Friday, September 10, 2010

Anniversity of 9/11, Trails and Sails, Essex Heritage Scenic Byway, and History Installment


Anniversary of 9/11

Let’s hope that cooler and more measured thinking will prevail this Saturday on the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center, and the church and its pastor in northern. Florida comes to their senses. There is certainly nothing to be gained from the plans that have been announced to burn hundreds of holy books as an act of retribution for the senseless destruction and death that rained down nearly a decade ago in New York City. The United States military and dozens of high ranging religious leaders from around the world have appealed to the Florida church to reconsider their planned action. The destruction of the symbol of the Muslims is just another senseless act will do nothing but inflame an already tense situation that exists between Christians and Muslims in this country. This country was founded on the principal of religious freedoms for all, and nothing positive can come out of the planned actions in Florida... We must never forget the sacrifices of the hundreds of innocent victims who died without warning in the attacks on September11th, but retribution in the form planned in Florida is certainly not the way to commemorate this national tragedy.

Essex Heritage Signature Event…. Trails and Sails is Now Just Days Away

If the early activity we view is any barometer, we certainly expect that the 2010 edition of Trails and Sails: A Weekend of Walks and Water will be the best and most well attended series of events in the long history of this event. We recognize that any event that is planned primarily in the outdoors is always predicated to some degree on the vagaries of New England weather. We have just experienced how weather can impact an event when the recent hurricane caused a radical change in planning for the first ever commercial Friendship Sail. That event was still successful but the schedule had to be changed when it appeared that the storm would disrupt or even cancel the event. The sail schedule was altered by many, who were unable to change their personal schedules and we are keeping our fingers crossed that another weather event will not impact the Trails and Sails Weekends.

This upcoming week will see much of the anticipated press and advertizing schedule making its appearances in local publications, and that activity we expect will drive even more local residents to action. To date we have seen a substantial increase in web site traffic to begin the planning process for these two free weekends of events and the general level of activity is up 11 % over the same period one year ago. The web site address where information can be obtained and schedules planned is Just click on events, and there is even a location on the site where you can make a donation to help us keep these events FREE in the future. For a contribution of only $20 you can receive a Trails and Sails tee shirt. To date we have nearly 2000 residents already registered and this year alone there have been 250 new applicants. Brochures that are most comprehensive and allow one to complete a personal plan can be found at the affiliated Essex Heritage Visitor Centers across the region and at the branch locations of our two sponsoring banks, TD Bank and Eastern Bank. The weekends filled with activities are just around the corner on September 17-19 and September 24-26. This is clearly the time to act, and plan your weekend of activity. You will certainly be glad that you participated.

Essex Heritage Scenic Byway

The Essex Heritage Scenic Byway that winds it way down the coast from Newburyport in the north to Lynn in the south is certainly one of the most inclusive initiatives undertaken by Essex Heritage. The participants include thirteen communities in the region that all share the wonderful resource of the Atlantic coastline. The eighty five mile byway, just a short ten miles from Boston, heading north winds through Lynn, Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Manchester By the Sea, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Essex, Gloucester, Rockport and ends up in Newburyport. Essex Heritage has commissioned the creation of a Corridor Management Plan and that planning document will be a part of the agenda’s at a corridor management team meeting later this month, and at a series of community listening sessions later this fall. At those sessions in the thirteen communities involved in the process input from the public about their expectations for the Byway will be solicited.

During this past week, Bill Steelman who is managing this effort for Essex Heritage spent some of his most valuable time attending a conference in the nation’s capital. The session aptly called, Preserving Historic Roads will provide Bill with the opportunity to network with other Byway managers, and hopefully share best practices with other professionals who have similar pursuits. Hopefully, Bill will also be able to gather current information on grant opportunities and other financial initiatives that can help Essex Heritage advance this important regional project in the future. This project is a wonderful opportunity for Essex Heritage to use its collaborative skills to help organize thirteen diverse but connected communities to advance a regional initiative. This is the kind of project that defines what Essex Heritage is all about and what it accomplishes so efficiently when working collectively with others.

Essex Heritage History, Part Six (continued)

It became clear that the space we were sharing with the Salem Partnership and the apartment space just above that office would not be enough space for the ENHC. Staff had been added during the time that the Commission shared the facility on Central Street, and it was clear that additional space was needed. Susan Mason had joined the Commission as the chief financial officer. Space was found in a second floor office unit at 140 Washington Street, Salem, and in 2001 the Commission moved its operation to that location. The staff had begun to grow as more and more regional partnerships were being established and more and more programs were being developed.

One of the first programs developed was the coalition of Visitor Centers around the region. A loose partnership arrangement allows Essex Heritage to provide funding to community centers to help them as they built Regional programs to welcome visitors. Each year for many years the Commission has provided financial support to Visitor Centers in Lynn, Peabody, Ipswich, and Newburyport. Lawrence and Salisbury. Those centers have combined with the National Park Service Centers in Salem and Saugus to be a collaborative series of welcoming centers that have been a boon to the nearly 1,000,000 visitors who annually come to this region.

One of the most important programs that were established by the ENHC was the Partnership Grant Program. It was determined very early that the quickest and clearest way to establish both awareness and credibility for the Commission and to get some of the important federal funding into the region was to establish a grant program. The Partnership Grant program provides funding to communities and local not for profit organizations that are creating or establishing programs that are helping to advance the mission of the ENHC. The program was a matching program as well, and grants were only provided to organizations and communities that were making matching contributions on their own or with partnering organizations to the designated program. Since the inception of the program in 1999 the Partnership Grant program has had a substantial impact on the region. Over 200 grants have been provided that total $1.8 million. Those grants have generated over $15 million in matching funds and the grants that have been provided in all 34 communities in the region, have certainly improved life in the region. The first chairman of the program was Attorney Malcolm Mac Lean of Swampscott who has devoted a substantial commitment of time for many years to this effort. David Hildt, the former Mayor of Amesbury who still serves the Commission in that role, succeeded attorney Mac Lean.

In the early years an application is created and approximately 50 applications were presented to the Commission for funding. A committee of experts that reviews the applications for creativity and to determine how many partners have been included in the application considers the applications for approval. That group that makes recommendations to fund the applications approved approximately half of the applications that they received each year for funding. For a list of the 200 grants that have been made since the inception of partnership Grant program see the ENHC web site at for detailed information and partners. After a one year hiatus in 2009 due to lack of funding the program in 2010 is now back in place In the most recent year a streamlined program was created to allow for the approval of projects and the distribution of funding with a slightly diminished level of staffing at Essex Heritage.

ENHC History to be continued in the next Essex Happenings BLOG posting

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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