NPT Refuses ‘Blood Money’

Tonight the ZBA will be discussing the Mayor’s mediation over 77 Lime Street.

You know the house.      The one that Mass Historic uses to show international visitors how not to preserve an historic house.

Well, the developer, ever outrageous, has decided to work with the Mayor by donating blood money.

I am proud that the Preservation Trust has refused this filthy lucre.

I think the developer has not paid enough for the embarrassment that this crowd has given to not just the South End; but to the entire city.

And it is obvious with the New Building Inspector; that they think they can just do this kind of offensive work again.

So, please show up tonight and let your input be heard!

-P. Preservationist

PS. Here is the Mayor’s letter.


Posted in Demolitions, Developers, Historic Demolitions, History, Preservation, Zoning | Leave a comment

Newburyport Returns to the Sea

As pretty as our city is, and our harbor packed with pleasure boats shine like a fine china on display; our harbor is regrettably still naked!

Tuxedo topIt’s like a tuxedoed man with pressed shirt, creased coat and a freshHairy legs shave and haircut looking fine until you look below the waste and see nothing but hairy legs and bare feet.

Pretty as can be but something is definitely missing!

Oh, Newburyport!      The birthplace of the Coast Guard and their revenue ships; the birthplace of the true, majestic Clipper Ship; home to more than a dozen shipbuilding facilities at one time; the port of call of hundreds of privateers in two wars; and our Yankee traders doing business in almost every port in the world!

What happened!?!

Clipper City, in spite of its name, turned its back away from the sea and turned to the riches of the Industrial Revolution.      Technology made it more reliable than the fickle profits and unpredictable weather of the ocean, the river and the dangerous entrance to our harbor.      This process of turning away started in the 19th century, gathered steam and roared into the twentieth century, only to find us impoverished and forgotten when the Industrial Revolution passed us by.

The city has since 1964 been reborn by commemorating our history, making us a highly desirable place to visit and to live here.

So, why is there no clipper ship moored at our docks to commemorate its birth here?     Why is there no shipbuilding facilities here for sailing vessels? Why is there no privateer ship moored with educational and entertainment based excursions?      Why is there no restored RCS Massachusetts anchored at the original revenue ship’s home across from the Custom House?

We are still naked from the waist down – and it is rather embarrassing.

But now for a brief moment, or at least for two weeks, Newburyport will be returning to the sea!  The Custom House is planning on this event annually.

El galeonFirst, the El Galeon Andalucia will be here for the new annual Maritime Day sponsored by the Custom House and its many supporters.       It’s American base most appropriately is St. Augustine in Florida, the oldest colony in North America and founded by the Spanish, here is the information page, and I encourage everyone to watch this video which gives a good description in English of the ship’s capabilities and place in history.      The Custom House will be hosting public tours ($10/person) and many special events from Wednesday to Monday.      Please check their website for details.         I especially encourage, if you can be available; to watch the El Galeon enter our harbor Wednesday afternoon from 2:00 onward.       This will be the moment that Newburyport returns to the sea.

LynxSecond, the Lowell Boat Shop will be sponsoring the arrival of the Lynx, a privateer ship from the War of 1812.        Newburyport sent out many of these built right here and to honor their construction and the fame of Amesbury, Newbury, Newburyport and Salisbury’s ship yards; and the captains who sailed them valiantly; it will be moored at the Newburyport waterfront from June 2nd to June 6th.      I invite you to see this video to catch the importance of having a privateer return to our area responsible for so many built here!    Tours will be $5/person.

Hopefully, one day; with these inspirations to motivate; Newburyport can be a finely suited man….and put its pants and shoes on!

-P. Preservationist



Posted in Art & Culture, Businesses, Economics, Education, Entertainment, Heritage Tourism, History, Recreation, Restoration, Tourism, Tours, Waterfront | 3 Comments

Where’s a town crier when you need one!?!

We need to get everyone out to the joint Planning Board and Council of the Whole meeting, Wednesday night in the city council chambers.           If you can’t make it, send e-mails to the members of the Planning Board and City Council.

If you want to know the urgency, check out this link.

If you don’t stand up; think about all the times you were tempted to storm into the Mayor’s office screaming about a twisted ankle; or the disgraceful appearance of the sidewalks in your neighborhood.

Think about all the calls and angry e-mails over the years sent off to your ward councilor; and the frustration of getting a rather weak response; or no response or the sad, growing reality that nothing is and will get done.

