Monday, September 19, 2011

Essex Happenings September 19, 2011

Search for Town Manager in North Andover Nearing Completion

We have reported here in the past that the Town of North Andover have been searching for a replacement for the Manager who left that post to take a position in Portland, Maine. That search process has now been narrowed to a list of eight candidates from a original list of 63. The finalists will now be invited to a personal interview with the search committee. That group of candidates will be reduced to 4 to 6 individuals that will be offered an interview with the Selectmen.

Lynn Seeking to Add Commuter Ferry to Boston

The City of Lynn has been gathering funding, primarily from the Massachusetts Seaport Council and has advocated that the money will be used to attempt to institute a commuter ferry between that community and the center city in Boston. The effort has been embraced and pursued by the officials that represent the community and they will continue to advance this objective into the future. The ferry if created would run year round as opposed to the Salem and Winthrop ferries that are seasonally in nature. The Salem boat is usually quite full on many of its trip, but has seen some passenger reductions on mid-week runs. But in general has been very important to the tourist economy of that city that is off a bit from previous years.

For any of you who may have taken the trip from Salem to Boston on a pleasant weather day, quickly recognizes that the trip along the coast of Massachusetts can be a most enjoyable experience, not including the chance provided to visit the two exciting tourist dependant cities. Just in the last couple of days, the company that operates the Salem Ferry has announced that due to increased fuel costs and other escalating expenses and lower than expected rider ship that they will cut the days of operation of the ferry to the three weekend days rather than the seven day schedule that they had been offering The same pleasant opportunity and a commuter component will be provided to those riders that will take advantage of the proposed Lynn/Boston trip and the continuing expense levels would expect to also apply to the Lynn project, so there will be obstacles to overcome to make this program profitable. The proposed Lynn trip would depart from a Blossom Street dock in Lynn and would take 30 minutes to complete the trip to Boston. Parking for 300 hundred cars are expected to be provided in Lynn, and the City has high hopes for an active rider base and feels that the ferry could prove to be economically advantageous for merchants in the city. Only time will tell how the trip might work during the less than superior weather days that we experience here in new England during the period from November to April. This idea seems to have merit, and we will continue to monitor this project as plans develop and report on progress.

Preservation Battle Brewing in Salem

For the last several months an interesting discussion has been ongoing in Salem regarding the re-development of a property built over six decades ago as a Roman Catholic Church on Lafayette Street in Salem. The interesting church building on the site described as a cruciform design is being considered a site for the construction of 51 much-needed affordable housing units and other uses. There are several other buildings on the site that will be saved and re-used, but it appears that the church is not a candidate for any possible re-use. The debate in Salem is between numerous individuals and organizations that believe passionately that preservation is an important component of any successful real estate strategy for that centuries old community. The other side of the argument is raised by neighborhood activists from the Point neighborhood advocating for the housing that they contend will enhance the long term positive outlook for the neighborhood. It is also possible that housing might provide more benefits to the city through tax revenue and possibly the creation of some much needed construction jobs. I had a limited connection to the church as in my youth, my dad who helped me with a Sunday newspaper route, made that church our destination on most Sundays as the church offered a very early church service at 6:00 AM before we began to tend to the delivery of the newspapers. The current church was built to replace a previous facility that burned in the Salem fire in 1914, so it ha been a neighborhood fixture for decades.

Preservation Contracts signed on Marblehead

Speaking of local preservation issues, the Town of Marblehead recently signed contracts to have two important preservation projects in the seaside community. The City has awarded two municipal repair contracts. The Town will pay $24,500 for the Gun House restoration project and $17,736 to repair windows and the siding at the Town owned Marblehead Yacht Club.

World War II Vintage Military Aircraft Visit Beverly

Staying with the preservation theme three vintage aircraft that have been preserved for the last half century were available for inspection and flights over the last weekend at Beverly Airport. Two heavy bombers, a B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator that carried the day during the war in Europe and a P-51 mustang fighter plane provided a trip back in time for hundreds of visitors. On Saturday morning we took a cup of coffee over to a parking lot at the Cherry Hill Industrial Park with dozens of other airplane buffs and watched as these historic aircraft took off and landed as they provided 30-minute flights for paying customers. The funds raised on this 110 city tour that when added to funding provided by a national non profit foundation will hopefully keep these “Wings of Freedom” aircraft flying into the future. The aircraft are certainly worth the preservation effort, as they represent such an important part of the history of this country.

Rail Trail to Open in Haverhill

Rail Trail projects across the region continue to expand as a new trail has been dedicated and opened to the public last week in Haverhill. The current mile long trail is open to walkers, cyclists, joggers and other non motorized uses Funding for the trail came from a state grant, and officials in that Merrimac Valley Community have now begun to plan how the present trail can be expanded. It is very clear that if funding can be found, rail trails will continue to expand, as demand for these kinds of recreational assets are being expanded in many of the regions communities. Let’s hope that additional funding for projects all over this region could be expanded to bring more recreational opportunities to the region and its residents, if funding were made available to local communities.

Bob Curtis, and Wayne Marquis in Danvers….A Half Century of Leadership

Late last week, the Town of Danvers named the main loop road in Endicott Park after the former Town Manager Robert Curtis. It was with Bob Curtis’s leadership that the valuable park property was acquired by the Town and a large subdivision of homes was averted That decision was a most positive one as today, Endicott Park is a centerpiece for passive recreation in the Town of Danvers. The designation of the road in Bob’s name is well deserved and overdue. It has recently been noted that Bob Curtis served as Town Manager of Danvers for eighteen years and in addition to all of the wise decisions that he made during his time in charge, the best move of them all, may have been the hiring Wayne Marquis as his Assistant Manager. When Bob left town management to take over the leadership of the North Shore Economic Council, he passed the torch of town leadership to Wayne Marquis. The North Shore Economic Council did not work at that time as it was a bit ahead of its time, but it became the fore runner of today’s North Shore Alliance for Economic Development that is having an impact on the region in 2011. Believe it or not, that term of service has now reached thirty-two years. I would suspect that when you realize that Town of Danvers has had only two managers over the last half century, you can quickly see why the Town has been so well managed. Continuity has been the key to success. Bob Curtis should be commended for many actions in his career and the recent award is most justified.

Spaulding Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Council

I was recently asked and have agreed to serve on a group that is focused on examining programs used at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital-North Shore and then being providing both advisory advocacy support to improve conditions and strengthen communication between and among the various constituencies that manager and use the hospital. The group is charged to have a dozen to 15 members serving for a one or two year term and at least half of the members must be patients. The council is staffed by hospital representatives and at my first meeting earlier this month, we heard reports about the patient discharge process and look at how that might be improved. This group is also charged with the public support of the council and the hospital. That will be an easy charge for me to embrace as the mission seems so clear and meaningful to me.

Sports in the Last Two Weeks,

The first two weeks of the NFL season have been entertaining and most enjoyable for the fans of the New England Patriots, and the Tom Brady, the leader of that team of off to an incredible start and is on a track to a record breaking year. Only time will tell if this pace can be maintained. On the other hand, the last two weeks have not been kind to The Red Sox. We can only hope that they will get their act together and get the act back in shape for the final two-week run until October.

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