Repairing what’s broken

Awhile back I wrote a blog chronicling two terrible crimes that were committed during the twentieth century.        As I wrote,

 As an ancient seaport, many over the years have created trusts that were committed to the City for a particular purpose.    It could be beautification, or to benefit the library or to finance the care of a park.    Some were dedicated to educating the students with scholarships.        They were supposed to be taken care of, allowed to accrue with interest to enrich the City’s care and they were to follow the wishes of the original benefactor.         This last intent is written into Massachusetts General Law.      

But instead of being taken care of, most of the money was not re-invested, and worse, the original wishes (quite illegally) were not honored.     For example, John Bromfield gave $10,000 to the City to take care of the street trees and sidewalks.      He also gave to many other charitable organizations in the State.     He gave $25,000 to the Boston Athenaeum at the same time and with proper care it is now $7,000,000 plus.    What about the money given to the City?   It is a miserable $100,000.    Worse, much of the Trusts’ interests were dumped into the general fund.   And, many organizations and city departments are cut off from access.  For example the Moseley Woods Commission has no access to the Moseley Woods Trust Fund!      Some 47 trust funds, many languishing and abused sat for years neglected.       

Gertrude O’Brien, Treasurer in the 1990’s took action to begin an interest-bearing program with these funds but the whole arrangement was still in violation of the M.G.L.    It hasn’t been until Mayor Holaday in this century decided that it was time to finally ‘fix’ the problem.”

Well, now we have things under control but the city is supposed to be able to use these funds for much needed revenue.         It will be the challenge of the newly reconstituted Trust Fund Commission to get these funds on the right track:   Generating interest income to pump them up; and determining a percentage available to aide the city.

Big tasks!

So, I thought it would be great to list for everyone, this ancient city’s list of bequethed funds and the original intended desire of the bequester! (Some obviously can’t be fully observed in today’s society)(Mixed in are specific funds that are maintained by the city (not inherited) but are still carefully monitored by the Trust Fund Commission)

