Friday, May 28, 2010

Essex Heritage to Consider Membership Program, Next Photo Safari in Early June, Salem Offers Traffic Changes, Memorial Day Celebration


Essex Heritage Considering the Creation of a Membership Program

On December 16, 1996, United States President Bill Clinton signed legislation that was championed by the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy that created the Essex National Heritage Area. The work that our elected officials from this State and this region did to accomplish that task is appreciated by all in this region who have benefited from this status. In the almost fourteen years since the legislation was signed to create the Essex Heritage Area much has been accomplished. A governance structure has been created to mange the Area, and hundreds of volunteers have offered their time and many talents to assure that the work of the Essex National Heritage Commission was successful. Numerous collaborative partnerships have been established from one end of this region to the other, and initiatives like the Partnership Grant Program, Trails and Sails Weekends, the numerous educational programs that have impacted educators from school districts across the region, the work on the Border to Boston Rail Trail conversions and the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway currently in the planning stage are just a few of the regional programs Essex Heritage has instituted by working together with volunteers from all thirty-four of the communities and the hundreds of not-for profit partners where links were established and maintained.

Over this last decade, the Commission has expanded its reach and impact, and has reached out to hundreds of volunteers and partners from other regional organizations and asked for help as an advocate for our work in this region. We are pleased that so many responded to that call and agreed to serve at one time or another as a volunteer for Essex Heritage. Those volunteers have offered time, advice and influence and as a result we have been more successful than we ever anticipated, but times have changed and we also need to change to meet new challenges. Funding to support this initiative from both the federal and state governments have been reduced over time, as both new Heritage Areas have been created nationally and economic times have limited the financial support we have received. We have been the beneficiary of much wonderful financial support from numerous businesses and individuals in this region who have recognized the impact we have had on the quality of life in the region we serve, but if we are to continue our efforts we must expand that support.

Towards that end we are in the process of creating a first ever “membership program” to help support these efforts. During the next several weeks we will be preparing material to help support this effort, and we will begin to contact our most loyal supporters to ask if they would consider joining this new membership program that will begin on July 1, 2010 at the start of the Commission’s new fiscal year. We hope that in the next several weeks you will look for information from us in the mail or log onto our web site at to learn more about the Essex Heritage membership program. It is clear that in the future Essex Heritage will not be able to continue the broad based work of the Commission without this new level of support.

We would welcome any comments any of you might have about this new initiative and information about how to contact me can be found at the end of this BLOG posting.

The City of Salem Offers two new Innovations to improve Traffic Conditions

The City of Salem has become very busy, and that is a positive sign. Many new restaurants have opened and it seems that every month a new residential condominium or rental project comes on line. Last week I had the chance during a Salem Chamber of Commerce open House to view the restoration of the centuries old Salem Jail, that has become a most interesting residential project. With all of this activity have come limited parking and a fair amount of traffic, but that truly is the price of success. The City leadership has taken some new bold steps to help control this growth and I suspect that in time those steps will prove successful. Parking changes are being explored and even now on Friday and Saturday evenings in the downtown a valet parking experience for the many restaurants is underway on a trial basis. At a Salem Partnership monthly meeting late last week, Mayor Kimberly Driscoll outlined a number of new initiatives underway in the city. She announced that a half a dozen Zip cars are now available in the City for short term use. This seems like a perfect solution as many of the new downtown residents of the City are commuters to Boston on the nearby public train service and do not own automobiles. The Zip car process that allows for short term rentals when needed seems to be a great solution for this busy city.

Next Essex Heritage Photo Safari Scheduled for June 5, 2010

In just one week after we celebrate the unofficial start of summer 2011 on Memorial Day, the second Essex Heritage photo Safari will be held in North Andover. The second of four such events organized by Essex Heritage in partnership with Hunts Photo, Video and Digital in Melrose will be held at Rolling Ridge Resort in North Andover. This presented at this event will be Tamron, and as always participants will be able to use some of the best photographic equipment in the county at these events. To make a reservation for this event, contact

What are you doing for Memorial Day?

I recently received a mailing from an associate telling me about a program called, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund. The fund that has a web site is seeking support the families of fallen heroes. The organization is collected donations and for every $5 donated the organization will plant a flag in the Boston Common to support this cause. They hope to display 14,000 flags on the common over the Memorial Day weekend that will represent the service members from this state that have given their lives in the service of their country. This seems to me to be a wonderful way to celebrate this special national holiday. We certainly hope that weather permitting that you all enjoy the holiday with recreational activities and time with family and friends, but this is a way to really remember the meaning of the holiday. In any event, we hope that you have a pleasant holiday.

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 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

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Essex Heritage Hero Event, Joint effort with Danvers Historical Society, Graduation at St John's Prep, Trail Openings Exceed Expectations

