Friday, June 22, 2012

Essex Happenings… JUNE 22, 2012


Essex National Heritage Commission Trustees Meeting
This month I participated in the quarterly meeting of the Board of Trustees of Essex Heritage. Several issues of importance to the region were presented and discussed including the recently developed marketing brochure for the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway which does a wonderful job of pointing out many of the assets along the North Shore. The marketing brochure is available at many locations along the byway and at other sites in the region. The marketing material points out adventures that await visitors to the region at almost every turn on the scenic byway. Visitors (and residents too!) can experience history, beaches, seafood, hiking, parks, bird watching, culture, swimming, kayaking, art, leaf peeping, recreation, music, biking, architecture, galleries, fishing, theatre, shopping, museums, shopping, lodging, sailing, and much, much more, all on the eighty-five mile scenic byway that winds its way along the coast of this spectacular region. The byway is a valuable and important part of the congressionally designated Essex National Heritage Area whose mission is to preserve and promote the historic, cultural and natural resources of this region.

The meeting was also an opportunity for the Commission leadership to update Trustees on the many on-going and new partnerships that Essex Heritage has created with the National Park Service, The House of the Seven Gables and other regional organizations including a new agreement with the Essex County Greenbelt Association on the Moraine Farm in Beverly and with the Gables for a Latino focused pilot educational program funded by the National Park Foundation.

There was a lively discussion about the very active Essex Heritage membership program and the special events that are being offered to members throughout the year. For more information on the membership program and to join, please visit

Information on the work by leadership on the extension and maintenance of this region as a heritage area was also outlined as part of the meeting. Work in this area is being accomplished with the help our Washington D.C. delegation.

The meeting concluded with a recap of the many events scheduled this summer including Essex Heritage’s very popular Photo Safaris and several interesting up-coming lectures. Visit the Essex Heritage web site at for information or to make a reservation for one of these events.

Essex Heritage Commissioner Nominations
Essex Heritage has 150 commissioners who serve three year terms as ambassadors for the Commission. New commissioners are elected at the regional meetings held each spring and fall. At the up-coming Essex Heritage Fall Annual Meeting in October, it is anticipated that approximately 15 new commissioners will be named to fill retiring positions. The Commission’s Nominating Committee recently held a meeting to identify potential new commissioners. 


Friendship Returns!
The National Park Service’s tall ship Friendship returned to her permanent berth at Derby Wharf on June 9. Crowds gathered at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site to welcome her home. Friendship spent the past nine months in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, where she underwent scheduled repairs and USCG inspections. The second phase of repair work on the ship is being undertaken by NPS staff and Friendship volunteers at the wharf in Salem. Friendship will not be participating in any sailing events this year due to ongoing work, but there will be public access to Friendship throughout the summer although it will be on a modified schedule as carpenters and engineers complete the various maintenance projects. Visitors will be able to tour the ship except when the repair operations prevent safe public access.

Plundering Privateers Brought to Life by Author Captain Michael Rutstein:
On June 28 at 7 PM at the Salem Visitor Center (2 New Liberty Street) the National Park Service will present a free lecture and book signing about the Salem privateers during the War of 1812. Captain Michael Rutstein of the schooner Fame and local maritime artist Racket Shreve have collaborated on a new book about these privateers and their exploits, titled The Privateering Stroke.

Captain Rutstein will present highlights from the book, while Mr. Shreve will talk about the challenge of creating illustrations for it — in most cases, depicting vessels for which there are scant historical records. They will be signing copies of their book after the presentation, and refreshments will be served.

Captain Rutstein sails a modern replica of the schooner Fame, the first American privateer to bring in a prize during the War of 1812. The schooner conducts public sails, private charters, and a summer camp from her historic home port of Salem. Racket Shreve, of Salem MA, who was trained as an illustrator, is not only a noted maritime artist and longtime sailor but also builds and restores historic boat models.  

