Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Call for Preservation Action, Danvers Rail Trail, College Scholarships, Communications

Essex Happenings, Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Essex Heritage to Offer a Regional Voice to an Important Preservation Issue

The Essex National Heritage Commission is seeking instant community support to send an important message to Congress. The message … “Now is not the time to cut back on programs that not only save America’s heritage but save and create America’s jobs!”

Last month, heritage groups across the country learned that the Obama Administration’s FY 2011 federal budget is slated to make devastating funding cuts in several crucial preservation programs, such as National Heritage Areas, Save America's Treasures, and Preserve America. These critical historic preservation programs matter now more than ever, not only because they protect our national heritage but because they serve as economic development engines and job creators in the hundreds of communities served by organizations like Essex Heritage.

In addition to creating preservation jobs, which I have written about in the past, heritage sites sustain the important tourism sector that means so much to this region. ..We feel most confidant to report that in 2007 tourism within the Essex National Heritage Area drew 2.7 Million visitors alone, contributing to $15.1 Billion in direct sales and $943.3 Million in State and local spending all across the Commonwealth. We are now calling on local residents who care about historic preservation, and representatives of our many wonderful partner organizations to join us. Act now, and help us send a message to our Congressional delegation, asking them to support restoration of preservation funding as the House and Senate work on their respective budget bills,. The truth is that too many people think of National Heritage Areas and other historic preservation programs as a nice effort to support or invest in if there is some ‘extra’ federal money to spend. The fact is that preservation is a proven economic development and jobs creation tool that has the added benefit of fueling the travel and tourism sector, one of the nation’s largest service employers. Certainly, Essex County with its countless historic, cultural and natural resources has been and will continue to be a wonderful beneficiary of tourism activities in its many forms.

As a demonstration of its commitment to this effort, the Essex National Heritage Commission will participate in the National Trust’s initiative to raise awareness about proposed funding cuts by scheduling a public photo day. Essex Heritage will rally staff and other supporters for a Group Photo on Thursday, April 8th at 11:30am in front of the Friendship of Salem, docked at historic Derby Wharf within the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Participants will hold a sign that says "This Treasure Matters.” The photo will be sent to the Congressional delegation with a simple message - restore funding to federal preservation programs.

Essex Heritage invites the public and all partner organizations in Essex County to capitalize on this opportunity to connect our Members of Congress with their constituents on such an important local issue. Contact Essex Heritage at (978) 740-0444 or visit www.essexheritage.org for additional Photo Day and advocacy effort information. We truly need a broad based coalition of residents and organizations from the region we serve to join with us in this effort. Hopefully many of you will find the time to joins us on Thursday morning at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site to participate in this effort to bring awareness to the need to continue funding for organizations like yours and the Essex National Heritage Commission. The Friendship seems to be such a wonderful asset where a mobilizing rally can be held, as the ship certainly symbolizes the maritime history of this region and helps tell the continuing story of what historic preservation means to this part of the country.

Danvers Rail Trail Efforts

A couple of days ago, Essex Heritage received a copy of a message from the Town of Danvers Rail Trail Advisory Committee coordinator that was filled with positive news, if you are as Essex Heritage is a supporter of rail trail development. It appears that the committee and the coordinator, Senior Planner Kate Day has made much recent progress. The report focused on a contract that had been entered into between the Town of Danvers and a company named Iron Horse that will call for the removal of all of the rails along the proposed Danvers trail. As part of that process the smoothing of the rail bed for trail use will also be accomplished. In addition a committee of the Trail Advisory Committee has begun to discuss the eleven street crossings on the proposed trail and how they might be signed and provided safe access. Trail information and FAQ’s about the process will soon find its way onto the Town’s web site, and tonight the Board of selectmen will hear a report on progress from the Trail Advisory Committee. Any of you who have an interest in this potential Town recreational asset might want to see if you can make it to the meeting tonight or tune in to the meting on cable access to express your continuing support. I suppose that there are still many steps yet to be taken, but the progress that the committee has made in a relatively short period of time is extraordinary.

North Shore Community College Scholarship Committee

As a member of the North Shore Community College’s Scholarship Committee, it was a most positive experience to meet recently with the selection committee to listen to their recommendations... That hard working group made a presentation that outlined a list of 171 students at the school who have been recommended for $144,000 in total scholarships. The individual awards that start at $750 and go as high as $2,000 and the list of recipients was most impressive and we have been assured that they are equally most deserving of the awards. The list is held in confidence until the awards breakfast that is scheduled to be held at the end of May. I look forward to that meeting and sharing in the good fortune of the many students who would not be able to continue their college careers without this financial support.

BLOG Postings

Each quarter Essex Heritage provides a report to the National Park Service, the agency that oversees our funding. That report outlines the activities that we have undertaken in that particular quarter and provides information on the activities that helps make this region what it has become. For the last several quarters, I have been providing some statistical reports on Essex Happenings and how we are using this vehicle as one of the many communications tools, Essex heritage uses to help deliver our message to the residents of this region and the wonderful affiliated organization that we have as partners. As I researched the numbers for this quarter, I thought that I might share a couple of those statistics with you today. I began this process in July of 2009, and now just about nine months later, we have issued 107 postings to the BLOG and have offered commentary on over 460 individual activities in this region. We pledge to continue to provide these twice a week commentaries to be certain that we use every tool at our disposal to “speak” to you often about our mission and the value of our work...

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at www.essexheritage.org. We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. Thanks You. Tom Leonard

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