Essex Happenings, Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Essex Heritage Hero Event a Great Success at the Blue Ocean Music Hall
The weather for late spring was sensational.
The venue and the host were exceptional.
The meal and the service was super
The staff at Essex Heritage executed a well prepared plan without a hitch.
The guest list exceeded expectations
The speakers and the MC were articulate and humorous when needed.
The associates who offered toasts were warm and heartfelt.
The honorees were humble and appreciative
The families of the Heritage Hero’s most supportive
The crowd was warm and receptive
The proceeds from the event will be put to a wonderful use
There is not much more than can be said about the Essex Heritage 2010 Heritage Hero event
Danvers Historical Society and Essex Heritage Hosts Photo Safari and More
Saturday morning, May 22 was a perfect morning to take photographs of a formal garden, and the Danvers Historical Society was a perfect host organization. It was a bit hazy in the early morning and there was still a bit of dew on the grounds, but I suspect that made the photo “ops” even more spectacular. Essex Heritage offered the second of our Photo Safaris at the Glen Magna Farms in Danvers on this pleasant late spring morning and the weather certainly cooperated to make the occasion a special day. Essex Heritage and the Danvers Historical Society hosted over two dozen amateur photographers who sampled top of the line camera equipment from Olympus and used the equipment to take photos of the spectacular formal grounds and timeless historic architecture on the grounds of Glen Magna Farms. Essex Heritage is pleased to be able to offer these opportunities as a result of a partnership with Hunts Photo and Video in Melrose; This Saturday was a busy day at the Farm, as the Society was also hosting a wedding on that day. It would have been difficult to find a Saturday in May when there was not a wedding scheduled on the grounds of Glen Magna. The site is one of the most popular in the entire region for nuptials. I suppose that the huge tent and the decorations that makes the location a favorite for local weddings was a special addition for the amateur photographers that morning.
The event and the special surroundings also made a wonderful setting for a “Smart, Green and Working” photo opportunity in front of the famous Derby Summer House that is one of the features of the property. This wonderful example of early American architecture is a National Register property and clearly most photogenic. The leadership of the Danvers Historical Society gathered a large contingent of their board and other society members who were joined by our Safari participants and with everyone holding signs, one of the signatures historic resources in the entire county was highlighted as a resource worthy of preservation efforts. Essex Heritage in indebted to the Danvers group for their special partnership with us, and their efforts on this unusually busy Saturday in Late May is much appreciated. We trust that the Safari participants all had as a special day as the wedding party that gathered later in the day for their personal celebration.
St. John’s Prep Graduation and Golden Eagle Reunion
On a day that started cloudy and later on turned out to be mostly fair with a touch of humidity, slightly over 300 young men graduated from St. John’s Prep on Sunday. The graduation as in other years went off right on schedule and the student and faculty speakers were articulate and passionate in their presentations. The faculty speaker was Michael Leonard, and even though he was no relation to me, he did the family name proud with his remarks to the graduates. A number of awards were provided to a wide range of graduates and as usual there were a number of superstars that seemed to capture a large percentage of the primary awards.
Prior to the graduation services a breakfast was offered in the Milano Dinning Hall on campus to the Prep class of 1960 where golden Diplomas were provided to about fifty former Prep students who celebrated their fiftieth anniversary of their graduation from the Prep. In addition to the Class of 1960, there were also several former graduates who had previously celebrated their golden anniversary and were in attendance to see a few more graduates join the ranks as Golden Eagles. I enjoyed breakfast with a former classmate of mine from the class of 1954, Roland Morency from Salem, and Jim Mc Cann and Paul Hennessy from the class of 1952. . Paul and I spent several years together on the Board of Trustees at the Prep and are still connected to the school today as we co-chair a committee that is developing programs to offer planned giving opportunity to alumni of the Prep.
Even though the class of 1960 graduated from the school a half a dozen years after me, I knew many in the class and enjoyed seeing many of them again. John Doyle has long provided insurance services to me as a client and David Akin was until fairly recently the Fire Chief in Yarmouth on Cape Cod where I spend time in the summer. After David retired from the fire service he became a deacon in the Catholic Church we attend in the Town of Yarmouth. He is a leader in programs in that region that support the homeless. George Atkins is an Attorney practicing in the City of Salem, and is the current volunteer President of the Salem Partnership, an organization that I also served as President early in the 1990’s. I also enjoyed speaking with Tom O’Leary who was the Senior Planner at the Registry of Deeds in Salem, and we worked together on many occasions in the early days of the Salem Partnership. Joe Levis from Andover who also served with me on the Board of Trustees at St. John’s was also a member of this class that was celebrated today. All in all the breakfast and graduation celebrations were a most pleasant experiences, and helped prepare me for graduation day 2011 when my grandson Brendan Leonard will become a graduate of the Prep and also join the ranks of the thousands of alumni who serve this region and others parts of the country. .
Trail Openings in Newburyport and Salisbury a Monumental Success
Congratulations to the leadership of the Coastal Trails Coalition and our own Bill Steelman for a monumental success at the Trail Openings on Sunday in the north of this region. Crowds estimated at 4000 to 5000 enjoyed the weather and the wonderful amenities that have been added to that region to improve the quality of life in Newburyport and Salisbury. The Trail openings were a great success and the crowds and the comments from the participants clearly show that the residents of this region want more recreational projects like this one in the future.
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 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

Friday, May 21, 2010

Essex Heritage Annual Meeting, Partnership Grants, New Commissioners, Danvers Town meeting and Regional Trails


Essex Heritage Holds Annual Informational Meeting in Salisbury

Yesterday, Essex Heritage conducted one of its twice annual informational meetings at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury. The meeting, as usual was well attended by both the Essex Heritage Commissioners and members of the general public. The meeting preceded the Heritage Hero presentation held at the same location in Salisbury. The meeting is used to provide an update to the communities we serve and the meetings are moved around the region to insure that more and more residents of this region have an opportunity to learn about the mission of Essex Heritage. The location of this year’s meeting in the northeast corner of the region was most appropriate as during the most recent past a substantial portion of the Commission’s efforts have been devoted to this section of the region. This year’s spring meeting provided an announcement of the 2010 Essex Heritage Partnership Grant winners, the election of several new Commissioners, updates on topical Commission activities, and financial reports. We were welcomed to the Town of Salisbury by Town Manager, Neil J. Harrington a long-term friend of the Commission.

