Tuesday, February 23, 2010 from Florida
Florida State Parks Alive and Well
Over several recent posts to this BLOG we have reported on the financial woes that have beset some State Parks in both Massachusetts and other states. We are all very aware of cuts that have been made in Massachusetts to the park budgets with reductions across the board. We have also reported recently on major cuts in Pennsylvania that have been thought by many to have one of the finest State Park programs in the country. There have also been severe cuts made in other states, like California and other western states. I am not sure of the financial conditions of the State parks here in Florida, but one sensational park that is located about 5 miles from where we reside in the winter stay we enjoy certainly seems to be thriving.
De Soto State Park located in St. Petersburg is the largest State Park in Pinellas County. The park is a 1,136-acre preserve that contains seven miles of some of the most pristine beach I have ever seen. The North Beach was named in 2009 for the second year in a row, as America’s best beach. In addition to the beaches at the park there are wonderfully diverse amenities to please nearly any visitor, and in 2009 the park had 2.7 million visitors including my wife and I. The park is made of five interconnected islands and wonderful examples of Florida growth is preserved for present visitor and future generations as well. If the beach were not enough of a draw, there is a civil war fort on the site that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The fort is a great place to explore, and generally there are hundreds of families looking over the battlements. There is a superb boat launching facility and a fishing pier, nature trails and a 6.8 mile paved bike trail that is always very busy.
The parkland was purchased from the federal government in 1938 and was opened as a State Park in perpetuity in 1962. Over the many years that we have visited this area we have always made it a point to make several visits each year to this site, and in the past, we have viewed several civil war encampments complete with mock battles. The weather so far this year has been a little too cool so far for the beach, but we have been to the park once already for a long walk, and certainty before we return to Essex County in late March, I am certain we will make a couple of additional trips to sample this wonderful resource.
National Trust for Historic Preservation
I regularly receive the newsletter from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the recent edition contained information on two interesting issues. The newsletter provided information on a movement being mounted to spearhead a hearing by the Congress to take the first steps to establish a US Civil Rights Heritage Trail. This would be just a first step by the Congress, appropriately mounted during Black History Month to establish and preserve for future generations several important sites to highlight the history of civil rights activities in this country. This certainly seems like an appropriate course of action for the Congress.
The second item in this month’s newsletter would allow visitors to the web site of the preservation organization to view one dozen Distinctive Destinations in this country and vote for their favorite place. There are three sites from New England in the dozen identified sites. The three New England sites include Rockland, Maine, Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Simsbury, Ct. You can visit the National Trust for Historic Preservation web site at www.nthp.org and cast your vote. I cast a vote for Rockland Maine when I was on the site.
Salem Theatre Company Opens in New Location
The Salem Theatre Company has a new home in downtown Salem at 90 Lafayette Street. This is a wonderful addition to the arts scene in Essex County. The new theatre offers 60 seats, and over the next three weekends the theatre company will offer several presentations to help dedicate the site. Reservations are encouraged, but tickets if available can be purchased at the door on the night of the performances. The new facility is a wonderful addition to the Salem downtown, and adds another nighttime activity for the fast growing group of residents that now populate the downtown area. To get more information on the theatre and the schedule of presentation visit www.salemteatre.org.
Town of Hamilton Town Administrator Decides Not to Apply for New Position
Essex Heritage has learned that Ms Candace Wheeler who has served for many years as the Town Administrator for the Town of Hamilton has decided not to apply for the new position that the Town will offer as Town Manager. Ms Wheeler has always been a good friend to Essex Heritage and has served the Town of Hamilton in a most exemplary manner and her long service and history of the Town will be missed. The Town has been well served by Ms Wheeler, and we wish her well in whatever course she now chooses to pursue.
Endicott College to add Wind Power Component to Campus
It is most positive to learn that Endicott College is considering the construction of a windmill on the Beverly Farms campus. The new tower that will support the windmill will be erected at the rear of the campus in a wooded area. And in the future the new turbine is anticipated to provide 30% of the electric power needs for the college campus. I expect that in the future we will see even more programs like this one to help modify escalating costs, and the same time protecting the environment. Any time we see a program like this one being put in place it is a most positive sign for the region.
Danvers School System Planetarium
The Danvers school system has recently learned that the planetarium that has been part of the High School for many years will need to be torn down to make way for the construction of the new High School. People connected with the Planetarium have indicated that they would like very much to see that facility survive in another location. The physical needs to handle the equipment in the planetarium requires about 1200 sq ft of space with twenty-foot ceilings. That will be a task to find such a space at a reasonable price, but if anyone out there who has a lead on such a space please contact the Danvers School Department.
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