Regional Transportation Issues
One of the issues that I have spoken out about whenever I have had the chance is public transportation and the important need to develop a regional transportation plan. That plan needs to create a process of implementing an up-to-date regional plan to handle local traffic in the eastern half of this state. This initiative has always been a focal point for Essex Heritage as we have always been a long-time and vocal participant in meetings that would foster these proposed changes. Following is a printed report covering a recent regional meeting of local officials addressing the same cause and I thought the report might be of interest to all of you. I have participated with other transportation advocates such as Salem’s David Pelletier, the former Mayor of Lynn Mayor, Tom Costin, and Ted Grant of the Lynn Business partnership. We have long advocated for the development of a regional transportation system that included bringing rapid transit access further up the North Shore.

Report on the Transportation Summit: Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone joined the mayors of Boston, Salem and Fitchburg, former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Richard Davey and other officials Monday to pressure state lawmakers into investing more in transportation.

The mayors all spoke at the "Transportation Summit," held in the middle of Boston's South Station, calling for long-term, sustainable ways to pay for the state's infrastructure needs.

No one uttered the words "gas tax." Instead, the focus was on selling the idea that Massachusetts needs a state-wide way to pay for rails, roads and bridges. The PR blitz kicked off what is expected to be a widespread campaign to bring in various constituencies, like business, greens and labor, to the cause.  

Mayor Curtatone made the case it makes economic sense to invest in transportation. "Everyone knows," said the mayor, "that a modern, comprehensive and efficient and reliable transportation system is a non-negotiable requirement for a healthy economy, for healthy communities and for a decent quality of life in every community across this commonwealth."

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who also serves as the President of the Massachusetts Mayors Association said that a few years ago, people might have been surprised to learn of the shortfalls in transit funding. "It's not a news flash that the transportation system is underfunded," she said.

Curtatone used a phrase invoked by several speakers, saying we've "kicked the can down the road" by putting off investments in transportation. He said dwindling resources have for too long pitted various interest groups against one another: Suburbs versus cities, rural communities versus urban areas, drivers versus rail and transit unions. "That has got to stop and it's got to stop now," Curtatone told a crowd of more than 100 from a dais set up on the main floor of the station.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said that needed reforms have taken place so that new revenue won't be wasted by being poured into a "broken system."

Gov. Deval Patrick shook up the way transportation is managed in the state. The state's Secretary of Transportation, Richard Davey, said the MBTA and Department of Transportation have cut costs, trimmed employee benefits back to private-sector levels and improved customer service.

That sets the stage for politicians to begin the push for new taxes, though that word wasn't used. "Now it's time for new revenue," Menino said. "We must find sustainable funding for investments in the commonwealth's infrastructure."  


Danvers Bi-Peds
The Bi-Peds and the Town of Danvers have been important partners with Essex Heritage in promoting and developing the Border to Boston regional rail trail from Danvers to Salisbury. Through their diligent work, the phase 1 of the Danvers portion of this walking and cycling trail was recently opened to the public. The opening celebration was held on June 2 and despite the torrential rain that day, there was a very festive opening ceremony at the Danvers Indoor Sports Arena where local politicians lead by Selectman Bill Clarke spoke of the many years it took to realize the dream of this recreational trail and local school children cut the celebratory ribbon. The new interpretive signs, funded in part by Essex Heritage, were displayed. These signs will be installed along the trail by volunteers this coming weekend (June 23-24).  