Essex Heritage Partnership Grant program

Essex Heritage is pleased that in 2010 we were able to restore the Partnership Grant program. The 2010 grant commitment is not as high as it has been in the past but in light of difficult economic conditions and the reduced levels of funding we have at our disposal the funding we have offered we believe will be most beneficial to the recipients. Essex Heritage is also pleased to be able to continue it’s tradition of making grant awards to a number of organizations that host our regional visitor centers. This system of satellite visitor centers complements and enhances the work of the larger centers operated by the National Park Service in Salem and the North of Boston Visitors and Convention Bureau in Salisbury. Together they do an excellent job of sharing the region’s nationally significant story with thousands of visitors and area residents alike.

Essex Heritage began the Partnership Grant program in 1997 and the past thirteen years have provided almost 300 grants that total $1.7 million. In turn, these grants to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations in the region we serve have been used to leverage an additional $15 million in matching investments. The recipients of the 2010 Essex Heritage Partnership grants for 2010 by community are:


Town of Danvers

The town will enhance the experiences of those using the emerging 4.3-mile Danvers Rail Trail through the design, fabrication, and installation of interpretive signs that tell the story of the corridor’s transition from railroad to recreational asset.


Cape Ann Museum

Utilizing the skills of preservation carpentry students from the North Bennet Street School the museum will continue the multi-phase restoration of the rare c.1740 barn adjacent to its White-Ellery House (1710), an important First Period house.

Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center

Working in partnership, the Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center and Essex Shipbuilding Museum will document (video) and interpret (tours and video) the entire construction of Tiger, a 54-foot, 49-passenger traditional pinky schooner being built by eleventh generation boat builder Harold Burnham of Essex.


East Parish Meeting House Society

With the goal of sustaining use of the simple, 40’x 45’ wooden structure as community hall the society’s seven trustees will engage an experienced consultant to develop restoration and fundraising plans for the remarkably intact 1838 meeting house formally attended by Haverhill poet John Greenleaf Whittier.


Ipswich Museum

The museum will implement Dig It!, a six-week after school program for middle school students who will learn about the discipline of archaeology by exploring the industries along the Ipswich River through hands-on activities and field trips.


City of Lawrence

Employing an innovative approach to immersing people in history the city will create a “walking cinema tour" of newly installed signs interpreting the horrific collapse of the huge Pemberton Mill in 1860, one of the worst industrial accidents in American history in which 145 workers were killed.


St. Paul’s Church

As part of a comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation program the church will fabricate and install a replica Gothic Revival trefoil window in a highly visible fa├žade of its charming St. Anna's Chapel (1862).


Salem Athenaeum

The Salem Athenaeum will celebrate its bicentennial with a seven-month series of educational and cultural programs focused on the 1629 Endecott Charter, the seminal document establishing the Massachusetts Bay Colony, New England’s first independent colony.


Town of Salisbury

During this initial phase of preservation planning project the town will commission a survey and create base maps documenting boundaries and all significant landscape features (headstones, monuments, walls, paths and trees) in the Old Colonial Burial Ground, the town’s oldest such cemetery.


Friends of Topsfield Trails

A broad spectrum of users will benefit from the continued development of the Topsfield Linear Common, a stone-dust recreational path linking schools, playgrounds, shops in the village center with neighborhoods and the Topsfield Fairgrounds.

Election of Nine New Commissioners

Nine regional leaders were welcomed as new Essex Heritage Commissioners, serving a three year term. They include

Wayne Capolupo, SPS New England, Inc.

Marilyn Carlson, Saugus Historical Commission

Claire Crane, Robert L. Ford K-8 School

William Luster, North Shore Alliance for Economic Development

Heather McMann, Groundwork Lawrence

Andrea Mones, Building Knowledge

Peter Phippen, Eight Towns and the Bay

Audrey Sullivan, Liniom Partners LLP, and President of the Board at Bishop Fenwick HS

Dan Yaeger, New England Museum Association.

Drawn from all corners of the Heritage Area, the nine new Commissioners join the ranks of 150 civic and business leaders who serve as community ambassadors, helping to advance the mission of preserving and promoting the region’s heritage resources.

Danvers Town Meeting

On Monday evening, at the Holten-Richmond Middle School in Danvers Town Meeting members representing the residents of Danvers gathered to address several important matters including an almost $85 million dollar municipal budget, and thirty-five warrant articles. The night was a long one as well it should be for such important deliberations. I serve on the Town’s Finance Committee and from the first week of April through the early days of May we held eight public hearings to address the financial budget for the Town and the extensive list of warrant articles presented and made formal recommendations after questioning members of the Town leadership team that had prepared the presentations. The work of the Finance Committee is extensive and the nine members of the Committee spend a substantial amount of time each spring as the budget is deliberated and adjustment if needed are offered. It is those recommendations that the Town meeting body acted upon on Monday evening. I am pleased to note that there were no substantial changes to the financial recommendations as presented

The body approved a .three quarters of one percent increase in a local option tax on meals that will potentially raise about $700,000 annually for the Town and will help to balance the Town’s budget. This local option meals tax is not a tax assessed only on Danvers food establishments as most of the neighboring communities adjacent to Danvers have already adopted this local option tax. Several other large appropriations were also made during the evening, including a $20.6 million improvement to the Town’s water filtration and purification plant. During the evening there were a couple of attempts made by conservative members of the Town Meeting body to reduce education spending on the premise that now is the time to cut back and to have the Town live within its means without adding the local option tax and any other tax assessments in the future. All of those attempts were defeated at this meeting but the tone may have been set for future budgets as some additional reductions in spending may be called for in the future,

Regional Rail Trails

If you have some time and are looking for a fun experience, don’t forget the grand opening celebration for the opening of the Newburyport and Salisbury Rail Trails this Sunday. The Coastal Trails Coalition has planned a wonderful day of fun and entertainment, and it is all free. The grand opening ceremonies are planned for 1:00 and the festivities in both communities run from noon until 4:00. Take you bike and head for Newburyport for food, art, music, activities and celebration. For more detailed information go to the Coastal Trails web site at www.coastaltrails,org or the Essex Heritage web site at You will be glad that you made this event part of your Sunday plans.

