Okay, We Get The Point!

Dry as dust, boring as heck – tedious at best – this seems to be the point with the Daily News’ “This Day in History”.       The basic subliminal message is that it should not be dwelt upon, there are no significant events to worry about and we should dispense with it and get on with the present.     And above all, there are no lessons to be learned from dwelling on our past.

If you’ve been enjoying walking around Newburyport as I do, one homeowner tried to underscore this fact with an interesting plaque put on their historical house:Here nothing happened in 1897

I guess that is the point.

Unfortunately for those who want to bury our past – how can you not feel excitement and passion when you hear that our little city helped shape the world’s only superpower.    How can you not feel adventure and romance at the significant events that Newburyport was part of during its first 100 years of existence.

And the people!     William Bartlett, Caleb Cushing, George Whitefield, Jonathan Parsons, etc. (Listing them all would really tire the reader!) and the heroes, known and unknown; adventurers, inventors, pirates, privateers, powerful businessmen, political powerhouses and daring soldiers not withstanding literary and spiritual leaders.

As I have said before, you can not leave history with historians – I have pitied poor Michael Mroz at the Custom House when these dry bones have spoken. (and the audience too)    In fact, history teachers have so turned off many to the study of past events and people by not explaining the importance and significance.

Why do we not study Joe the Plumber down the street or Harriet the grocery checkout lady?    Or for that matter, why not my neighbor or me for that fact?     It’s because we focus on significant events and people.      Why?     So we can be challenged with a vision, to marvel at their accomplishments and to learn powerful lessons so we too can mirror their successes by modeling our lives in some like-fashion.

Why did Edward Gibbon write the ponderous The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire?     Why didn’t he focus on its successes?     Because it was a powerful lesson that we too could lose our way of life and even our civilization by mimicking the mistakes made so long ago.

Newburyport has such mystery, romance and passion – the Mayor is right to play up the Birthplace of the U.S. Coast Guard but it is just the start!     We should celebrate, explore and learn all about our history.

The more we dig, the more exciting it gets!

-P. Preservationist

PS. The hatred of our past is purely motivated by economics.     If the past is of no value, and the city is not historically and nationally significant;  then no one should mind if we demolish old houses and bury our past.

Posted in Architecture, Art & Culture, Demolitions, Education, Heritage Tourism, History, Preservation, Quality of Life, Streetscapes | Leave a comment

“There Oughta Be A Law!”

This expression usually comes from some awful situation that’s been allowed to continue in the community or society but unfortunately no law exists to stop it.       Something so atrocious that law-abiding, upstanding citizens exclaim in desperation, “There oughta be a law!”

Here in Newburyport, we have just such a situation.   A violation of our decency that exists day in and day out and in every season.     So wretched that people have been seriously hurt and yes, even died from it.       Our economy suffers by it, our quality of life is severely damaged due to it and yet it just keeps continuing.

Crazily, without even tugging on our wallets – all it would take would be bold leadership by our legislators to resolve it.         Property values would rise, community spirit would be lifted and our visitors to which we depend on financially would spread the good news ever increasing our reputation and bringing more of them back.

We have horrible sidewalks.       They are uneven, consist of a wide-ranging list of materials from packed stone dust to brick to blacktop to concrete to cobblestone.     They are often cracked, crumbling, uplifted, choked with weeds, too narrow, and unpredictably wavy.     The locals have consciously and subconsciously adjusted by walking down the middle of our less-busy streets.     The children are endangered; and our visitors?      They have sprained their ankles, been seriously hurt and often leave our city with a sour view of our streets.

And what about those less-fortunate to have two good feet or even basic balance?    They too must use our public streets for motorized wheelchairs and even using crutches can guarantee a fall.     Curbs are precipitous and the lack of maintenance make the sidewalk terrain treacherous.      Our elderly too are endangered right along with our children trying to get to school.