The Library:
EMMA ANDREWS SO END READING ROOM
J.M. BRADBURY GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
C.W. BRADSTREET GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
W.O. COFFIN BOOKS FOR LIBRARY
LUCY B. COLBY REPLACEMENT OF OLD BOOKS
CHARLOTTE COLE SUPT. OF READING ROOM
JOHN J. CURRIER NBPT. & NBY BOOKS
JOHN N. CUSHING PUBLIC LIBRARY PURCHASE
A.E. CUTTER GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
NATHAN D. DODGE BOOKS FOR LIBRARY
W.H.P. DODGE BOOKS & PAPERS FOR LIB
SUSAN DONNELL GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
DANIEL FOSTER BOOKS FOR LIBRARY
J.A. FROTHINGHAM BOOKS FOR LIBRARY
SARAH GREEN BOOKS FOR LIBRARY
GEORGE HASKELL BOOKS FOR LIBRARY
LAURENCE HAYWARD CHRISTMAS GIFTS LIB. EMPL.
CHARLES HALL LIBRARY TRAVEL
DR.THOMAS HEALEY MEDICAL BOOKS
S.W. MARSTON GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
GRACE C. MOODY PUBLIC LIBRARY
E.S. MOSELEY GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
W.O. MOSELEY GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
ALICE MOULTON AS TREAS.OF LIB.DIRECTS
HARLAN NOYES LIBRARY
ETHEL PARTON CHILDRENS BOOKS
PAUL PATHE PUBLIC LIBRARY
GEO.PETTINGELL 1/2 TO SO.END R.ROOM
GEO.PETTINGELL 1/2 TO PUBLIC LIBRARY
GRACE PETTINGELL SO.END READING ROOM
MATTHEW SAWYER BOOKS FOR LIBRARY
MARGARET SAVAGE LIBRARY
SO.END READ. ROOM BRANCH LIBRARY
SO.END READ. ROOM BRANCH LIBRARY
J.R. SPRING BOOKS FOR LIBRARY
E.H. STICKNEY GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
EBEN STONE GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
BENJAMIN SWEETSER GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
WILLIAM TODD READING ROOM
ANNIE WIGHTMAN PUB.LIBRARY READ.ROOM
A.WILLIAM BOOKS FOR LIBRARY
PAUL S.& ANNA WALCOTT LIBRARY ENDOWMENT
PAUL S. & ANNA WALCOTT LIBRARY ENDOWMENT
PAUL S. & ANNA WALCOTT LIBRARY ENDOWMENT
PAUL S. & ANNA WALCOTT LIBRARY ENDOWMENT
RUTH SIROIS&P.WALCOTT GENERAL USE OF LIBRARY
CLARA COLLIS LIBRARY*
LEBMAN FUND LIBRARY
Charity:
L.M. FOLLANSBEE POOR
MARGARET ATWOOD POOR & RELIGIOUS
ANNIE D. DAVIS AGED LADIES
TIMOTHY DEXTER POOR
WILLIAM HORTON AGED & NEEDY OF NBPT
Sidewalk & Trees:
JOHN BROMFIELD SIDEWALK & TREES
CITY OF NEWBURYPORT MAINTENANCE SIDEWALKS
Parks:
BALCH FUND BARTLETT MALL
CITY OF NEWBURYPORT MAINTENANCE PARKS
A.M. GORWAIZ ATKINSON COMMON
CHARLES KNIGHT ATKINSON COMMON
CHAS. W. MOSELEY MOSELEY PINES
HERMAN ROY BEAUTIFY WATERFRONT*
Cemetaries:
HIGHLAND CEMETARY CEMETARY
VARIOUS CEMETARY FDS CEMETARIES
Schools:
MOSES BROWN SCHOOLS
CALEB CUSHING BOOKS FOR NHS SENIOR
EDITH KENDALL  SCHOOL-SCIENCE
EDITH KENDALL SCHOOL-MEDICAL
PAUL A. MERRILL SCHOOL PRIZE
DONALD SAFFORD SCHOLARSHIPS
R.H. TOPPAN SCHOOL PRIZE
Miscellaneous:
M.H. SIMPSON SPRINKLING STREETS
A.G. CUTTER BEAUTIFYING CITY
MUNICIPAL BLDGS REPLACE LOSS BY FIRE*

As the years progress over the responsible oversight of the commission and the city’s treasurer; we may yet see a healthy income from these funds!

-P. Preservationist
http://www.ppreservationist.com

* Interest income added to principle.

 

Posted in Economics, Education, finances, History, Infrastructure, News and politics, Organizations, Parks | Leave a comment

Killing the Golden Goose

Golden GooseIt’s a simple fact – unlike other communities, Newburyport receives a huge amount of tax revenue (86% or more) from its residential neighborhoods.          Normally, this would be disastrous for the typical American city.         For every house in a typical town, four times the revenue must be generated in infrastructure and services.     In contrast, every time a business is established, in particular manufacturing or office-oriented (or medical); three to four times more revenue is added to a community.

But Newburyport is unlike the typical American city.

Our long ago built historic neighborhoods create a stable, consistent resource for tax revenue.     In addition, the heightened value of our rare (8.3%) historical homes; jumps up radically the amount of equity, property value, and eventual tax revenue generated.

But City Hall (the Mayor and the Building Department and the ZBA) increasingly see this golden goose can be fleeced by demolishing and gutting them to generate a fountain of Killing the golden goose‘free cash’ on the books.       But eventually they are going to run out of the golden geese and be left with typical, over-priced new construction that doesn’t last, and, when the looting is finished, and the boon has busted, it will all start to unravel and lose value.

Thanks to Councilor Eigerman (and the majority of city councilors) an attempt was made through the DCD, and the DCOD to stop the loss of our historic neighborhoods.      But the bankers, the demo-lawyers and developers have found more loopholes.         So, in an attempt again to try to slow this destruction; an ordinance has been introduced anew.