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 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

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Public Awareness Campaign, NBCVB Victory, Annual Meeting, ENHC Web Site Update, and Local Community Effort


Smart, Green and Working Campaign

In the last couple of postings to the Essex happenings BLOG, I have devoted a fair amount of space to the public awareness campaign that Essex Heritage has undertaken to help bring attention to a current need. I certainly do not want to be guilty of providing too much emphasis on any one Essex Heritage issue in this space, but since this campaign is so critical and of such short duration I thought that I would add one more thought to this effort. In the last couple of days we have electronically sent information to our many partners and friends in this region asking for their cooperation and support to help with this campaign. This update offered today is provided in the event that one of our friends in the region did not receive our recent call to action. Please review the options that are presented below and consider how you might help Essex Heritage NOW.

Let's Send a Message to Congress ... The Essex National Heritage Area is important!

We are asking partners and friends to help ensure that the Essex National Heritage Area is here for you next year, and the years to follow. Join with us in sending a message to Congress that now is not the time to cut back on programs that not only save America's heritage but save America's jobs!

Take Action. Become an advocate to protect, enhance, and enjoy your Heritage Area in one or more of the following forms:

Action Option 1: TAKE A PICTURE! Go to your favorite Heritage Area location and take a picture of you (or a group!!) holding up a sign of choice. Email your photo to Emily Levin at by May 30. Photos will be uploaded into a digital picture frame and sent to your U.S. Representatives! For a series of downloadable sign to choose from, contact Emily Levin at .

Action Option 2: WRITE A LETTER!

Write a letter that describes how Essex Heritage has impacted you, your organization or your community! Has Essex Heritage provided your organization or community with a grant; provided training; helped build new audience or members; offered advice; brought media attention to your organization or shared marketing opportunities? Now is the time to tell someone! All of the letters will be compiled, bound and sent to every U.S. Representative from this great state. Email your letter to by May 30. If any of you want to view a sample letter please contact Mary Williamson at the address shown above. .

Action Option 3: SPREAD THE WORD!

Spread the word and forward this e-mail to friends, and follow our campaign progress on facebook. The more people who know the facts about the impact of preservation the better!

Congratulations to the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau

We have learned over the weekend that the leadership of the North of Boston Convention and Visitor Bureau has been successful in convincing our local elected officials on Beacon Hill of the importance of reopening the Maria Miles Visitor Center on Route 95 in Salisbury. This effort to see this important resource reopen has been broad based and regionally inspired, but the vast majority of the work to accomplish this important task was done by the leadership of NBCVB. Current President Bill Piercey of Chase and Lunt Insurance Co. in Newburyport and Julie McConchie, the Executive Director of NBCVB are to be congratulated for both their perseverance and their success in gaining the needed support to assure the reopening. It is expected that the Visitor Center may be at least partially open again by this Memorial Day to welcome visitors from the north to our region. The Salisbury center that is a part of the regional network of Visitor Centers maintained by Essex Heritage is a critical piece of the chain of information providers to visitors to this region. In addition, the timing could not be better as the summer tourist season swings into full gear starting at the end of the May with the Memorial Day holiday.

Essex Heritage to Conduct Annual Meeting on May 20, 2010

Somewhat lost in the excitement of the third annual Heritage Hero Awards dinner this Thursday evening in Salisbury, is the scheduled annual meeting of Essex Heritage on the same day at the same location. Earlier that afternoon at 4:00 pm at the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, Essex Heritage will conduct one of its two meetings that are open to the general public. The meeting agenda for this event includes the announcement of this year's Essex Heritage Partnership Grant recipients, the election of several new Commissioners, and updates by Executive Director Annie C. Harris, President Kevin Tierney of Saugus Bank, Treasurer John Meserve of Merrimac Savings Bank and other Commission staff. Information on some of the current active Essex Heritage projects will be presented

Town of Ipswich to Preserve 250 Acres

I recently read that 250 acres of Maplecroft farm along Route 133 in Ipswich have been permanently protected by the Raymond Family who own the farm through an agreement with the Trust for Public Land. The acquisition of the land was the result of a cooperative arrangement with to Town of Ipswich, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and private funds raised through a local campaign that provided $5.1 million for the land acquisition. This is a valuable preservation effort by a community that truly values preservation and should be applauded. The protected apace will allow public access to the farm along a trail maintained by the Essex County Trail Association. Surface water, salt marsh and drinking water along with recreation facilities at Raymond Fields will also be protected into the future. This acquisition of this important piece of land will go a long way to continue the efforts of that Town of Ipswich to protect its and the region’s heritage.

Updated Essex Heritage Web Site

Essex Heritage uses many avenues to provide communication to this region. We provide access through many electronic methods, including an Electronic Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and this BLOG, but clearly one of the most important vehicles we use is the Essex Heritage web site. The site is constantly being updated and in the just recent past the site has been revamped to make the access and use of the site much more efficient. Take a look at the web site at There is much information to be found on the site, and it is a wonderful way to keep in touch with the work being done by Essex Heritage to expand our mission.