And yet – the city’s attempt has been horrifying.     They won’t maintain the sidewalks leaving them (hopefully) for an adjacent homeowner to do all the work.     Many citizens don’t have the resources or if they do, they are told that is ‘city property’. (hinting at, ‘don’t touch’)    The city insists on putting in concrete (when they have the cash) right into the heart of the heritage tourism area (Newburyport Historic District) but self-consciously understanding the wrong they are doing, they allow certain stretches to be kept brick thus violating the American Disabilities Act about consistent surfaces.   They try to destroy our historic district with ghastly ramped areas in concrete ruining the look and feel of our historic city.    When they are tight with money they slather blacktop even though their own policies forbid it as a recommended surface.    And we have still street after street with crumbled Great Depression-era concrete, wavy blacktop and shattered brick and, of all things, nasty cobblestones. (because some homeowner thought it was ‘historic’ and attractive.)

There oughta be a law!


Incredibly, there are ALREADY laws and policies and standards that are right in place!    But they happen to have been passed by other heritage tourism towns and cities.     Their locals and visitors get to enjoy increased property values and a high quality of life, general safety for their children, for the elderly and for the handicapped.     Positive words have gotten around about their towns and cities and their economic conditions have been improved. (and I might add that last statement has been well-documented).

So, the question bears – when will our community and our legislators resolve this agonizing situation?       This as I will indicate in more posts is not a money problem; it is a lack of community and political will.

Laws need to come first!

-P. Preservationist

Posted in Economics, Environment, finances, Health and wellness, Heritage Tourism, Maintenance, News and politics, Quality of Life, Real Estate, sidewalks, Streetscapes, Taxes, Tourism | Leave a comment

I’m Back!!! Did you miss me?

I have been unable to respond about anyone or anything for months.      This forced sabbatical has been utterly unbearable.

They dangled money before my eyes and without hesitation, I took it!    It’s one thing to be on again and off again for three years on contract and temp jobs; and now a regular position.       But it’s another thing when they offer overtime in bucketful’s.       It leaves very little time to be sociable and it definitely does not leave time to do blogs or even to be active politically.

Well, that’s all done now.

In the meantime, Gary Caldwell and his pimping contractor base are busily gutting and destroying and Disney-fying our city with the Mayor pretending  she sees nothing…all for the mighty tax dollar.

We have a new Master Plan and a new Zoning Plan being worked on by those who haven’t a clue about our historic city and with little public (or common sense) input. We have a rampaging Karp, Jr. who could care less about historic preservation and will do anything to stab himself in the eye. (in the end)

We have the Fascists-in-training looking to steer the citizen’s community spirit into empty-headed, meaningless drives from world peace to plastic bags (Believe me they are just getting started) while the city is overrun with drug dealers and an occasional  prostitution ring.

We have a Waterfront that will be going once-again in perpetual circles because of a few well-placed, delusional individuals who still think building on the central waterfront is a good idea.

We still have 19th-century telephone poles stuck all over the city laden down with enough wires, we look like a Nigerian city or Calcutta.       We have sidewalks that are a nightmare or that insult our heritage tourism; and we have an ever-increasing population of citizens who haven’t a clue about our culture or our history.

We have a Zoning Board of Appeals who want to run their board like it has always run and ignore the new responsibilities that have been thrust upon them being more of a temporary stop sign in front of the demo squad of contractors, consultants and lawyers.

Don’t get me wrong, this city is in a LOT BETTER CONDITION than other communities and is in a lot better position to fix these problems.       In the Bible, there is a fundamental principle: to whom much is given, much is required.       Newburyport is in an enviable position filled with great people and great resources and I might add great history and great organizations.

A city that has so much going for it has a responsibility not to squander it.

All I can do as Poor Preservationist (Yes, still poor but with some coins in the pocket rattling around for the time being) is to point out what is needed, uncover the facts, expose the dark side, promote the city and hopefully, inspire hundreds of residents armed with knowledge to do great things.       In addition, to let as many who are looking on from outside the city to know that there is much to enjoy and experience in this community which is so full of historical-mystery and romance.

-P. Preservationist

Posted in Art & Culture, Demolitions, Developers, Education, Heritage Tourism, History, Organizations, Planning, Preservation, Quality of Life, Restoration, sidewalks, Tourism, Zoning | Leave a comment

P. Preservationist’s Endorsements

One of the odd things about being the P. Preservationist is the creation of a literary split personality.     Personally, I am a Conservative, and a Tea-Partier – and for those who know me individually; this can make for much confusion.      Especially when I am dealing with such a sensitive issue as politics.

