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

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