New Playground to be Built in Salem

I know that the building of a new playground in one of the communities in this region doesn’t normally warrant a mention in this regional report, but when it happens where I grew up, it is worth a mention. A concerned group of residents of the Salem Common area have raised over $40,000 in private funds that have been matched by a $50,000 commitment from the City to construct a new playground that will meet safety standards and be accessible to children with disabilities. The work to construct the new playground will be undertaken by volunteers in Salem next weekend, and we congratulate the group and wish them well as they complete the assembly stage of the project. My admiration for the group of volunteers is enhanced by the fact that in my youth that was where late in the 1940’s and early 1950’s, I first learned to work together with others, but more importantly, this was the site where my dad and mom, Tom and Frances Leonard served for many years as the volunteer leaders of the playground association of volunteers that preceded the present group who have accomplished so much in 2010.

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 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

Friday, May 14, 2010

Heritage Area's Campaign, Regionalism Efforts, Preservation Awards, Salem Rotary Scholarships


Essex Heritage “SMART, GREEN AND WORKING” Campaign Taking Shape

Over the next several weeks, Essex Heritage will be developing a local position to support a national campaign by the Alliance of National Heritage Area’s to raise awareness of the value of Essex Heritage to this region. The tag line, “Smart Green and Working” will be used extensively to bring attention to the work of Essex Heritage and its mission to promote and preserve the historic, cultural and natural resources of this region. The national campaign will include a rally and a press conference in the Nation’s Capital on June 15th where the value of the 49 Heritage Areas’s covering 32 states in this country will be outlined. At the local level, Essex Heritage will soon be sending an appeal to our many participating partners in this region asking for their support and endorsement. The appeal will seek letters of support from participating partners in the region that will point out the value of this regional effort that preserves the regions heritage, enhances economic opportunities and assists in the creation of jobs connected to tourism and preservation efforts in the Essex County region. In addition to the written support we will also be seeking photographs of the wonderful resources in this region with signage that will indicate support of Essex Heritage as we work collectively with our partners to enhance the preservation of the assets so important to this area. Electronic signage links for the campaign will accompany the material we sent out to our partners, so that they will be readily available for the photographs. It will be our intention to send these letters and photographs that will endorse our work to our elected officials who represent us in Washington DC, to point out how important it is that continued funding for these efforts is made available. You may also see representatives of Essex Heritage at regional events over the next several weeks where we will gather supporters for a photo in front of regional treasures with signs outlining our “tag line” supporting this effort. We are particularly indebted to one of our most enthusiastic Trustees, Rich Yagjian of Hunts Photo and Video in Melrose for the technical support that “Hunt’s” are providing in this campaign. If you are one of our committed partners or one of our Trustees or Commissioners please look for material that will be sent to you in the next several days that will outline the plans for this effort. We value the support that we have received over the last decade and hope that our partners will now rally to help bring attention to the work being accomplished in this region.

Patrick/Murray Administration Continues Focus on Regional Efforts

Since the earliest days of Essex Heritage’s existence we have been a strong and vocal advocate for regional participation. The concept that the Commission was based on from the outset was that there was certainly greater strength and a higher chance of success if this region worked collectively together, rather than trying to accomplish tasks individually. Over the years we have organized several collaborative efforts that have brought communities and regional partners together for the good of the region. We will continue to be an advocate for this kind of participation and will do all in our power to continue to be a regional coalescing force whenever opportunities are presented where our influence can be helpful. Our recent work on the Border to Boston Rail Trail, Essex Heritage Scenic Byway and the educational initiatives unified under the LINC’s banner plus our signature event, Trails and Sails are wonderful examples of what can be accomplished when disparate communities and partners come together to accomplish a regional project that benefits many.

In light of the Essex Heritage stance on these issues, it was most positive to read of the recent report that was issued by the Patrick/Murray Administration’s Regional Advisory Commission that is chaired by Lt. Governor Timothy Murray that calls for even more regional participation in the future. The Patrick/Murray Administration has made regionalization a strong priority of theirs since taking office. The Lt. Governor as a former big city Mayor sees both sides of the regionalization issue, and can see why local communities want to preserve their local “hometown” image, but can readily see the benefits of putting those thoughts aside in favor of developing regional initiatives. The report that was issued late last month by Lt, Governor Murray on behalf of the State’s leadership team calls for putting aside local parochial interests in favor of building regional partnerships that will benefit communities with common issues when it comes to saving money or performing more efficiently. . The Commission headed by the Lt. Governor is planning a series of regional hearings as 2010 progresses where these issues can be explored and a strategy developed to take even greater advantage of regional participation. There are obviously hurdles that will have to be cleared as municipal unions will likely resist change as local jobs might be impacted, but hopefully the leadership of these organizations can be shown the long- term benefit to the community where they live and to the region in general. Essex Heritage remains one of the only organizations that has a wide regional focus in the area north of Boston, stretching from Saugus and Lynnfield in the south to Methuen and Merrimack in the north and stands ready to assist in what ever forum is contemplated to study these important regional issues.

Essex Heritage Associates Receive Important Preservation Award

Congratulations to four members of the Essex Heritage “family’ who received well deserved awards at the 25th annual Profiles in Preservation Awards at a recent ceremony in Boston. The recipients who were all most deserving included our Executive Director, Annie C. Harris, ENHC Trustee Paul McGinley a preservation architect from Ipswich, and Commissioners Brona Simon the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Historical Commission and Martin Krugman of the Schooner Adventure in Gloucester. The awards were presented in memory of the late US Senator Paul Tsongas of Lowell. We are most proud of their recognition and applaud the recipient’s commitment to the preservation effort in this region and beyond.

