Time for an update

An increasing number of readers are depending on my blog to find out what is really going on in the city.       That can generate some disappointment as I am committed to posting information only when research and links back up what I am saying; and there are often cases where it is inappropriate to say anything, though I am fully informed on what is going on.     I am very thankful for the other blog sites that post (which I link to) and many other Facebook pages that attempt to monitor the pulse of the city.      I am very appreciative that Ari’s Newburyport Commons has really taken off.       Unfortunately, it is very disheartening that in that format; people’s biases and ill-informed opinions are awash.    To avoid being distracted by lies and propaganda – I do my best not to read the comments on Daily News articles and on Facebook pages that relate to the city and I do my best to delete emotional and personal comments on my own blog.

Regardless of the downside, it is exciting to see our community acting like, well, a community!       Too many years, large sectors of our city felt isolated – some of it was on purpose (John Marquand fought an insular culture here in the early twentieth century) and others just by a series of unfortunate circumstances. (Like Boston commuters never subscribing to the local papers.)

Here is what is going on presently. (Excluding Plum Island, that the Daily News is covering quite excellently.)

The new Master Plan is stalled unless we can get more input.     10% of the citizens have responded, which on a national level is typical for a survey – but the Mayor and the Steering Committee want this to be a living document.      That’s not going to happen unless more community participation is generated.      Fill out the survey, folks, and get your neighbors to fill out the survey!

The re-zoning which was much trumpeted by the Mayor is right now going no where.     That doesn’t mean it won’t come out of hiding with a phony deadline; but it is not to be seen.      That means segmented zoning issues are what we will continue to be handling for some time – 40R, back-bay re-zoning, DOD, DCOD, First Republic’s Overlay District and the biggy, WWOD.        Talk about keeping us busy!

Clipper City Rail Trail, Phase II.   Regardless of past downers; the Clipper City Rail Trail has been a smashing success and largely paid for by our ‘other’ back wallet: state and federal tax monies.     It’s still our money and I am very pleased we get to see it back in town.    Well, that wallet is primed to release a lot of our cash back our way for the Clipper City Rail Trail, Phase II.    But Newburyport has to pony up a small amount comparatively for the design phase.     We have it through the other tax, CPA, but more was needed.     Thanks to the foresight of our City Council, that missing chunk has been transferred out of our free cash fund and it looks like August is slated to begin the first step toward the reality of a huge loop of bike trail around Joppa, the South End, March’s Hill and the Waterfront.      Talk about jumping up our city’s property values, and our quality of life!       It will be very exciting to see it unfolding.

The Protection of the Common Pasture.     The Daily News‘ fine articles today on the historical floods clearly warns us to take the specter of a flood as a threat today.       We need to stop hearing from NAID’ers and dark siders who blatantly refuse to take it seriously.      Thankfully, the Strategic Land Use Committee’s report, the city’s new Wetlands Ordinance and state & federal regulations; are all committed to minimizing the damaging affects that could threaten our industrial park and residents downstream and the health of the Common Pasture and the Great Marsh.      The cause of this potential devastation is a large bowl surrounding the upper Little River.  The following measures of protection have been done to make sure it is not covered in impervious surfaces.  First, was the preservation of the open space around the abandoned Route 95 land, Second,  came the acquisition of the Cooper North Pasture Area. Third were some parcels out in the Common Pasture.   Fourth, a large tract of land owned by Oleo Woods.     Still in the process but coming shorty will be a large tract of agricultural/wetlands behind the Tropic Star CVS development.      And finally, and still going through a long, arduous, process will be the preservation of the Colby Farm lots in and around the Landfill.      There are more properties that need protecting but these are a good start.

 The Parking Garage and the WWOD.     Regardless of what Newburyport Development and it’s parent company, New England Development may appear to say; the city’s welfare is not their concern.     This is not being mean, it’s just the way they do business.      The Mayor and the City Councilors need a very firm hand so we can get some benefit out of their project.      Laying conditions down will do much good.   Speaking of being firm, the new owners of the ugly Richardson Garage need to keep in mind that one of the first views of visitors as they go over the Gillis Bridge, will be their piece of development.      How it looks will be very important for the benefit of all.

The Ale House and Parking.      The final design plan is not good. (Part of the building will be smack dab in the middle of one of the Ways to the Water – Mass Historic was against the plan, but political pressure forced them to reverse themselves.)     And the parking issue will be greatly exacerbated.        I see lots of trouble down the road and one of them is profitability and a visual disruption down Green Street, the very reason that COW was so against buildings on the Waterfront will be very apparent when the construction on this structure is complete.        I predict (or else it could stand as an eyesore for fifty years) that eventually the building will be modified to fix this problem.        The only good thing that will come of it now is the Riverfront Park will finally look like a park.

