Thursday, July 22, 2010

Salem Harbor Walk, Bike Interests Growing, Topsfield Fair Dates, Essex County Communites Faring Well, Afordable Housing news, Cape Cod Baseball

Essex Happenings, Friday, July 23, 2010

The City of Salem Opens the South River Harbor Walk

About a week ago, the City of Salem opened the long awaited Harbor Walk along the South River. Lt Governor Murray and other elected officials from the City were on hand to help celebrate the culmination of the project after many years. The new walkway stretches from the corner of Lafayette Street and New Derby Street to the spot where Congress Street connects with Hawthorne Boulevard. The initial point is in the section of the city that official are now referring to as LoLa, that stands for lower Lafayette Street that is fast becoming a new retail section. The walkway will help connect the downtown to the waterfront and will also help link the Point neighborhood with the rest of the city.

Many years ago, I helped manage the development of Pickering Wharf for Salem Five and a team of private developers and at that time, a public walkway was built around the perimeter of that project. Over the almost four decades since Pickering Wharf was constructed, that walkway has been heavily traveled during the pleasant months of the tear. That walkway connects the city to the National Park Service’s Salem Maritime Historic Site, so the new South River Walkway now allows residents and visitors alike the opportunity with one intersection crossing to walk from just a couple of blocks from the Salem pedestrian mall all the way to the waterfront without the concern of automobile traffic. The new walkway could be a boon to the businesses along that stretch of Salem, and will certainly help pedestrian flow in the City.

Bike Enthusiasts Continue to Make Progress in Essex County

It seems that everywhere we look these days; bike enthusiasts are making great strides. Bike trails are springing up in numerous communities and residents from children to seniors are exercising using bikes. Last Sunday morning, on the way home from church we saw hundreds of bicyclists who were competing through the streets of Danvers in a charity ride named Reid’s Ride.

In Beverly the city is using grant funds to install sixty secure bike racks that will make biking in that Community that much more convenient. The racks that are now being constructed all over the down town are phase two of this project as in phase one racks were installed at libraries and playgrounds. The City of Beverly views this program as a way to bring more visitors to the city and allow them to arrive using alternative methods of transportation.

Topsfield Fair Announces 2010 Dates

It certainly seems strange as we move through one of the hottest July’s on record to be writing about one of the premier fall events that takes place in Essex County. We recently received notification from our good friends at the Topsfield Fair that the Fair can’t be too far away when they send us information on the dates when the Fair will be in operation. Each year the relationship between the Fair and Essex Heritage gets stronger as more and more common projects are being undertaken. Essex Heritage works hand in hand each month with Fair officials in the production of the North East Harvest newsletter.

This year the fair will open on the earliest possible date in October on the first and the Fair will continue through October 11, 2010. Tickets for the fair, advance food purchases, concerts and Senior Citizen Day are now available and more information can be found at

Essex County Communities Continue Survive Without Layoffs

There has been much information in the local papers about all of the cuts that have been made to local aid funding for local communities. This has been a difficult time for many communities in the region, and has been particularly difficult for some of the large cities. The City of Lawrence has been particularly hard hit and even with some state support in the form of a loan to the City, many layoffs have occurred, and there has much substantial debate about the cuts in police and fire as the public safety of that community has been questioned.

However in some of the smaller communities in the region the cuts in local aid seem to have been assimilated without severe difficulties. For the most part, municipal layoffs have been averted due in part to numerous employee union concessions and better budget planning and we can all only hope that will continue. We can all hope that the economy will continue to improve as the year moves on, and that additional state local cuts will be not be needed. Anything-additional coming as it would after all of the steps that have already been taken could be a difficult pill to swallow.

Salem Harbor CDC and Beverly affordable Housing Coalition to Merge

I recently saw a notice that two of the premier non-profit housing agencies that have supported and developed affordable housing in this region are contemplating a merger. In my previous career as a local banker, I spent a considerably amount of my efforts working with Salem Harbor Community Development Corporation as they developed much needed housing in the Point neighborhood in Salem. Over the time that they were a force in real estate in Salem, they had a succession of most capable and conscientious Executive Directors that accomplished a great deal of positive accomplishments. At the present time the Salem Harbor CDC is without an Executive Director and so the potential of a merger with another similar agency in a contiguous community seems to be a good plan. There is still mush more that needs to be accomplished by Affordable Housing advocates in this region and we wish this new merged operation good luck.

Cape Cod League Baseball

As most of you know, I am spending a good portion of the summer at our vacation house on Cape Cod. Now that my wife is retired and I am not in the Essex Heritage office on a full time basis in the summer we are able to enjoy a little bit of semi-retirement. It seems that with Essex Heritage demands and several other regional obligations we head back on the North Shore every ten days or so, and so we are regularly heading over the Sagamore Bridge and the Cape Cod Canal to attend a meeting or tend to some other demand. Those return trips are important, as even in retirement I am anxious to be a participant in the relevant activities of Essex County.

But while we are here we are enjoying golf and an occasional trip to the beach during this very hot July, and one of the most enjoyable activities that we both enjoy is watching the very competitive and talent laden Cape Cod Baseball League. The players in the ten-team league are all college players who are playing in this league waiting for a Major League team to draft them and turn them into professionals. The Major Leagues are loaded with young men who have played in this premier summer league. At the present time, the team that we follow, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox have eighty former players who currently are in a Major League system. In Boston, the Red Sox have Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis Jacoby Ellsbury and Jason Varitek on their rosters that have all played on the Cape.

Last night we attended a game that was a superb example of the way the game is played on the cape. We watched a young man from Texas lose a no hit effort with two outs in the ninth inning. The player who broke up the no hitter ironically was Michael Yastrzemski who graduated from St John’s Prep in Danvers before heading to Vanderbilt. The Yarmouth team only scored two runs on three hits in a game that was completed in one hour and fifty-three minutes. The Major Leagues could take lessons from the Cape League on how the grand old game should be played.

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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