On Monday, the Council will consider rewording the definition of “two-family” and “multifamily” uses in our zoning ordinance.  Worked out carefully with the Planning Board and Councillors Cameron and Connell, the new wording will ensure that all new multi-family buildings are really _single_ buildings, rather than multiple buildings on one lot.

Again, on Monday, June 29, 2015, the city council will need to have 8 out of 11 votes to pass to close a harmful loophole in our Zoning Ordinance, by rewording the definition of two-family and multifamily uses.  The proposed amendment would ensure that a building is really a “building,” and not a trick to build multiple buildings on a single lot without following the normal rules.

If we are to stop the slaughter of our golden goose, we need everyone to voice their support of this ordinance, write to their councilors and show up in golden goose eggperson at the city council meeting.        All three are needed to counteract the developers, the lawyers and the bankers who want to kill our historic neighborhoods.

We need to e-mail to the city councilors to support this ordinance:

thomasobrien11@aol.com; heartquist@gmail.com; croninward3@gmail.com; tontar44@comcast.net; larrygiunta12@gmail.com; edcameronNBPT@gmail.com; envirocom@comcast.net ; ariherzog@gmail.com; kinseynewburyport@gmail.com; bruce@vogelatlarge.com

And, to show up at the city council meeting to voice our support:

Appear and speak in person at the very beginning of our public hearing on Monday night, starting at 7:30 pm.   Sign up on the clipboard at the city council chamber entrance door.     When you come up and speak , you only need to state your name and address, and say that you support the ordinance.     Anything else is extra gravy if you wish.

If they decide to delay this emergency ordinance (heaven forbid); you may have to write letters later to the editor and spread the word on social media via blogs, Facebook and Twitter (and any other means).

It is truly, little sacrifice in effort, in order to preserve our cherished quality of life!

Please take the time.

-P. Preservationist
http://www.ppreservationist.com

golden_goose destroyed

Posted in Demolitions, Developers, Economics, Education, Health and wellness, News and politics, Planning, Preservation, Quality of Life, Taxes, Zoning | 1 Comment

Tunnels: X marks the spot

Tunnels - the approach

In my last post on tunnels; I posed one of the questions I would like to know answered, “How deep are the tunnels?”      Well, I took a GPS to the Oak Hill Cemetery and on the flat top of the former Maid Hill Cemetery section; I received a reading of 83 feet above sea level.         I went down to the lowest lane that issues out directly to State Street. (It is presently blocked by the Water Department Building), and travelled to several mausoleums along the path.

Smuggler's path to the westTo tunnels - Question Mark

Mausoleum with no nameFrom this point down to the pond, it is precipitous.        So even if it is not behind one of these mausoleum doors; the likelihood is that it isn’t any lower.        There I received a reading of 68 feet.      So approximately the depth of the tunnel is around 15 feet below the surface.     I took a picture of what height that would be by showing this tree where 15 feet up is where the 2nd fork in the branches is clearly seen.

15 Feet comparison

Now for the subject of the bottleneck which I proposed in the earlier post.        If you see this picture, it would be easy for the tunnel to run under the lawn of the Ellen T. Brown Chapel.   Yard Path The GP radar would probably miss locating it.     So no matter how you look at it, it must be beneath the roadbed of the approaching lane to the Zombie Gate (Tappan Gate).       To the east the land drops away precipitously and to the west, State street lies far below with even the back yard of the house right up against the roadbed.

Sharp lowland to the west Sharp lowlands to the east

After seeing the right and left side of the lane; I have determined that the best point to use the Ground Penetrating Radar is right between two large trees.

X MARKS THE SPOT.Tunnels - the bottleneck

Later, if the radar (if it can be obtained) does detect the presence of the tunnel; we will need to find out if this is a private road owned by the cemetery association or by the City of Newburyport.     Then comes trying to figure out how we can obtain permission for a dig.

But I don’t want to get too far ahead in planning.

