Monday, February 1, 2010

Wetland Site in Rowley Preserved, Newburyport Rail Trail Enhancements, Town Meeting in Danvers, Bishop Fenwick History, A Personal Note to End


Wetland Site in Rowley to be Preserved

A week or so ago, the Essex County Greenbelt Association made a purchase of slightly over 100 acres of open space in Rowley close to the Newbury line. The purchase of the property previously owned by East Boston Savings Bank is a major acquisition of land that will now protect a valuable wild life habitat and aid in the work of water resource conservation. The land that is mostly wetlands has been named by Greenbelt as the Great Swamp Brook Reservation. In its now preserved state the 106 acres site will be open to the public to use the land for such passive uses as walking, hiking, trail running, bird watching and snowshoeing. Greenbelt officials indicated that the land is perfect for conservation use and it presently home to many species. Additionally, the Great Swamp Brook runs trough the property and drains into both the Mill and Parker Rivers and that makes the property a wonderful water conservation resource. The swamp will also feed the Great Marsh the 25,000 acre resource that runs from Gloucester to southern New Hampshire. Essex Heritage has worked closely with Greenbelt since our inception, and congratulates them on their actions and the positive impact that it will have on the region that we both serve. East Boston Savings Bank should also receive plaudits for its actions, as it recognized the importance of the site to the area, and worked diligently with the leadership of Greenbelt to make the sale of the land and the ultimate acquisition of the land a reality. For more information about the work of Essex County Greenbelt visit their website at

Rail Trail Upgrades

One of the highest profile projects that Essex Heritage has lent help to in recent years is the rail trail effort in the tri-town region of Amesbury, Salisbury and Newburyport. A recent announcement noted that one of those trails; the Clipper City Rail Trail was the beneficiary of an enhancement project in that city that will help spread public art in the community. Newburyport city officials have installed eleven stainless steel fish sculptures along the length of the rail trail. Since Newburyport is so defined by its maritime heritage, and the rail trail runs along the Merrimack River the eleven sculptures of local fish species seems a perfect fit for the trail. The sculptures that were created by local artist Bob Kimball certainly adds to the ambience of the trail as one travels along the trail hard by the river. The Clipper City Rail Trail was one of the first links to be created in the Border to Boston trail long advocated for and helped to be managed by Essex Heritage, and this enhancement is another step in the overall development of rail trail improvements in the region.

Special Town Meeting in Danvers

A special Town meeting in Danvers a week ago received some recent press based on the decision of that group to reject a Selectman and Finance Committee recommendation to enact a texting while driving ban. That action overshadowed the action that was approved to create a new zoning bylaw that will likely change the look of the Danversport section of that town forever. This section of Danvers that was devastated by an explosion on the eve of Thanksgiving several years ago will see that area changed from an industrial zone to a waterfront village zone. The Planning Board of the Town spent several years working on this proposal and should be complimented on their efforts as the result of that work was supported by the affected neighborhoods.

Fifty Year History of Bishop Fenwick Published

A wonderful history of Bishop Fenwick High School to commemorate that schools Golden anniversary has been written and published. The history tome was produced by the school as part of its year-long celebration of its special anniversary. Congratulations to Sister Cathy Fleming, SND the principal of the school, Audrey Sullivan the Board of Trustees Chair, and particularly Gary Larrabee who authored the memorial history book. Gary Larrabee is a long time Commissioner of Essex Heritage and has produced a wide range of historical commemorative books, for other regional organizations, like St John’s Prep, Salem Five Bank, Salem Country Club and Wenham County Club. The school will also be holding a celebration Gala on March 16, 2010 at the Danversport Yacht Club and information on that event, how to purchase a Bishop Fenwick History Book and all other information about the 5oth Anniversary celebration can be found at

End Today’s Post with a Personal Note

Over this past weekend, we enjoyed two wonderful evenings of music that were very different but most enjoyable. On Friday we helped organize a concert at the complex where we live to help bring residents together and to raise money for a very worthy cause. Jody Meyer who I have known for many years in her role as a teacher at St John’s Prep and Anne Farmer make up a superb duo, that play a type of harmonious folk music. They presented a concert for a full house of residents at the Olde Salem Village complex in Danvers. Jodie and Ann who have a reputation of offering their services for good causes once again provided their wonderful music free of any charges since we had designated that all offerings collected that night would be sent to support the work of the Danvers People to People Food Pantry. The evening was a great critical success and a substantial gift of cash was raised for the food pantry.

On the following night, along with my sister and her husband we attended a concert at the DCU Center in Worcester with two country music stars. I would not say that I consider myself a Country music aficionado but several years ago, my wife and I attended a holiday show in Lowell that featured Martina McBride and we enjoyed that show so much that when we learned that she would be in Worcester we purchased tickets to attend. We were not disappointed as the show that featured Ms. McBride and another country music star, Trace Atkins was wonderful, and we all enjoyed the evening. It should also be noted that recently elected US Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown was in attendance at the concert and was introduced to what turned out to be an adoring crowd. Based on the reception he received in Worcester he certainly is a “man of the people”, and certainly much is expected of him as he makes his way to Washington in the weeks ahead.

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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