For those who look at the world with black and white; politics is something to avoid.     In fact, too much immersion into its murky depths can actually destroy the soul.     That is why I always encourage engineers and scientists I meet to not get into politics – it is totally antithetical to their being. (And for that matter, I wouldn’t vote for someone who is an engineer or scientist – either they are bad engineers or scientists or they are bad politicians!)

 Thus, when I give out endorsements, I am not following a party-line or ideology (other than for the enhancement, promotion and protection of the City of Newburyport.)     With that very localized goal – I speak with confidence concerning the primary.

I endorse Senator Ives with great enthusiasm.     There was an editorial recently about why she should not to be re-elected.    By the time I was thru reading it, I knew definitely that this is a politician who is out looking for our back and one of those backs is business.    Yes, progressives have this odd determination to run every commercial enterprise either out of town, out of state or out of business.      Yet, without our eco-tourism, our heritage tourism, our industrial (and office) park and our basic working people; we would be in a very sorry situation and no manner of state largess could make up for the situation locally.     Senator Ives has wisely tempered her natural tendencies and mixed it with common sense and practicality and has done it with style.      

Now concerning the race for state representative, on the Republican side I see James Kelcourse.      No one is running against him.     But if they did, I’d vote for the other guy!     He is anti-CPA, hangs out with Frank Cousins who is anti-historic preservation and is determined to copy Frank’s tendency for backroom ‘deals’.     Thus you would never know where he stood and what conniving would be contemplated at any given moment.*

On the Democrat-side, I am strictly looking from a Newburyport angle and the obvious choice would be Ed Cameron.    Firmly seated in a party that is increasingly at odds with the rest of America and determined to resurrect the failed economic system of Communism; they have abandoned the Judeo-Christian ethic.      Republicans aren’t allowed to lie or steal or deceive; because they are supposed to follow a moral ethic.      Democrats reject it and thus are almost given a pass when they lie or steal or deceive.    

Saying all that, I am reminded of the scene in Pirates of the Caribbean when Captain Sparrow is confronted and accused of cheating by Will Turner and Sparrow simply responds emphatically, “Pirate”.     Well, when it comes to the Democratic Party determined to act like pirates, if I had to choose one, I’d choose Ed.      

He’s a ‘nice’ pirate (‘er Democrat)

-P. Preservationist

* Kelcourse may win this election thanks to the actions of the President and the G0overnor and the tax loving and splurging Democrats on Beacon Hill, but he will not be a knight in shining armor and more often will have a deft ear to those who wish to enhance and promote Newburyport.


Posted in Open Space | Leave a comment

Need some help!

We’ve got a situation here that I frankly don’t know how to handle unless we all pool together.       You see, we have a pair of golden eagles that have taken up shop in the new Business & Industry Park that is just off Parker Street and Graf Road. (This is the ‘old’ Lord Timothy Dexter Industrial Park in case you haven’t noticed the rather cold, professional new signage)

The Audubon Society refuses to acknowledge they exist.

In fact, they claim they are immature bald eagles.     Now, any one with some common sense knows that the latter are fish eagles while golden eagles love such things as rabbits and Canada geese.

If you persist, they then say that they are turkey vultures.

Last night in the early evening, I saw one of the pair right on top of the Back Bay across from the wind turbine.      His (or her) size dwarfed the typical vulture with a breathtaking wingspread enjoying the thermals.      They are much more aggressive and athletic than either bald eagles or turkey vultures.      In fact, I watched them do a mating dance in which they hooked into each other’s claws and swirled around plummeting to the ground and then breaking off and swooping up in the air.

Which is my problem.    I have tried repeatedly to get a picture and one moment they are just overhead and then with an effortless movement, they are 500 feet in the air.

Since I know many walk the Clipper City Rail Trail, and with the preponderous of cell phone cameras; I am asking everyone to chip in and get a picture.

Then they need to make that extra effort to contact the Audubon Society at Joppa Flats so a professional birder can come out and make an official confirmation.      Might as well call the Daily News in the hope that putting it in the paper of record will prompt some action.