It will be devastating enough if it turns out the radar indicates there is nothing present!

-P. Preservationist
http://www.ppreservationist.com

Posted in Archeology, Education, History, Landscapes, Planning | 3 Comments

Newburyport’s Fiscal 2016 Budget Summit, and an extra goody.

City Seal

The City Council’s Summit on the Fiscal 2016 Budget

These last ten days, for the first time in Newburyport’s history (as far as I know), the hearings for the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget were aired ‘live’, they have been broadcast on a regular cycle on PortMedia and have been made available on the Internet for all to review until the budget is passed by the end of this month.

This first video below initially seemed a waste of time since it was a long list of free-cash transfers being approved; but it turned into dynamite as controversial issues were discussed: One, the transfer of money to repair the culvert underneath and in front of the proposed Ale House and discussion with the Human Resources Director over insurance payments (some for dead people possibly)

June 23rd Pre-Budget Hearing: (http://youtu.be/Visn4LFjNMA)

This video below was the presentation by all city councilors of their items proposed for cutting in the budget and the discussion if it should be done or not; the main goal was to free up cash so the school committee’s budget could be augmented. (They are often burdened by unfunded mandates by the state and any freed up cash could potentially be used to balance their books.)

June 23rd Budget Summit:   (http://youtu.be/E0G2obL4JoY)

If you have cable, you can also catch it on Channel Nine through PortMedia for the next 10 days as the budget is considered!   Here is the schedule.

After seeing these videos; please send to the Mayor and the city councilors your thoughts – especially as they are seeking items to cut or trim down in the budget. 

The City Council will vote on the budget on June 29. 

Your input will be received gratefully!

-P. Preservationist
http://www.cebport.org

PS. I normally would put them on the Citizens for Environmental Balance website, but there is no time!      So I hope everyone can catch these presentations before the budget is finalized!

 

Posted in Economics, Education, finances, News and politics, Planning, schools, Sewage, Taxes | Leave a comment

Speaking of the Museum of Old Newbury

Following up on my recent blog, ???????????? History????????????????; I wanted to talk about the Historical Society of Old Newbury now recently renamed, The Museum of Old Newbury.      I was a member for a while, until I found out a very disturbing situation.

You see, if you look at the mission statement of the Museum, you will see a very distinctive line, advocating historic preservation:

“The Museum of Old Newbury preserves and interprets the history of “Old Newbury, “which includes Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from settlement to the present.

The Museum carries out its mission in part through the ownership and operation of the Cushing House Museum, the Perkins Engraving Plant, and other historic structures on the Cushing House grounds. The Museum furthers its purpose through lectures, exhibitions, educational programs, school tours, publications, a research library, and cooperation with area groups interested in local history.

The Museum of Old Newbury seeks to share historical information to broaden knowledge and appreciation of the past, address historic preservation in the present, and provide a foundation for the future.”

And they certainly did!     The Society formed a powerful subcommittee and were at the forefront of preserving our downtown and were largely responsible for moving the entire city into its enviable affluent position today.        They resisted the Daily News, the dark siders and their allies as they pushed for the destruction of the downtown; and we can all be thankful today for what they achieved.

But one of the most effective ways to destroy an organization is to infiltrate it, neutralize its effect and hopefully strangle it out of existence.          Developers joined the organization in the hopes of cancelling out their effectiveness knowing that a cash-strapped non-profit couldn’t resist the lure of filthy lucre.         The developers became so infiltrated, they took over powerful positions in the Museum.

But these weren’t good developers who want to renovate/restore historic structures to enhance our historic city; these were quick profit-driven developers who tend to trash old houses, demolish them, gut them, with the aim of turning Newburyport into a faux history tourist trap with overpriced new housing with a fake antique petina.

