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

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