In the meantime, come out and see these magnificent birds!    I have spotted them on the rail trail, Marches Hill, Back Bay, the Great Marsh and of course, the Common Pasture close to Hale Street.       I have no idea where they are nesting.

-P. Preservationist

The size and the head will help you identify them.

Here is the silhouette of a golden eagle:

Golden Eagle Silhouette

Here is the silhouette of a turkey vulture:

Turkey Vulture is similar

Posted in Eco-tourism, trails, Wildlife | 4 Comments

Newburyport is losing its culture

This last Friday, at the First Friday Friends Social, as Bill Plante was speaking about the D-Day Anniversary; he stopped for a moment and asked how many in the packed audience had been born in Newburyport.     

Scant ten individuals raised their hands.

The sad fact is that our population of Yeats is rapidly shrinking.     It is being replaced by newcomers attracted by our high quality of life and alluring real estate values.     There are many who come here and embrace our community and who, falling in love with Newburyport, want to retain the special culture that has been present for so many years.    But we are increasingly getting transients in the sense that they are here to enjoy the place and then will just as easily move on to the next place.      Some of them refuse to acknowledge the specialness of this Yankee City and many ridicule our culture.

So it has been very timely that Newburyport has adopted a cultural district designation for its downtown.      It gives us an opportunity for us to re-examine and hopefully preserve what makes the citizens of Newburyport, not just the buildings and landscapes, so special.

For those who want to get into the groove of our community, you need to go over some important behaviors, concepts and terms that are unique to our city.     

I have included a glossary that is very important to read and study.     

And when you begin to learn it, you’ll naturally start to embrace our history for so much of our culture is rooted in it.      That is why our two museums are so very important.     They give depth to our society and will also answer so many of the odd ‘mysteries’ of our place.

Don’t know it?     You better start because if you don’t you won’t even deserve the term, carpetbagger; you’ll just be a faceless ‘tourist’ who’s very actions are offensive and which will earn you closed doors and a feeling of being a stranger in a strange land.      

If you want to feel like you fit in, then learn the culture and the history and you will be amazed what gateways will open to you!

-P. Preservationist


Posted in Art & Culture, Education, Environment, Health and wellness, History, Landscapes, Quality of Life, Real Estate | 2 Comments

Stop the Shabbiness!

In the tourist industry as in any commercial venture; you’ve got competition – and it can get pretty intense.       To compete, you’ve got to have a great allure, but you’ve also dedicate to marketing and promoting.       And then,when you’ve finally have visitors; you’ve got to make sure it is such a memorable, pleasurable experience; they will not only return but will bring their friends and families.

Newburyport has buckets of allure, compressed and overflowing.       We’re still weak when it comes to marketing and promoting but I know that finally City Hall and the Chamber are uniting to get it done.        And we’ve got visitors.

But now we have to discard something that Newburyport has had for years – the shabby-sheek look.       That unkempt, rather worn-down appearance that is presented to our guests.       

The funny thing is, it’s not expensive to dispense with it!      Our sidewalks need to be swept and kept looking sharp, our curbs need to cleaned of debris, our trees need to be trimmed.    Our downtown shops need to stop thinking the city will take care of the front of their shops and sweep up the dirt and weed between the cracks.          

I think that one thing that would really sharpen the entire Newburyport Historic District would be to keep the weeds off the bricks and the cracks between cement surfaces.   Below is a fine example of a relatively non-toxic application that is easily identifiable and won’t terrify the EPA:

JBS Weedkiller Formula

Newburyport is filled with beautifully maintained yards and landscapes.      We need to extend that kind of impression to the sidewalks.       Literally, due to the way our state is setup; the DPS and the City can’t fully do the kind of maintenance that our historic areas demand.       

It is going to be every citizen’s job to make our city the kind of experience that guarantees that we have not just visitors but a whole train accompanying them.

-P. Preservationist


Posted in Businesses, Downtown, gardens, Health and wellness, Heritage Tourism, Landscapes, Maintenance, sidewalks, Streetscapes, Tourism | Leave a comment