To accomplish this, they began to instill the idea that Newburyport is not an historically significant town.     The theme, “There is nothing especially unique about our city” has been repeatedly highlighted in the paper of record, therefore justifying the destruction of our historic architecture and our historic neighborhoods.        For those developers who had infiltrated the museum; the job was clear.      Make sure significant events about Newburyport are buried, real deep; and bring out the melancholy of history; and celebrate ‘history’ that in the long run doesn’t really have anything to do with today’s challenges, the future or anything significant about Newburyport.

Well, this worked for a while but they forgot to send a memo to the Custom House Maritime Museum and to the P.Preservationist and to the Preservation Trust.     They even forgot to send the memo to Ghlee Woodworth (Clipper Heritage Trail fame); though the Chamber and the City have been largely very accommodating.

Now the Custom House is growing like gangbusters and the Cushing Museum is shrinking.    I wonder why? (sarc.)     This isn’t about money – it’s about people getting frustrated and getting wise to the policy.    It isn’t the funds:  the Custom House has a joke for an endowment and the Museum of Old Newbury has a huge endowment.

I’m keeping a close eye on the Cushing House – will the new director, Susan Edwards, resist the developers influence and rebuild the museum or will they win out and continue to be a hindrance, yes, even an obstacle to saving our city?       Will the museum begin to show the uniqueness of Newburyport or will they have events that continue to point away from our past.     Will they take back up the mantle of historic preservation, or will they take their cues from the gutting experts who trash our priceless architecture?

I am watching them closely and I do see some positive signs; though it is not being herald on their main website, a new exhibit that actually talks about Newburyport, called,  “From High Seas to Safe Harbors,” whcih chronicles Newburyport’s seafaring past.        Maybe this will be a good start – they might talk about great men and women who lived in Newburyport and achieved great things.      They might even talk about our houses and the history behind them. (I know. I’m pushing things.)

Until the developers on their board, rear their vindictive heads and veto the effort; I invite you to come and visit this new exhbit.      Tours run from 10-4 Wednesdays-Fridays and 12-4 Saturdays and Sundays; last tour begins at 4pm.

It is a great organization and the city needs them to do well.    I will be re-joining the organization and will promote them when they officially chase out or at least neutralize the evil influence of the ‘infiltrators’.

-P. Preservationist
http://www.ppreservationist.com

Posted in Open Space | Leave a comment

????????????????? History ???????????????????

Cobwebs and books IIIMaybe they just didn’t know where to start.      Or, because it looked like a ponderous amount of genealogies and tedious historical statistics; they figured they’d just stab at it.     Somebody had to do it.

Or, as is popular in the Daily News, recently; the ramblings of old memories bring out the sentimental feelings of the ‘Good Old Days'; all taken from the perspective of first-hand accounts.

All this historical mush reminds me of a movie recently by a Hollywood producer.     The heroes and heroines are caught in an urban center in which they are not all knowing (a satisfying but not realistic movie assumption)and their actions are more often than not make no significant difference. (Another of those satisfying but not realistic movie-

assumptions) against some dangerous enemy that is destroying the city of which they have no knowledge of what or who it is.      This type of device has never really caught on at the local cinema.     You end up feeling as frustrated as the characters and you get a nasty headache like looking at the world through a long telescope.        You come out of the theater asking yourself, “What’s going on?”   Why doesn’t the movie fill in the blanks?”      “How does it all end?”

Too much like real life.        Why watch it when we’re already living it?

So what am I talking about here?      I want to hear and see more about,

All the cool history about Newburyport.

“Cool” as in exciting, romantic, significant and of National importance.        Things that make the ear tingle, challenge the mind, and aspire others to match these historical events with even greater achievements.

And what do we do to satisfy that thirst?      We send in the Historians.         Yeah, these droll ‘experts’ who get excited over chronicling the every day experience of some every day person in some ordinary place in the Newburies!

I’ve got to stop here.    Just thinking about it gives me a headache!    I’m leaving off to fetch a couple of aspirin……

……we have huge piles of data located in three locations: the archives at the Newburyport Public Library, the archives at the Cushing House and the archives at the Custom House.       On top of that are the hidden records in the hundreds of historic houses in the region.

