Tuesday, January 24, 2012

eSSEX Happenings 1.24.12

I remain very humbled that Essex Heritage has decided to honor me as their Heritage Hero for 2012. I reluctantly reprint an article from the recent ENHC newsletter that also provides information on sponsorship opportunities and how ticket reservations can be made for that event generously sponsored by Salem Five Bank.

May 9, 2012 Essex Heritage Hero Award Dinner Honoring Thomas M. Leonard

Essex Heritage and the National Park Service are pleased to honor Thomas M. Leonard on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at the fifth annual Essex Heritage Hero Award Dinner! This celebration recognizes the special contributions of individuals across Essex County whose passions embody the mission of Essex Heritage - to protect and preserve the region's rich historic, cultural and natural resources.

A Salem native and enduring advocate for heritage preservation in Essex County, Tom's long and distinguished career with Salem Five reinforced his pursuits as a strong community leader. Tom is a committed supporter of local organizations in need, and currently serves on a number of non-profit boards such as the Danvers Council on Aging, Danvers Historical Society, North Shore Elder Services, Town of Danvers Finance Committee, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, Salem Rotary, Salem Partnership. He is President Emeritus of the Essex National Heritage Commission. In addition, Mr. Leonard's 65-year relationship with St. John's Preparatory School includes service as a committee chair, Board Trustee, and recipient of a distinguished alumni award. Mr. Leonard was elected to the school's Hall of Honor and remains a Trustee Emeritus. Tom Leonard's lifetime achievements embody the qualities that define 'Heritage Hero.'

Please join us to honor Tom! Tickets are available for purchase online and we welcome your interest in all available ad and sponsorship opportunities.

Thanks to Salem Five for their generous commitment as the Presenting Sponsor of this event.

Downtown Parking Issues

In the most recent Sunday issue of the Boston Globe, there was a most insightful issue about parking issues in downtown areas. The story focused on an unusual principal that advocated that parking spaces in our downtown areas should be priced based on their desirability. The principal espoused in the concept indicated that our present downtown parking problems stem from the fact that we have too many spaces priced at too low a cost. For the most part, parking meters in our local downtowns need to be re-priced with the most valuable spaces priced higher so that the spaces in the most accessible places will turn over more frequently. Most parking meters in our local downtowns are priced on average at about .25 cents for every 12 minutes or about $1.25 per hour. At that price it is no wonder that it is difficult to find a space close to the shopping in our major urban centers. People take a convenient space in the downtown and then do not, in many cases, make any attempt to move from that location and in many cases sit in that same spot all day and feed the meter. That process clearly defeats the process of turnover of the spaces and less spots are available at any point in time. The story in the recent Sunday paper indicated that the urban communities should consider raising the prices on the most valuable spots, and thereby make more spaces available. The City of Salem is in the process of instituting a program like the one described in that urban setting. It will be interesting to follow the progress of that plan to see if more spaces in the most valuable parts of downtown Salem become available. Parking in locations not directly adjacent to the primary locations in the immediate downtown will not be as expensive and will hopefully encourage shoppers who can park in a somewhat more distant part of the city and walk to their destination will be rewarded with a less expensive cost. That proposed plan will for those folks willing to walk a bit more distant also be beneficial to their general health as well. This plan will not work for everyone, as those that have a disability will continue to have to look for a “handy” location and I would anticipate all of these plans will include a continuing fair number of parking locations for those with handicaps. We will continue to follow this issue to see if the program as planned will work and open up even more convenient parking spaces in those downtowns that consider such programs. Salem has also put a bike share program in place in that city and that program would be a plus for a city that adopts such a plan.

Recent Population Increases Allow Danvers to increase the Number of Town Meeting Members

The recent 2010 census has indicated that there has been a five percent increase in the population of the town and that increase will now allow the town to dramatically increase the number of elected Town Meeting members. The total population of Danvers has now grown to 26,493. The number of Town Meeting members in the community to be elected will now be increased by three members in each of the Towns precincts and the final number of members that will be elected at the May 2012 meeting will be 144 members. This will represent an increase of 24 up from 120 members that has been in place since 1992 when the number went from 96 to the current level of 120. If anyone reading this report has an interest in serving in one of these spots, nomination papers can be obtained at the Town Clerks Office on Feb 1, 2012 and papers must be returned by March 13, 2012 to be considered. For anyone interested in serving as a Town Meeting Member in Danvers, this is a wonderful opportunity to participate in this truly democratic process.

Grange in Bradford Elects new Leaders

There are not alot of Grange Organizations still operating in this region. The ones that are active still play a valuable role as they continue to focus much of their efforts on the preservation of the agricultural efforts in this region. Several years ago I was lucky enough to make a presentation on the mission of Essex Heritage that was very well received to the combined Danvers-Beverly Grange organization. That evening I shared a potluck dinner with the membership prior to my presentation and I learned quite a bit about their work that evening. Just recently the Bradford group, that is one of five regional organization, connected nationally with the agricultural organization that was founded in 1867. Their meeting was set to elect a new group of officers to serve this year. The group holds monthly meetings at the Bradford Country store. For more information about the organization and their meetings contact www.bradfordgrange@verizon.net

Volunteers Tackle Public Project

In a most unusual project residents and local businesses donated labor and material to complete a much needed project in the Town of Newbury. The long closed DPW garage has been brought back to the point that it can now be occupied after several years of non use. This is both a wonderful and unique example of a pubic private partnership that saves public tax expenditures and demonstrates how a community and its residents can work together most successfully, to complete a needed project.

Town of Marblehead Selects a new Town Administrator

The Board of Selectmen in the seaside community recently extended an offer and hired a new Town Administrator replacing the long time Administrator Tony Sasso. The new senior administrator will be Jeff Chelgren who at present is the town of Wenham’s administrator. The runner up for the postion was Thomas Younger who is currently serving as the interim Manager of Ipswich while that community seeks a permanent manager to replace Bob Merkle who moved on to a new position in Maine.

There has been a great deal of movement in recent months as many of the Chief Administrative officers of communities in this region have been active in improving their job opportunities, We will continue to monitor these changes in the region as the leadership of the communities in this region are the people Essex Heritage interacts with regularly as some of our primary partners in our mission to help preserve the historic, cultural and natural resources of Essex County.

As I observe the multiple leadership changes occurring in this region, as a resident and participant in the municipal process in Danvers, I am always struck by the long term, continuing professional management of that community which they enjoy with Manager Wayne Marquis, that certainly helps provide the ongoing positive leadership to that fast growing community.

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