Salem Rotary Scholarship Committee Meets

I feel most privileged to have had a recent opportunity to join with a dozen of my associates from the Salem Rotary Club to interview and then select a number of young men and women who are finishing their senior year at area high schools for scholarship awards. The young people we interviewed recently are all residents of Salem but attend several area schools including Salem High School, Salem Academy, Bishop Fenwick High School, and St, John’s Preparatory School... The experience was a most positive one, as it provides me the opportunity to meet some of the future leaders of this region. All of the recipients of the Salem Rotary scholarships that will be announced at a later date were all most positive young people with a positive outlook on life in general and how their efforts will impact the region in the future. It was most pleasant to spend a recent afternoon meeting with them, sharing their hopes and aspirations for the future with my fellow Salem Rotarians.

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 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

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Trails and Sails Sponsorship, LINC's Extended, NSMC Cancer Walk Scheduled, Rotary Scholarships, Route 128 Work Begins, Mass Audubon Retirement


Trail and Sails Sponsorship Assured

A couple a days ago, I noted a number of corporate contributions that had been recently received at Essex Heritage and offered my personal thanks to the many businesses that continue to offer support to this effort. Included in that list of businesses was TD Bank and today, I want to make special notice of the importance of their contribution. Once again that large national banking institution has demonstrated its support of this region by once again agreeing to take the lead as the Presenting Sponsor at Essex Heritage’s signature event, Trails and Sails. For the last decade, Essex Heritage has worked with dozens of local partners to present a free weekend of site visits, walks, sails etc in the fall of each year that allows residents of this region a chance to sample all that is special in this region. In 2010 the event has been expanded to include two weekends at the end of September, and the sponsorship contribution that TD Bank has once again agreed to provide is a big reason why the event will once again be successful. I realize that it is only mid May and at this time September’s Trails and Sails events are months away, but planning for these important weekends is already underway, and without the commitment of TD Bank none of this would be possible. The weekends of the events this year are on September 17-19 and 24-26 and information on the ongoing planning can be found at Visit the site from time to time to get current information and it is never too early for you to begin your own personal weekend planning process.

Essex Heritage Educational Program, LINC’s Extended

The Essex LINC’s educational grant that Essex Heritage helps to manage has been extended to now include the 2010-2011 school year. This federally funded education grant helps elementary school teachers in the 34 communities in Essex County bring primary source material and hands on learning experiences into classrooms all over the region. This wonderful regional program that was begun in 2007 has provided support to over one hundred teachers in this region and has offered digitized local papers and photographs that allow local students to learn more about their own individual communities and historic sites. If any teachers in the region want to learn more about this program information can be found on the Essex Heritage web site at www.essexheritage,org.

North Shore Medical Center Cancer Walk Celebrates an Anniversary

It is never too early to remind you of an event that has become one of the premier fundraising and social events of the year. This year on Fathers Day, June 20, 2010 the North Shore Medical Center and Mass General/North Shore Cancer Center will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of that event. The event that was begun under the leadership of a dear friend of mine Chris McCann and has over the years, become a wonderful event that benefits a cause that touches all of us in one way or another. Over the years, I have missed a couple of the walks but not many. For many years when I was at Salem Five I helped organize the effort at the Bank and was privileged to have served as the volunteer chairman of the event for the hospital for two years in the formative years of the walk. The funds that have been raised by this premier regional event have done so much good in the fight against this dreaded disease, and now more than ever I want to be counted as a supporter of this effort. The organizers of the event this year have added a “run” component to the event in addition to the traditional walk and once again the event will begin and end at the Salem Willows Park at 9:00 am. Hopefully this new element of the event will bring more attention to the event. For additional information or to sign up as either a walker, runner or as a volunteer, visit or call the toll free WALK line at 866 296 6900. You will be glad that you helped out, and the money that you help raise is so important to the fight to fight cancer.

Salem Rotary Club Scholarship Effort

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, I will be participating as a member of the Salem Rotary Club Scholarship Committee as we conduct nearly two dozen interviews with Salem youngsters. This is the third time during my association with the Salem Rotary club that I have participated in this experience, and once had the privilege of chairing the Committee. The Salem Rotary club has had a long history of providing funds to Salem residents who are finishing their high school careers and are planning to head off to a College or University in the near future. To qualify for an award a student must reside in Salem, but this year applicants represented Salem High School, the Salem Academy Charter School, St John’s Preparatory School and Bishop Fenwick High School. The funds provided by the Rotary are raised during the course of the year at many activities are also supplemented by the earnings from a foundation that has been managed by the Rotary for many years. That day two special awards will be made in the names of “Salty’ Smith and “Buck” Alexander two long time deceased Salem Rotarians that have long been linked to the scholarship effort. It is a pleasure to participate in this effort, as clearly providing education based funds to young men and woman who will in the future be the leaders of this region is most important to both the students and the region.

Preparations to Start Work on Route 128 Exit Ramps “Kicks Off”

After many years of promises and anticipation, work on the two exits of Route 128 that impact Beverly and Danvers in the heart of the region began last week. The $20 million dollar project will certainly cause some disruptions over the next three years as work to improve access and egress on the exits from Route 128 at Route 35 and at Route 62 begins in earnest. The preliminary work that began last week included some brush clearing and other prep site work to prepare the sites for some more serious work in the months ahead. I suspect that as someone who lives in this part of the region and uses Route 128 and those two exits with some regularity that our travel plans may take a little more time in the future, but the long-term safety improvements that will be made to the roads will trump the short term inconveniences.

Best Wishes to the Retiring Director of Mass Audubon

We have recently received notification at Essex Heritage that a long-time advocate for the preservation and protection of the natural and cultural resources of this region is retiring from her post with Mass Audubon. We wish all the best to Ms Kathy Leahy, Director of Mass Audubon on her retirement on May 14, 2010. Her work in this region, particularly as it pertains to the Great Marsh Coalition that we worked on together has been extraordinary and we wish her all the best as she begins another important phase of her life. Best wishes, Kathy and good luck in the future.