And what do we do?      We have to learn about Uncle Ernie’s daily life? (No offense to those who actually have an Uncle Ernie.    He was probably a fine fellow! But what significance is his life to mine, or the state or the region or to the world?)

What benefit will we acquire learning about Uncle Ernie?     What significant achievement or event occurred because of his existence?        What can we learn from him that will challenge or inspire us?      And how did his actions change the world for the better or for the worse?     And what makes Uncle Ernie amongst all the peoples of the world so damn important that we need to learn about him?

Michael Mroz at the Custom House is not an historian; he is charged with running a museum; but he has the instincts that have been so lacking for a long time here in Newburyport.

“What makes our city so special and so unique?

Our visitors can feel it in the air.     Our eyes can give us hints.      Our senses ring it out but without an answer.

He has been working with the curator, Kevin MacDonald; to excite, inspire and reveal our past history and he has just started the process.       The recent First Friday Friends Social might initially get people to come for the food and the wine; but the real excitement comes from the exciting talks as one historical event of Newburyport is revealed month by month.    And on top of that draw are the maritime exhibits that bring out history that excites the hearer.

But the Custom House is about our maritime history.      What about the other events and people not connected directly to the sea?      The Cushing House has amazing artifacts, biographies and records that need to be mined like digging for diamonds, emeralds and gold.        Susan Edwards, the new Executive Director is now sitting on a pile of records that need to be thoroughly examined and revealed – to show that all these artifacts are significant and important to the city, to the Commonwealth and to the Nation.

The Custom House hasn’t even scratched the surface choosing to focus on one or two partitions of our long history; there is far more to be revealed!    They’ve just gotten started.    And what about the Cushing House – will they sit on these exciting sources and fail to reveal them?

As an amateur, I have dug around in these archives and have found eye-popping, nationally-significant events and people.       Can you imagine what will be revealed when professionals take the focus  away from the drudgery of endless history, to reveal to all how Newburyport is one beautiful, powerful and unique place!

I can’t wait to hear!       And I bet you can’t wait either!

Support our museums as they pursue this important process!

-P. Preservationist
http://www.ppreservationist.com

“People want to learn from history; that’s what we do as a society,”

-Jay Williamson, former curator at the Museum of Old Newbury

Posted in Archeology, Art & Culture, Education, Entertainment, Heritage Tourism, History, Organizations, Preservation, Recreation, Tourism | 2 Comments

The Daily News – Home of the Dark Siders

Frankly, don’t blame our city reporter.       He’s been given the pro-developer line to champion.       To keep his job, we won’t be seeing in the next year; any favorable comments that speak for taxpayers who are seeing their equity, their property values and their quality of life go down the drain.

A select group of developers and the support structure for their efforts (banks, City Hall, lawyers, realtors, etc.) stand to profit big time.        Who cares about the 86% who support City Hall with their taxes?        Who cares about the extreme desirability of our real estate due to our historic neighborhoods?

These don’t matter apparently.

Like I say, it’s not his fault.       Many a journalist catches it on the chin, when obviously biased reporting is made; he’s just following his editor’s lead.       Besides, if you labor on an article, and because your boss doesn’t like it, it never sees the light of day; that is your precious time lost.

So, don’t waste your time when you see his comments in the ‘paper’.      He’s been bought and sold.        Focus on the real news generators who can be found on local blogs, on Facebook, our local cable channels, and that new local entity, https://newburyportsouthend.nextdoor.com.

I still enjoy the Daily News as the paper of record; but always keep in mind; most of what is going on in the city will go unreported.      Seek multiple sources so you can become a well-rounded, fully-informed citizen.

We all locally need news, we just don’t need the propaganda.

-P. Preservationist
http://www.ppreservationist.com

PS.  This from a paper that sits in a cinder-block building next to an ugly strip mall, facing the ugliest street in the city. (Liberty)    I don’t think equity, property values or quality of life issues are of any priority to them!

Posted in Open Space | Leave a comment