We’re talking about yet another measure by which we can achieve for Newburyport, one of the most walkable cities in America; actually becoming a walkable city.

I for one, am tired of the deplorable state of our sidewalks.       The biggest being that we are consistently violating the American Disabilities Act by having inconsistent surfaces in our city.     You can see blacktop (done by a selfish homeowner illegally), blacktop (because the city got cheap), brick, wavy brick, cobblestone (Yeah, imagine a wheelchair over that!), crumbled concrete, concrete slabs pointing into the air (did we have an earthquake at some point?),  and everyone’s favorite the sidewalk uprooted by a street tree.

By the way, this present city council is doing a bang up job.      They adopted sidewalk standards for the first time in the town’s 247 year history!      They put in a new measure that brick sidewalks ARE THE PREFERRED SURFACE WITHIN THE NEWBURYPORT HISTORIC DISTRICT and concrete for the rest of the city.    That when money’s tight, concrete can be the option and have banished blacktop and cobblestone to the far reaches of the city.


And what of Mayor “Bulldozer” Holaday?      In reckless fashion, she has pushed the DPS to lay down brick and concrete all over the city, street after street, neighborhood after neighborhood  until the money ran out, of course.

So why so important for tomorrow night?      Because the developers have money at stake.     They don’t realize that these new rules, though initially out of pocket will enhance their investment by enhancing the entire city – therefore adding profit for their asking prices.       But you’ll always have short-sighted business people who can only see their short-term expenses.

They’ll be sending people into this meeting disguised as concerned homeowners who, “just want to help the city” – or cry, “This will drive away business”.       I highly doubt such absurdity. (As the Daily News just noted, our real estate is crazy now with the average single-family home at well over $500,000.      That’s an average!!!!!!

So, we need to counter-act the “wolves in homeowner’s clothing”.

Stop being frustrated, and send those e-mails and if you can, SHOW UP!

-P. Preservationist



Posted in Businesses, Developers, Economics, Heritage Tourism, History, Infrastructure, News and politics, Planning, Quality of Life, sidewalks, Streetscapes, Trees, Zoning | Leave a comment

One more thing to stop the damage.

Tonight the primary thrust of the Committee of the Whole and the Planning board will be to tighten the building inspector’s record keeping and due diligence.      Just one more attempt to try to stop the boom town ‘slap-anything-together-and-sell-it-at-inflated prices’ that we are suffering under at this moment.

To heap insult upon injury, developers, local and not-local have had a wonderful (for them) run doing whatever they feel like when it comes to the final product.

For years, when Newburyport was in the same socio-economic level as Inner City Lawrence; people in the neighborhoods would gush and rejoice over the fact that anyone would even dare do something in this downtrodden city.     The volunteer boards and commissions would look the other way, the building inspector would wink his eye; and the utility inspectors would reach out their hands…..and a tongue and cheek atmosphere would make everything legal.

But Newburyport is no longer in that state.

And apparently the regional reputation of the Old Newburyport is still around because many developers (the locals out of habit) and the outsiders (by word-of-mouth) think they can play the same old games.      Perhaps a few are looking for those handy  and infamous off-shore accounts that always seemed to ‘lubricate’ the permitting process.

Either way, Newburyport is no longer in that state.

Tonight will be another opportunity to send a strong message that the party is over, the games are done and serious, professional behavior is expected in this now, world class city.

These ordinances won’t absolutely stop the shenanigans but it will spread the word that the Mayor, the city councilors and the building department are on the alert to squash these old ways of doing things.      With these on the books, local citizens can relay violations and there won’t be a response of city officials shrugging their shoulders helplessly.

It will be tight in the City Council Chambers this evening but the councilors need to know you are behind them and the Mayor needs to know too.

I assure, the developers, disguised as local residences, or actually local residents used to a hand in the pot; will be there too!

-P. Preservationist

PS. For those who are new to the city – try not to make yourself foolish by trying to counter my statements.      Research the ‘old Newburyport’ before you put your foot in your mouth!





Posted in Architecture, Businesses, Craftsmen, Developers, Economics, History, News and politics, Preservation | Leave a comment

Cramming it all in!

The Month of May is turning into a whirlwind of activities in the city.      The best thing to do is make a schedule of all the events and pick and choose how many can be attended.

It always amazes me to hear someone complain, “There is just nothing to do in Newburyport.”      That’s the typical response one would hear out of a teenager, usually preceded by an exhale and the plaintiff, “I’m bored”.