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 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

Friday, May 7, 2010

Heritage Hero Dinner Tickets, Highway Signage, Heritage Area Day of Awareness, Danvers Bi-Peds, Right to Farm, Mother's Day Wishes


Essex Heritage Hero Dinner Reminder

Each year one of the premier events offered by Essex Heritage is its Heritage Hero event. In this space previously, I have provided substantial information about the event and the honorees, so I will not spent a lot of time again on a recap, but I am going to remind you the dinner is coming up on May 20, 2010. The three honorees are all most worthy recipients; the venue on the Beach in Salisbury will be spectacular on a late May evening and now is the time to order your tickets for the event. The beneficiary of the evening’s proceeds is the entire region that is served by Essex Heritage, as the revenues raised all go back into the many programs that Essex Heritage offers throughout the year across the region. The price of the evening when one considers the location and the honorees is inexpensive and $100.00 spent will be put to such a good use that Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury will be the place to be on May 20, 2010. Don’t be left out. Call Essex Heritage today at 978 740 0444 or visit the web site at to make your plans to be in attendance that evening.

Essex Heritage Highway and informational Signs

One of our staff members recently returned from a trip to the western part of this country and reminded me how fortunate we are here in this region to have a series of Highway and informational signs to help direct visitors around this region. The “Brown Signs” that appeared in this region almost a decade ago were a godsend for us then and now. In the early days of Essex Heritage those signs were the most distinguishing feature of our existence. Before we had a regular allocation of funding to help in the development of the many and varied programs developed by Essex Heritage now in place across the region, the funds we received and the support offered by the Massachusetts Highway folks to get the signs in place, were the most visible manifestation then of our existence. The funds to develop the signs and to get them installed along Essex County highways were provided by the Congressman who represented the region at that time. The signage then and now provided information on where information for regional travelers could be obtained at our various associated visitor centers across the region. Some of those centers were managed by our federal partner, the National Park Service, and others were offered by state entities or individual communities, but in all cases the centers provided support to the crowds that were now regularly visiting this region. Additional signs were erected on some of the most extraordinary sites in the region, and that established partnerships for Essex Heritage with all of the best know historic locations in the area. The second phase of the Essex Heritage signage program that was designed to provide even more detailed directions and instructions unfortunately never materialized due to funding constraints, but the preliminary design plans still exist and maybe as the economic cycle changes again as it certainly will at some time in the future that secondary signage program can be revisited. Certainly good signage is a wonderful asset to any region and Essex Heritage is very pleased that we have our “Brown” highway and informational signs to keep visitors moving in the right direction.

National Day of Awareness and Rally in Washington for Heritage Areas

A couple of postings ago in late April, I provided information of both a national and local effort to bring a level of awareness relative to the importance of National Heritage Area to both this region and the country. In that update, we noted that a rally was being planned in Washington DC where Heritage Area officials from across the country would gather to hold a press conference and make pertinent announcements about the National Heritage Area Program. The date for that Rally has now been set for June 15, 2010. Plans are now being developed locally at Essex Heritage to have a Trustee and staff presence at that event that will include the participation of many National Elected Officials and the leadership of the Alliance of National Heritage Area. Essex Heritage has agreed to develop plans for a local rally and press conference in this region as a follow up to the national event on June 15, 2010. The date and location of that event has not yet been set, but this is the first notice to our friends, associates and partners that such an event will be held, and to ask all of you to look for invitations to that event soon. The broad based participation in this planned event of all of our valued partners and local elected officials will be critical to the success of the event. In order to insure media coverage of the event broad based participation will be needed to insure that the event receives the coverage we are anticipating. Awareness of the plans to reduce funding for Heritage Areas and other preservation based organizations across the country needs to find its way into the national conscience and this effort will go a long way towards making that a reality.

Danvers Bi-Peds Continues to Provide Timely Information

The monthly meeting of this Danvers Rail Trail support group will be holding a most informative monthly meeting next week on May 13, 2010. The meeting that is held in the Carriage House at Endicott Park this month at 7:00 pm will feature an update on accomplishments and goals of that group plus a presentation on how the Salisbury Trail Group accomplished the creation and opening of the Trail in that community. The Town of Salisbury has generated a great deal of local support for that effort, and has had local officials like Selectman Jerry Klima and Town Manager Neil Harrington on board from the start of the process. .There will also be an update on the work of the Iron Horse Preservation Society that has removed the rails and ties on the roadbeds in Danvers. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the work going on in Danvers relative to rail trail development. All are welcome to attend.

Danvers Finance Committee and the Right to Farm Warrant Article

After a number of meeting the Danvers Finance Committee, that I serve on as a member held its final meetings for this budget year earlier this week. In addition to examining, evaluating and adjusting a tight FY11 budget for the Town several interesting warrant articles were discussed. If the Town Meeting follows the Fin Com recommendation a new by-law relative to the Right to Farm will take effect that will help preserve important open space in the Town. Essex Heritage has always been a champion of the farmer in the region and the changes offered in this proposed by-law that will create a Right to Farm declaration, along with a notification process to Real Estate Buyers, a method to resolve potential disputes will all benefit open space considerations. The preservation of the remaining open space in the Town of Danvers and in other communities in this region is important to Essex Heritage, as our mission statement notes that we stand for the preservation, protection and promotion of the historic, natural and cultural resources of this region, and this proposed by-law change certainly helps with the preservation of important natural resources.

Mother’s Day 2010

Since this is the last post to this BLOG before Mother’s Day, let me remind all of you to take a moment this coming Sunday to wish your favorite Mother a happy day. Both my mother and my wife’s mother have long ago passed on to the next world, and no matter how many times we thanked them for what they did for us, while they were alive it was not nearly enough. So reach out often and say thanks whenever you can.

