Friday, March 5, 2010

Weather Issues, CPA Legislation Progressing, Nenburyport Updates, MIAA Basketball Game


Weather Here and Up and Down the Atlantic Coast

I have been most reluctant to comment on the weather while I have been visiting Florida for this last month, lest it appears that I am complaining, but the weather has been most unusual. When we talk to people that have lived here for years or that have visited in the winters they confirm that this winter season is without precedent. I can only comment on what has transpired since early February, but the cool, very unseasonable weather has been in place this season since December 2009. In past visits we have experienced the occasional cold front that would come in from the north every other week or so, and would hang around for a day or so and then we would return to typical Florida weather. This year has been most different as the cold fronts seem to come through every four or five days and it never really warms up to the typical conditions. In the almost four weeks that we have been here, I believe that we have only seen one or two days when the temperatures reach into the seventies

On the other hand I have a friend in the New Jersey area that has experienced three snowstorms of over a foot and a half in just the last month. This same friend advises that in the previous three years he did not even have to take out his snow blower during the winter. While we feel sorry for our friend in the mid Atlantic states from New York to the Carolinas we are pleased the New England seems to have been spared from heavy snow so far this winter season. There certainly have been plenty of rain, and about a week ago the Essex County region experienced some heavy wind and lots of damage and power outages, so the region was not immune to bad weather. When we add in two unbelievable earthquakes to strike the Caribbean and then South America. We are certainly experiencing our share of uncomfortable weather worldwide.

Substantial Work Being Done to Keep Newburyport Downtown Fresh and Current

I hope that all of the friends of Essex Heritage saw the story that appeared in the Boston Globe North edition over the weekend. The story provided a wonderful recap of some behind the scenes work being done by three old friends in Newburyport. The three men responsible for a renewed interest in keeping the downtown section of this historic port city in good shape are Byron Mathews, Jon Woodman and Jack Bradshaw. This is not new work for these three community activists as they were the same three responsible for the renaissance of the city three decades ago. The work that they fostered thirty years ago turned a community that has started to show its age into a Mecca for retail shopping and dinning was a labor of love and a godsend for the community. They have resurrected their energies once again to work on raising funds to correct some of the wear and tear issues that have crept into the wonderful work that they did years ago. This effort to raise private funds to help keep the City of Newburyport at the “top of its game” is to be applauded. They have raised awareness of the issues and generated substantial interest in lending a hand to their effort. They recruited the Sheriff of Essex County, Frank Cousins and he has provided some help with work crews that have eradicated unsightly graffiti and repaired some of the brickwork that had started to deteriorate. We take special interest in this effort, as former Mayor Byron Matthews is one of our three Heritage Hero award winners that will receive awards in May 2010 at the Tupelo Music Hall in Salisbury. Our choice of Byron, as a Heritage Hero winner continues to gain even more traction, as he has never been willing to rest on past accomplishments and is constantly tackling new challenges like the update of the renewal efforts in his home town of Newburyport.

CPA Legislation Moving Forward and Peabody Used CPA Funds Again

At Essex Heritage we have received a communication from the Community Preservation Coalition urging us to support their efforts and to get others to weigh in to get the Community Preservation Act updated. Senate the House Ways and Means Committee are currently considering Bill 90 and if the bill receives a favorable recommendation the bill could be presented to the House and the Senate late this year for passage. The community Preservation Act has been approved by about half of the communities in Essex County and many other communities in the region could benefit if the law is passed. The CPA has been a most important law as the funding statewide has created many jobs, preserved thousands of acres of agricultural land and open space, has preserved or rehabilitated 1600 historic sites and has helped create over 3000 units of affordable housing. Please consider contacting your state Senator or Representative and ask them to support this proposed legislation.

In this region the City of Peabody that seems to be the poster child for this legislation is active again using CPA funds. That community’s City Council just approved an appropriation of $6,800.00 to restore a historic mural in an old post office now used by a local non-profit. The mural that is 12 feet by 5 feet depicts some scenes from the early days in the leather industry in the Leather City. The money from the CPA funding will also be used to restore some old city athletic films dating back to 1932. These films are currently on 16mm film and would be lost to future generations without the restoration efforts made possible by the CPA funding. Some indications exist that the films might be converted to a saleable CD and the funds earned from those sales returned for other preservation efforts by this most active committee under the leadership of Essex Heritage Trustee Emeritus, Bill Power.

St Johns Prep Hoop Squad Heads to TD Garden Tonight

I am going let my personal feelings for St John’s Prep take over here, and offer them congratulations for their trilling one point win over Lynn English earlier this week in a packed Salem High School field House. We also wish them well tonight as they head for the Garden for the next step in the State basketball playoffs. This is the first trip to the TD Garden for the Prep team since the mid 1970’s and they face a very tough task as they play a very talented Central Catholic team from Lawrence. They lost to the Lawrence school earlier this year and a win tonight would be a great step for the mostly undergraduate team from Danvers. This will be a great experience for the young Prep team who most see as a powerhouse next season. At least we can be certain that whatever team wins tonight an Essex County entry will be moving on to the next round.

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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