The 40R is suffering from a bad case of bloating.      According to the important work of the Strategic Land Use Committee, development was to be encouraged around the traffic circle and train station instead of on the sensitive Upper Little River Basin.     The initial plans by Minco on the face do just that and do it rather comprehensively in a fine piece of urban planning.        But Minco is just like NED; the city’s welfare nor the impact of their development into the future is not their concern.     Again, the Mayor and the Planning Office and the Planning Board need to be firm so this whole area will benefit the city and the citizens.         Conditions need to be stipulated and held to completely.    The siren songs of the state need to be resisted so our ship of state is not wrecked upon the rocks.

The DCOD will be under attack.      The historic preservationists in town need to get aggressive for there are plans underway to use every means possible to pervert the intended goals of this zoning ordinance.        A back bone, a lot of research, aggressive advocacy and much publicity; all of these will be necessary to stop the Mayor, the Building Department, the Planning Office, the Demo-lawyers and the Zoning Board of Appeals from making a mockery of this document.        It’s daunting but if done right, the hostility will slowly turn into begrudging respect. (and hopefully some fear)

I haven’t heard anything about First Republic’s plans for the Towle Property; the eventual plans for the National Grid property, the final conversion of Cushing Park into a real park, and anything new about the Central Waterfront or any new developments concerning the Whittier Bridge.

There will be some surprises over this spring and summer – as to them being pleasant, well, that’s another matter.

 -P. Preservationist

Posted in News and politics, Open Space | Leave a comment

The Master Plan is not a pack-it-in Plan

that Master Plans are all about a vision of the future or to put it in simple terms, “working toward a reality ten years down the road.”  

-Brick & Tree Blog, 1 Mar 2015, “Mix it all together and what do we get”.

I want to use the last statement, “working toward a reality ten years down the road.” as an over-arching theme for the work of the Master Plan Steering Committee.      How do they picture us at that time?     For that matter, as the citizens fill out the survey *, how do they see Newburyport ten years from now in 2025?

It is an important concept because we do have many self-centered, special interest groups who would love to steer the Master Plan for their own personal benefit and for their own personal profit.       There are way too many here who picture themselves sitting on a hot beach way south of here, living off the money they earned in town; while the rest of us suffer the consequences of their exploitation.

When I think of the scary role of the Steering Committee, I picture those Kurdish soldiers I saw recently on Facebook bravely picking out ISIS land mines, confident but oh, one small step!

The first big meeting of citizens was back in April, and I for one was very encouraged by the input that came from that initial brainstorming session.       It was clear, regardless that some were lacking  historical knowledge or brought their personal bias; this was a group that ‘loved’ Newburyport and clearly saw the old Master Plan as a stepping stone for the new Master Plan and working toward making Newburyport 2025 a city with a very high quality of life.

As you can tell from my blog post, there is a very big BUT.          And again, it has to do with money – the lack of it, too much of it and what parts of the city need it.

We need to realize that if we can’t sustain how Newburyport appears and we can’t keep our historic neighborhoods largely intact, the next Master Plan will have a whole set of new objectives: need for a new school, need to mitigate a suffocating traffic problem and the loss of the city being a desirable place to live.       The whole discussion will be how to win back that ‘magic’ so tragically lost.       The whole infrastructure will be stressed as the push for a ‘bigger’ city dominates the discussion.

We need to set our priority.     Do we follow the big ‘lie’ that more buildings will bring in more taxes and solve our problems, or do we try to improve our already winning formula?

We have way too many real estate agents in town and all the other building trades professionals who would want us to swallow the big lie.      We’ve got developers salivating over the fact that hardly nothing gets rejected in our boards and commissions.      How else would you explain this driving desire to develop every inch of our city?     Or the fact that Minco arrogantly admits that 800 eventual units will be built.

It’s a lie folks!

Minco is in Andover, most developers are out of town and the ones in town have swaying palm trees dancing before their eyes.        More buildings mean more demand for infrastructure that will burden the taxpayer.   More people, mean more children and the demand for another school due to overcrowding.      More water demands and more sewer translates into higher rates for all of us.     More Traffic as more cars are needed. (Yeah, right; the MBTA will take up the slack – dream on!)      The nice thing about being a destination city, most of our visitors get in their cars and go home.      But if they stay or we have a much larger population living here, it will mean more services, more shops and a whole different feel in the community.

When is enough, enough?       Just remember, that Boston was a small community at one time.       Now its metropolis practically abuts Worcester.