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 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

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Name Change for Ipswich Museum. Essex Heritage Examines Revnue Opportunities, Water Woes in Essex County, and Golf Event in Boxford


Ipswich Historical Society Changes Name

Late last week, Essex Heritage received notification that the Ipswich Historical Society has decided to officially change its name effective on May 8, 2010 to the Ipswich Museum. The process by which they made this decision seemed well thought out and it would appear that their decision is a good one. Their analysis looked at the history of that organization that was first put in place in 1888 over 120 years ago and clearly identified all that had changed in that intervening time. As part of their study they looked at the changing needs of the public and recounted all of the other Ipswich organizations that were no longer relevant and had passed from the scene. In an attempt to remain relevant in 2010 and beyond the Ipswich group has updated both its name and its image. The study that was accomplished was not treated lightly and conversations with the members of the board went on for over one year before that change was put in place. They noted in their release that they were particularly indebted to talented Ipswich designer, Martin Sorger who designed the material that defines the new entity.

They believe that the new name as the Ipswich Museum defines them as a professional organization offering programs for all ages, featuring fascinating collections of fine and decorative art and well-preserved historic structures. Most of all they want to be certain that everyone on the North Shore and beyond these borders knows that Ipswich Museum welcomes and needs old and new members to help keep this newly named entity vital and alive. To help celebrate the name change the Ipswich Museum having a party on May 8, 2010 from 11:30 in the morning until late that afternoon at the Museum. At the end of the day at 5:00 pm at the Ipswich Town Hall on Green Street a benefit performance of “A Celebration of the Sea” will be held and tickets for that event and additional information about the rest of the festivities that day can be obtained by calling 978 356-2811. All of us at Essex Heritage wish the new Ipswich Museum well in their celebration and for having the courage to make a name change that brings them into the present century.

Essex Heritage Currently Examining Revenue Producing Opportunities

Several weeks ago in this space, we noted that the Essex Heritage Board of Trustees had approved a Long Range Plan for the organization that included finding ways to diversify core funding sources. This process is critical to achieve long term sustainability for the organization by leveraging time, money, staff, board and friends to bring more resources into the Area. In the last several weeks we as senior staff have been examining a number of areas to learn of opportunities to achieve this goal. We are examining the potential of developing travel programs to make this region even more accessible to residents and visitors, revisiting membership opportunities and exploring how the wonderful resources of this region particularly the recently developed Essex Heritage Scenic Byway can be used to develop additional revenues. This is a long term process and many scenarios are being pursued simultaneously.

Northeast Harvest Newsletter Available Now

Essex Heritage in conjunction with several other agricultural based organizations in the region and the Commonwealth produce a monthly newsletter on regional agricultural matters. The most recent issue covers a number of issues including the recently held Ag Day at the Topsfield Fair and how successful that day was for all of the participants. The current edition also notes how fast Massachusetts agricultural interests are growing from a financial perspective. Even in a down economy, many Massachusetts fames are weathering the downturn very well, and in fact some farms are expanding operations. The current issue identifies two farmers in Middlesex and Essex Counties, and highlights the work of Common View Farm in Groton and K and m Farm in North Andover. The features product this month is eggs, a recipe for an herb Omelet is provided. The newsletter is produced each month and anyone who wishes to be added to the mailing list can contact Mary Williamson, the editor at to be added to the list.

Water Woes Having an Impact on Essex County

The current rupture in a major water distribution pipe at the MWRA in Weston has several Essex County communities scrambling to make alternative water distribution plans. Marblehead, Swampscott, Lynnfield and Saugus were still under a mandate to boil water out of the faucets in homes and businesses as of late yesterday. Work seems to be progressing with the required repairs to put the water systems in those and other MWRA communities back to normal in the very near term. Let’s hope that by the time we post again to this site the problems are corrected and the extra unusual steps to make water safe are eliminated.

Water woes seem to be pressing on this country up and down the east coast; with this water issue here in Massachusetts and the major oil spill that is threatening the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi and even Florida. I heard one report that noted that if the ruptured well off the Louisiana coast is not contained soon, the spreading oil spill that was recently described to be as big as the Island of Jamaica could find its way around the Florida Keys, get caught up in the Gulf Stream and even possibly have an impact the upper Atlantic coast.

Finish Today’s Posting with a Personal Note

One of the organizations that I serve as a volunteer is the Parish Council at St. Richard’s Church in Danvers. For several years the parish has run a golf tournament each spring to raise funds for a scholarship program. The program has been in place for many years and dozens of Monsignor Cusack/John Costello scholarships have been provided to young men and woman from this Danvers parish who want to continue their education at either Catholic High Schools or Colleges. The tournament this year as always will be held at the Far Corners Golf Course in Boxford on June 7, 2010 at 8:00 am. In recent years, attendance has been slipping and as the number of participants gets smaller so do that scholarship opportunities that can be offered, and we certainly want to reverse that trend. The event is unique as the entry fee for participation is one of the very best values anywhere in this region. The cost of participation, that is underwritten by the golf course management, as the owner is also a parishioner of St Richard’s Church is only $80.00 per player. The cost of participation includes the round of golf, a cart and a lunch at the parish hall on Forrest Street in Danvers immediately after the event. There are also prizes awarded at the lunch and raffles that will be available. Tee sponsorships are also available for only $100.00. Information and registration forms for this most moderately priced charity event can be obtained by contacting Paul or Patty Chisholm at 978 777 0999. So that we can make the proper plans, registration is urged by May 24, 2010. . I will be there that morning, and I hope to see you there as well. The price is right, the golf is fun, the cause is great and the day most collegial.

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 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