Trail Meetings and Bi-PedEvents:
 • On June 11, the Bi-Peds held a regularly scheduled meeting at the Carriage House at Endicott Park where new board members were officially welcomed. Plans were started to make the coming year be the ‘Year of the Sidewalk’. The public is welcome to attend these meetings and to “bring your concerns and ideas for making Danvers a safer place to bike and walk.”
 • On June 21, there was a Rail Trail Advisory Committee that met at the Toomey Room, Town Hall. All Monthly meetings are open to the public and are held on the 3rd Thursday of every month. For more information, contact Kate Day - Senior Planner, 978-777-0001, ext 3029, It is the place where you can “share your concerns & learn about the latest developments.”
Upcoming: Sunday, July 1, 2012 - It’s My Heart Walk – For the past several years, the Bi-Peds have had a table during Endicott Park Day to give out helmets funded by a state grant. This year the Bi-Peds did not receive the grant but in the spirit of Danvers Family Festival being “DAYS OF FUN”, the Bi-Peds will assist with a walk sponsored by It’s My Heart - a non-profit organization created to provide support to and be advocate for those affected by Acquired and Congenital Heart Defects (CHD). The Ouimette family is very active in this group and will be looking for volunteers to help that day. Contact Ron Ouimette at or (978) 985-8084 or Ingrid Barry at at 978-774-8159 or if you can volunteer.  

Bi-Ped officers for the coming year:
• President: Ingrid Barry
• Vice President: Laura Cilley
• Treasurer: Peter Maddocks 
• Secretary: Ron Ouimette 
• Membership secretary: Larry Tormey 
• Directors: Susan Balsley, Tom Barry, Lew Hathaway, Linda Matthews, Heidi Wallingford

 Bi-Peds Goals: As the organization moves into it’s 11th year, we hope to continue to assist the rail trail when the need arises but also hope to put more of our emphasis on the safety of the sidewalks of Danvers.


Peabody Farmers Market Program Calling for Volunteers
As the City of Peabody gets closer to the planned opening of their two Farmers Markets that operate on Tuesday’s and Saturday’s through fall 2012. City officials are calling for volunteers who would be willing to help set up and then tear down the booths and assist the vendors as they prepare for the markets. The markets will run through the early fall. If you are interested in volunteering some time to this important community project, please contact Pam Lombardi, the Peabody Market Manager at or call her at 978-745-9592.  

Murals in the Region
Call them cultural in nature, but murals prepared by professionals and volunteers are becoming very popular in the region. The City of Salem will soon be showing off two examples of this art form, and there are plans for murals currently under development in other communities in the Essex Heritage region.

From June 21 through July 12, art work made by students working with the Art Department at the Peabody High School will be displayed at the Peabody Community Arts Center on Foster Street. The show opened with a public reception on June 21.  

Lynn Schools Receives Music Award
The City of Lynn school district recently received national recognition for the excellent quality of their music program. The district was selected by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation as one of its 2012 Best Communities for Music Education. The announcement said that: “The foundation annually awards the designation to districts and schools across the country that commit to making music education a core part of their curriculums.” Eight years ago only 15 students were playing stringed instruments. Now more than 500 have joined the program which is so popular that it now has its very own all-city strings concert. Lynn was one of 176 schools nationwide to receive this award. Congratulations Lynn Public Schools! 


Spaulding Appreciation Dinner
As a result of our participation on a Patient Spaulding Advisory Committee that meets monthly, that offers advice and counsel to the management of Spaulding Rehabilitation in Salem to improve patient interactions, my wife and I were invited and attended an Appreciation dinner held at the Historic Hawthorne Hotel on the Salem Common on June 12, 2012. The event was offered by the hospital to thank dozens of volunteers who provide support at various levels. In addition to a pleasant Hawthorne Hotel meal offered by the most competent and gracious staff, the hospital invited Ms. Joanne Patton, the owner and operator of Green Meadow Farm, a Hamilton resident and a very generous regional philanthropist, to offer some of her observations to the gathered volunteers. For many year, Essex Heritage has had a most fruitful partnership relationship with the farm. Green Meadows has been a regular host of wonderful events during the Essex Heritage annual Trails & Sails – Two Weekends of Walks and Water every fall. The farm has also provided educational partnership events for our membership. I spent a few pleasant moments that evening with Ms. Patton discussing our relationship.

Regional High School Sports Update
I want to offer my personal congratulations to all of the local regional high school athletes who participated in the spring MIAA playoffs. Some of the students participated deep into the playoffs and others were eliminated early in the playoffs, but all were worthy participants. Regardless of the level of individual participation - congratulations to all of you who participated.

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