In truth, depends on what  you consider exciting and it also reflects someone with a lack of imagination.      This town is crammed in cultural, ecological, historical, intellectual, literary and musical resources.    And I mean crammed.

But May is hot with diversity.      In particular, the Custom House is bursting forth with activities that join culture, history, music and a child-like sense of wonder in their upcoming Maritime Days.      This week long event is something not to miss and should be similar to the time when we had the H.M.S. Bounty, but even more so!

And of course, the Newburyport Preservation Trust will be doing another kick-ass (excuse my enthusiasm!) stretch with Preservation Week.      We’ve all seen the CPA rejuvenate our places of worship from the Belleville, Old South and St. Paul’s but now we all gaze in wonder as the Steeple is finalized at the First Religious Society of Newburyport.    That particular Steeple is often the Motif Number One for our city and it will only benefit our city more when fully restored.      Regardless of the fact that Theophilus Parsons, who attend here, advocated and contributed three of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights and was the first to coin the phrase, ‘Bill of Rights’;this church is full of history.

As for all the religious assemblies, whether an organ recital, or a tour – try to squeeze in as many activities as possible to see all these sacred places.

For those who want to get back to nature and love our parks; there is a fundraiser this Saturday evening for the important Newburyport Parks Conservancy followed by the Saturday on the 21st of Operation Clean Sweep.     Nothing is more fulfilling than making our great parks sparkle with some elbow grease!

And to be fair, there are 5K runs, Historical events at the Cushing House, Art at the NAA, Strut-for-Stray on the 22nd for the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society, plays, shows and so many musical events at our many restaurants that it literally is our cultural fountain that keeps the Newburyport Daily News, The Current and the Town Common alive!

So, if you lack imagination; you must cast off laziness and do some digging online and in the local papers!

As I have already suggested:    List every event and then decide what you can attend, and weep at those you must miss!

Not participating is being absolutely left out on these kind of events which truly will not be repeated.

At least not in the form they take this year!

-P. Preservationist



Posted in Art & Culture, CPA, Downtown, Eco-tourism, Heritage Tourism, History, Organizations, Parks, Planning, Preservation, Preservation History, Tourism, Tours | Leave a comment

Volunteer and make your heart sing!

This weekend, there will be excellent opportunities for volunteer work around the city.

This Saturday, April 30th, clean up crews are needed to make Atwood Park to sparkle in the South End.      Your requirement?     Show up in the morning and get to work.

Also this same day, work crews are needed at our various rail trails.      Depending on what city you live in or perhaps you have a favorite one that you would love to see at its best; this area is blessed with an entire regional network and it is getting more connected and more of them all the time.       Each one is a symbol of the high quality of life that we have on this area at the mouth of the Merrimack.

Pick one and prepare to pick up human detritus (trash); and if you bring your own equipment be sure to label it so you can get it back.

Volunteering is an amazing thing –  It makes you deeply invested in how things are kept up and best of all, it makes you care.    No money is transacted as payment but the feeling one gets seeing your community shine and knowing visitors are seeing the region at its best; gives you a hundred fold payment in an honorable pride in your town or city.

Our DPW’s in the region work hard but they are constantly frustrated by the fact they can’t do the very best because of limited manpower, time and resources.

Getting a host of volunteers to swoop down on a trouble spot is to a DPW worker; like that joy of finally reaching that nagging itch that was just beyond reach.

Why, volunteering just about makes everyone happy.

-P. Preservationist

PS. But no one is happy if no one shows up!

Posted in Environment, Health and wellness, Infrastructure, Landscapes, Maintenance, Parks, Quality of Life, trails | Leave a comment

Continued (what a surprise)

The next hearing is May 10th for 15 Howard Street.

Plenty of time to show a parade of streetscapes all over the Newburyport Historic District that reflect our city.

It actually shows that we are an extremely healthy community with the rich and the poor and the working poor (and middle class) mingling together without segregation and as neighbor’s not adversaries.

No rich trying to seal themselves off from the ‘unwashed’.

No slums – no isolated ethnic communities.

Yes, even Communists, Libertarians and Conservatives rubbing shoulders without violence.

And yet – the drive by tax-hungry government and exploiting developers is to drive out the non-well to do and cast them out of the city. (or cram them into subsidized housing rubbing shoulders with sex offenders, drug dealers and various forms of as the Bible calls them, Lower Baser Sorts.)

Be sure to be back on May 10th!

-P. Preservationist

Posted in Open Space | Leave a comment