails can be made.

CPA Funding works again in Peabody

In Essex County, the community that has used the Community Preservation Act to the fullest is the City of Peabody. Mayor Michael Bonfanti and his Preservation Committee Chairman, former Essex Heritage Trustee, Bill Powers have shown how these funds can be used most effectively by a local community. The City has preserved open space, created parks, built recreational trails built community museums and preserved open space with the funds they have received from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Just recently the City is once again planning to use these funds to preserve land in the City that was in peril due to a potential development. The Mayor and his Preservation Committee has asked the city council for funds to acquire a four-acre site off Lynnfield Street in that community that could be developed into house lots if not preserved. The particular site in question is a former farm, and by preserving this site from development, the city is hoping to set up the land if acquired for community gardens to help preserve the fast disappearing farming heritage of that community, and also to open the land for other passive recreational uses. The Statewide Preservation Action organization that focuses on the Community Preservation funding is moving legislation forward in the Massachusetts legislature that would make adoption of the Community Preservation Act even more advantageous to a local community. At the present time about one half of the communities in this region have adopted the legislation, and if any community was interested in more information they can contact the Community Preservation Coalition at They will be happy to provide information on the progress of the current legislation and how a community can participate in this program.

Good News for the Theatre Lovers in the Region

It certainly appears that the old North shore Music Theatre on Dunham Road in Beverly will be active again sometime this summer. The new ownership that also owns other theatres in New England has completed the sale of the 28 acres site from Citizens Bank. The new owner Bill Haney has indicated that he wants to bring the Christmas Carol back to Beverly this December, and he obviously has other plans for the theatre this summer. My office has pointed out to me that a new web site has profiled Mr. Haney and other arts experiences in this region take a look as for more information on the arts in this region.

Lawrence Heritage State Park Program

One of our most active partners at the Lawrence Heritage State Park will be offering a most informative program that will be open to the public on Saturday February 27, 2010. The event called a (Un) Civil Action in Lawrence will be outlined by local historians Robert Forrant and Jim Beauchesne at the Heritage State Park site from 1 until 4 pm. An overview of the famous Bread and Roses strike of 1912 will be presented and then a segment of the documentary “John Brown’s Holy War” will be shown. Admission to the presentation is free but reservations for the presentation must be made. Refreshments will be served at the event. To make a reservation to assure your participation, call 413 588 1606.

Essex Heritage Photo Contest information for 2010 on the Web Site

I know that it was not long ago that entries were judged in the 2009 Essex Heritage Photo contest, but the 2010 information on how to participate this year are now on the Essex Heritage web site. Check out for complete information on how to enter your photographs in 2010 for the recognition that we provide the winners. Find out the categories that will be eligible and start snapping photos all over this wonderful region now. It is never too early to begin to chronicle what you view around this region on film. There will be several categories that photos can be entered and prizes and regional exposure for the entrants for the best entries will be 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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