Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Essex Heritage Travel, Senator Berry and the Salem Partnershp, North Shore Alliance Position and Danvers Library Receives a Grant


Essex Heritage Joins with Collette Travel to Offer Tour

Just a couple of weeks before Trails and Sails, Essex Heritage announced that that they had entered into an arrangement to offer travel with Collette Travel. That arrangement will offer a trip to the Northern National Parks in August 2011. The trip will include stops in Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole, and Yellowstone National Park with its primary attraction, Old Faithful and Grand Teton National Park and other optional side excursions. The tour will be offered first to friends of the Heritage Area and Essex Heritage has only just begun to provide information on this trip to our friends. Now on November 3rd a representative of Collette Travel will join us at the National Park Service Visitor Center in Salem at 2 Liberty Street from 6:30 until 8:00 PM to provide an overview of the eight day trip that will include air fare, many meals all offered with the services of a professional guide. Please consider joining us that evening to obtain much needed information if you have an interest in this trip. Please RSVP here if you wish to attend.

Salem Partnership/Senator Fred Berry Presentation

On Friday morning the Salem Partnership Board gathered at the Hawthorne Hotel to hear a report and an update from Massachusetts State Senator Fred Berry. The meeting was generally most positive until the subject of the sales tax roll back was discussed. See more on that issue in the article below. Senator Berry spent the bulk of his presentation recalling the many State funding commitments that have been made to the benefit of the old county seat including a major courthouse improvement and a substantial commitment to build a new parking garage adjacent to the new courthouse. The major recent influx of funds that have found there way to this seaport city, will substantially benefit-planned improvements to a parcel of waterfront land that the city will soon acquire from Dominion Energy. Funding of $3.75 million that will come from a combination of Federal and State funds will allow the city to start planning for upland projects and to complete some immediate improvements to the current temporary pier. The City has plans to build a more permanent pier that will be able to attract tour vessels and other commercial marine interests in the future. There is also a recent commitment of funding that will allow for some much needed dredging in the inner harbor. It was generally agreed that much of this activity would not have been possible without the support of the State delegation led by Senator Berry with the backing of State Representative Keenan and The City leadership. The Senator completed his presentation by taking some questions that focused on the plans for the Legislature in 2011. He and Representative Keenan both were in agreement that the casino/gaming issue would be revisited along with health care reform of both public and private sector. There will likely be an effort to help small business particularly as it pertains to rapidly rising health care premiums.

The meeting ended with two pieces of information that will certainly have an impact on the downtown that is already most active. It is not just Halloween that is drawing folks to the city. It seems that almost every week a new retail store or restaurant is opening for business in the city and that activity is helping to drive the activity levels higher... It was noted at the meeting that as the courthouse facility is completed, there is every indication that the recently renamed Salem State University will continue its interest in some of the surplus space in the old superior court building. The other bit of news that will certainly have an impact on the downtown is that the four decade old pedestrian mall is going to be studied soon to determine how that much maligned and widely discussed retail area can be updated. The public will be invited to participate in that study process.

North Shore Alliance for Economic Development Announces Position

When the leadership of Salem State University and the North Shore Community College advanced the concept of the creation of the North Shore Alliance for Economic Development, Essex Heritage was asked to participate. Since the organization was founded we have participated in many of their initiatives and they have reciprocated with an active endorsement of both the Border to Boston Bikeway and the Essex Heritage Scenic Byway transportation initiatives that we are advancing. The Alliance is a broad based coalition of numerous organizations that are all interested in the well being of this region and there goals certainly meet all of our mission criteria. At a recent meeting, the Alliance took on the thorny issues of Ballot Question 1 and 3 that seek to roll back taxes on the sale of alcoholic beverages and the general state sales tax. The Alliance board at its August meeting discussed these two matters in great detail and then issued a statement of opposition to the rollback as it was determined that the “perfect storm:” of a then existing $2.5 billion structural budget deficit when aligned with the potential for a $2.6 billion cut in sales tax revenue would result in State budget cuts in local aid, education, human services, health care and public safety that could be calamitous to the state and this region. It was pointed out that if the rollbacks called for in state wide ballot questions 1 and 3 were approved it would result in a FY 2011 State budget that would need to be reduced by over $5 billion from the already difficult to manage FY 2010 budget. While we at Essex Heritage cannot take a formal position on this issue, I certainly can indicate that I personally feel very strongly that this is not the time to affect the proposed tax cut. I believe that as the economy returns to more normal levels in the future every effort should be made to establish programs to consolidate services and institute budget, pension and other reforms to allow for the gradual reduction of these tax burdens. From everything that I have recently read, the poling numbers on this issue have the outcome very close and too close to predict. I would encourage all of you to take the time before the election day that is now just a couple of weeks away, to do your own personal research this issue as the outcome of this ballot question may have long term ramifications for many of us in this region.

Danvers Archival Center Receives Unexpected Grant

A couple of days ago, Essex Heritage received a copy of a letter from one of its longest-term partners, The Peabody Institute Library in Danvers. The letter announced some wonderful news for one of the “arms” of the Library, the Archival Center. The center that is managed by the Town Archivist, Richard Trask has been notified that they are the recipients of an unexpected grant in the amount of $25,000 from the Annenberg Foundation of California. The grant that will be paid in two installments over a two-year period is a result of a visit to the Danvers Archival Center by the Annenberg Foundation team who were there to do some research and filming for their “Explore” project. The focus of the visit was the material in the center that pertains to the story of the 1692 Salem witchcraft events. The announcement of the grant is wonderful news for the Library, and is confirmation of the importance of the work accomplished in the center at the library.

The Danvers Archival Center was established in 1970 as part of the Danvers Historical Commission master plan. The purpose of the center is to collect and place in one central location, protected from fire, atmospheric and insect damage and still available to the public all the written and printed material relating to the history of Danvers and Salem Village. Dick Trask has been the Town Archivist serving at the center since its opening and over the years that Essex Heritage has played a role in the preservation mission in this region, he has been a wonderful resource to this organization. The grant while unexpected is certainly attributable to the usual approach that is taken by the Danvers Town Archivist who has always been a wonderful, enthusiastic and open supporter of all such efforts in this region. In addition to his work at the center, Dick has been most helpful to Essex Heritage as he has regularly offered advice and council to us as well as playing an active role in the past on our Partnership Grant Committee. I am proud to serve with Dick on the Board of Trustees of the Danvers Historical Society where his guidance is always much appreciated and his support for the efforts of that organization a wonderful resource...

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 www.essexheritage.org. 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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