Monday, June 28, 2010

Scenic Byway News, City of Salem Purchases Waterfront Lot, Summer Concerts in Amesbury, Peabody Bike Trail, Death in the US Senate


Essex Heritage Scenic Byway Spurs Local Community Activity

Interest and participation in the long-term sustainability of the 85-mile Essex Heritage Scenic Byway continues to grow following a springtime series of local meetings involving 13 Essex County communities. Though a strategic corridor management plan for the entire route will not be finalized until early next year, several groups are already taking steps to address the economic underpinnings that contribute to the region’s quality of life. Some of the communities that are participating in the Scenic Byway project have began to use the process as a catalyst to continue or begin local projects that build off the Scenic Byway program.

In Swampscott the byway discussions have inspired the Humphrey Street Revitalization Committee to start meeting again. The Gloucester Open Space Committee is using the byway existing conditions report on open space to guide revision of their Open Space Plan. Having come together on the byway local advisory group for Newbury and Newburyport, representatives of historic, cultural and natural resources groups are pushing ahead with more coordinated local efforts.

Community-based public meetings in the fall of 2010 will provide additional information about the corridor management plan and generate even wider enthusiasm for providing the best possible visitor experience, while enhancing the quality of life for residents. The Scenic Byway project “kicked off” in June 2009 by Essex Heritage with support from a consulting team led by the Newburyport-based planning firm of Taintor & Associates, the 21-month planning process is funded with grants from the National Scenic Byways Program and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

For more information on the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway please visit our website at


A couple of days ago, the City of Salem announced that they had come to an agreement with Dominion Energy to purchase a 2 acre parcel of waterfront land that will have a long term impact on the City and the region. The City of Salem and its energetic and persuasive Mayor Kimberly Driscioll has coveted this parcel of land for a long time and has been negotiating for its purchase since she took office in 2006. Dominion Energy deserves a great deal of credit for its commitment to the city as the parcel of land was sold to the City for nearly a half a million dollars less than they originally paid for the land. The land been leased from Dominion by the City of Salem and the Ferry that serves the City and brings thousands if visitors from Boston each summer currently operates from that site. Now that the City owns the site and access to the waterfront and the City is assured it is expected that the City will attempt to entice small cruise ships to visit the site and gain access to the many attractions in the city and the region. This acquisition could prove to be a wonderful addition to the resources controlled by the City and will likely be the key to the further development of Salem’s historic waterfront. The site is less than a half-mile from the National Park Service sits, and its splendid attraction the three master replica sailing ship, Friendship. The Derby Street waterfront could soon be a special attraction all by itself and when added to the plethora of other historic attractions in the City, this municipality and the region could become a magnet for area visitors.

Summer Concerts in Amesbury Sponsored by Newburyport Five

The Newburyport Five is one of the most generous community banks in the region. They have supported most every event that Essex Heritage has ever sponsored in the region we both serve and now they have announced that they will be the sponsor of a series of community concerts in Amesbury. The concert series that will begin on July 8th will take pace at the Upper Mill Yard Amphitheatre in Amesbury. The concert series will total three performances and will continue on July 15 and 22. The setting is wonderful and we know that you will enjoy the performances.

City of Peabody Addresses Bike Path Maintenance in Unique Way

Mayor Michael Bonfanii of Peabody recently announced a unique plan to keep the City’s recently competed bike path in the proper shape. Taking a page from programs that are used in many communities to beautify traffic islands and in some cases highways, the Coty of Peabody is calling for sponsors for sections of the new recreational asset in that community. The trail that opened last fall runs from behind the Leahy Clinic building at the North Shore Shopping Center to West Peabody with a couple of intersections where bicyclists must be careful when crossing. Sponsorship can be obtained for sections of the trail, and the sponsors will be expected to keep the trail open from encroachments by cutting back brush at least a couple of times a year, and keeping the area sponsored free of trash and litter by “policing” the area every couple of weeks. Signs that will identify the sponsor will be erected and in that way the sponsors can be recognized for their support. If anyone has an interest in learning more about the costs and obligations that come with the sponsorship can contact the Peabody Recreation Department at 978 536 7131

United States Senator Robert Byrd Passes Away

It was announced on Monday that the oldest serving member of the United States Senate passed away after a brief hospitalization. Senator Robert Byrd had served in the United States Congress since 1952. He was elected to the Congress when I was serving as a sophomore in High School. From experience I can say that is a long time ago. He served over one half a century as a US Senator. We in this region are indebted to Senator Byrd, as in addition to sending millions of dollars to his home state of West Virginia, while he was the chair of the senate Appropriations Committee he was asked by his friend, the late Senator Edward Kennedy to support an appropriation for the building of the replica sailing ship, Friendship. Kennedy provided letters and other material provided by the school children of this region, particularly mementos from students at the Phoenix School in Salem, to help convince Senator Byrd of the worth of this effort. In the end Senator Kennedy prevailed in his request and Senator Byrd’s Committee provided funding, and the Friendship was built. Today the Friendship now proudly acts as a flagship for this entire region. She has recently passed her sea trials and will soon be sailing in this region and up and down the east coast of this country carrying the banners of the National Park Service and the Essex Heritage far and wide. For that and other appropriations to this region that we have at least in part, the now recently departed Senator Robert Byrd to thank for that financial support.

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. Thank You. Tom Leonard

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