Friday, July 22, 2011


Partnership Grant Spotlight
East Parish Meeting House Report Completed 
Using a 2010 Essex Heritage Partnership Grant

The East Parish Meeting House
Society recently completed a historic structures report for the East Parish Meeting House in Haverhill. Written by consultant Peter Rudd of Elemental Designs, Inc., the report will help the society better assess and plan for the building's long term preservation.

Built in 1838 and worshipped in by the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, the small, quintessential former New England church structure is one of only seven original meeting houses remaining in Massachusetts. In 2010, faced with an uncertain future and in need of significant repair and restoration, the meeting house was named one of the most endangered historic resources in the state by Preservation Massachusetts, the statewide, nonprofit historic preservation organization. Read more (pdf).

SwampWalk Open House Celebration @ George's home, 37 Longbow Road, Saturday afternoon, July 23, noon-3PM

Beat the heat this Saturday.
Enjoy the air-conditioned showing of the 'SwampWalk Slide Show' running on a 52" HDTV & 9-speaker home theater system:

Salem Bike Path

The City of Salem has taken a big step to make that city more receptive to bike riders. The city has recently completed a striping project that now identifies a 4.8 mile bike lane that will allow a north-south transit from the Marblehead town line to Winter Island Park in the witch city. The identified lane creates a designated space for bike riders to travel safely through the city sharing the roads with other vehicular traffic. The new lane also connects to three or four existing Salem bike paths, so the effect adds even more continuous space to ride in the city. The city continues to plan for additional bike improvements in the city and recently added over fifty bike racks in the downtown to help solve the “where do I park my bike issue.” The bike lane will hopefully point out to other traffic that the streets now need to be shared. The new bike initiative will allow these visitors to stop at several parks, open spaces, schools and beaches. Another important by-product of this new initiative might get a few more cars off Salem streets and that would have a positive impact on a city already crowded by cars. When one considers the bike path improvements made in Peabody and the continuing improvements being provided in Danvers and other local communities, this region is fast becoming a mecca for bike riders. One only had to ride through local communities on last Sunday when a charity event, starting in Lynnfield and continued to Gloucester, called Reids Ride brought out local bike riders who were all over local roads. Essex Heritage has been a primary supporter of bike paths and cycling through its administration and management of the Border to Boston bike path initiative that would allow one to ultimately ride from the North Shore into New Hampshire. So, in addition to helping get some fume producing vehicles off the local roads, we might be contributing to a healthier and better conditioned population.

Farmers Market Opens in Peabody

It certainly appears to me, that every time we post to this Blog, we have another announcement about a farmers market opening. This week is no exception as we see that last week the City of Peabody opened its market for the ninth consecutive year. This market, for some unknown reason, has not been as popular as others in the region. We hope that this year will bring new activity to this important community. The Peabody market will be open every Tuesday from 1-6 until mid October and will operate along Railroad Avenue adjacent to the Little Depot Diner off Central Street and behind the County Courthouse. This year, on a trial basis to enhance the effort, the City will also operate a second market on Saturdays in the Courtyard of the Peabody Institute Library starting on August 13th through September 17th from 9 to 1. The event will include entertainment as well as the usual produce found at traditional Farmers Markets. Providing support to these markets that are offered in numerous communities around the region serves many purposes. Not only are consumers able to access healthy locally grown produce, participation provides substantial economic support to the agricultural element of this region, but that continuing support provides incentive for local farmers to keep farming and helps to preserve hundreds of acres of open space in this region. The viability of local farms will help preserve the look and feel of this region that helps make the region what it has been for centuries.

Salem to Repair Pedestrian Mall

One of the most talked about assets in the City of Salem is its pedestrian mall that runs from what was once known as town house square down to the important Peabody-Essex Museum. In the last couple of months the city has been conducting a series of meetings to receive community input into how the mall could become more visitor friendly and more economically viable. After gathering facts a plan was crafted and a grant was applied for. Unfortunately the city has learned that their grant application was denied, but they are now looking at alternative options to provide funding to implement their plan. Even in light of those recent disappointments the city has embarked on a short term plan to make required improvements to the mall that, while they may not appear to be major changes, they will take care of important needs. Contractors are currently at work realigning cobblestones and brick segments of the mall to make the mall more walkable. The funding for these short term improvements are being provided by the city from Chapter 90 funds provided by the Commonwealth to improve and maintain local streets and roads.

Summer Camp for homeless begins in Danvers

A couple of postings ago, I reported on a summer camp program that has been organized by the Town of Danvers to provide summer support services to some of the many children from homeless families currently being housed in motels in Danvers. The summer camp program, that is being housed at the Highlands School, was created in response to school being finished for the year and a concern for what would happen to those school age children who might be relegated to using motel parking lots as playgrounds. The program like many in Danvers is being both funded and supported by volunteers. The Town has reached out seeking financial support and has received donations from residents and then two local banks. Eastern Bank and the North Shore Bank made major financial commitments that will insure that the program can be offered for the planned six weeks duration. In addition to the financial support needed, the Danvers People to People Food Pantry and the Danvers Senior Center and its managing Council on Aging will provide much needed support.

College Continues Planning with Lawrence

It is always good news when the region’s largest city has a positive announcement to make. The City of Lawrence has recently transferred ownership of a property on Common Street to the Commonwealth. This is an important step that will allow Northern Essex Community College to build and open an Allied Health and Technology Center in downtown Lawrence. The property transfer clears the way for a demolition project to begin, which will ultimately result in a new 39,000 sq ft college facility to be built in the downtown area. The new building is expected to be completed and open for students in the fall of 2013. Having a college facility in the downtown with the students it will bring to the area will likely have a most positive economic impact on the city’s downtown. This has been the case in other communities downtowns and I would expect the same result for Lawrence

Local Option Meals and Hotel Taxes Increasing

I recently read a column that indicated that the local option taxes on meals and hotel rooms were producing positive results for many local communities north of Boston. I have no specific results to report, but both Peabody and Danvers with many hotel rooms and communities like Salem and Saugus with numerous eating establishments must be receiving additional funds over projections. I expect that those extra funds are most welcome in these difficult budget times.

Passing of Myra Kraft

As a long time New England Patriots season ticket holder and fan, it was sad news this past week to hear of the passing of Myra Kraft, the wife of Patriots owner Robert Kraft. While she walked in the background in the sports management hierarchy in this region, she was a force in helping to choose a direction for the Patriots. She helped set the moral compass of that franchise and she will be sorely missed. May she rest in peace and her memory will be perpetuated in the many wonderful charitable endeavors that she established and supported during her life.

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