So the question remains.      How do you picture Newburyport in 2025?

Please don’t make me nervous with your answer!

-P. Preservationist

* I trust that every person who values our high quality of life, every environmental advocate who loves our farms, our open space and our amazing ecology, and our historic preservationists who want to preserve the look and feel of our fantastic city; has filled out the survey.

Posted in Affordable Housing, Agriculture & Farms, Art & Culture, Businesses, Conservation, Developers, Economics, Education, finances, Health and wellness, Heritage Tourism, Open Space, Parking, Planning, Quality of Life, Real Estate, schools, Streetscape, Taxes, Traffic | Leave a comment

The National Register and Taxes

I hate to bring up this droll subject on a Monday but alas, for at least businesses, tax time is here! (And a good time for procrastinators like me to get their taxes in before April.)    But I want to finish up with one last blog on the importance of the National Register.

So briefly, we’ve left the ‘symbolic’ labeling of the National Register of Historic Places far behind, choking in the dust.     I revealed how gaining a National Register designation is the foundation for huge benefits and the springboard to many types of preservation.   I demonstrated how important the ‘contributing’ designation is.    Then I continued by showing all the exemptions from costly construction that are available.   I revealed that developers and many building owners inside the District may be able to receive exemptions from the stringent Building Codes that will save thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. Then I exposed the deliberate campaign over the years to hide the National Register from the citizens of Newburyport.    Then I revealed the hidden hurt that potentially lies within the Register.      And finally, I showed, by using the National Register, what will be necessary to get the Demolition-Control Overlay District (DCOD) to actually preserve historic buildings.

But I left out the three main ways the National Register helps businesses and residents, save on taxes.

First, we need an informed citizenry.      By realizing how important the Newburyport Historic District is through education can go a long way to saving our city from becoming an intolerably costly place to live.       In this blog post, I showed that developers, like crocodiles, promise much but in the end will devour the quality of life for a host of residents.     Their persistence to demolish and/or expand or bloat a building or squeeze a building between other buildings will raise the average property value for a street.     It will ripple down through the neighborhood causing everyone living there to have to pay higher taxes.*      The single most important means to preserve our level of tax rate and perhaps even lower it is to preserve the buildings in the Newburyport Historic District.     There are many reasons for this which I have demonstrated over the years, but summarizing it – the gentrification of the city with new buildings under the very strict Massachusetts Building Code will require thousands of unnecessary dollars expended and cause the average price of homes in Newburyport to become unattainable by average middle Americans.

Second, we need a well-informed business climate.     There are significant tax credits available from the state and from the Federal government to businesses that observe the rules of rehabilitation by the Department of the Interior when renovating an historic building.      Landlords can receive those same tax credits by observing the same guidelines when refurbishing or renovating their rental properties.    There are no comparable benefits when demolishing buildings or gutting a house.      But as I have indicated, many a developer and landlord are blissfully ignorant or have been lead astray by our building inspector.      A climate where businessmen are well-informed by banks, by the city, by financial organizations and by the local Chamber of Commerce; could go a long way to accessing these tax benefits.

Third, we need citizens who still believe in doing things for posterity.       Residents can also get tremendous tax benefits through an entirely different means.        By putting a preservation easement on their house, a sizeable tax credit can be issued which actually can be amortized over many years.      Many put tens of thousands of dollars into their homes so they can live comfortable for TODAY.     Putting a preservation easement says that you care about preserving your building to continue the National Story and for the benefit of future generations.     It requires time (working through bureaucrats), dollars put aside for the enforcement mechanism and a third-party enforcer.      In our city, we have three available.    The least-expensive is the Newburyport Historical Commission, the middle of the road is the Newburyport Preservation Trust and if really serious about preserving not just the exterior but the interior of the building and willing to pay the price; Historic New England.      Of course, there are also other regional and national organizations such as the Architectural Trust.

All these avenues are available because of past citizens and elected officials who had the vision to put the Newburyport Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.        They saved many a building owner money by securing the first foundational step.

We need businesses and citizens to realize they can use these three means to save much in the way of tax levies.       But two of these can’t be rushed into quickly and take preparation and consultation with local historic preservation organizations such as the Historical Commission and the Preservation Trust and Historic New England** so the tax benefits can be enjoyed in 2016.

If there is any good time to start, it is now.

-P. Preservationist

* Hats off to the Back-Bay residents who actually worked via zoning and through their city councilors to slow down these ‘crocodiles’!

** Historic New England is pricy but if you become a member (not expensive), they will make available so much of their expertise free of charge or at a small minimum fee and will often have seminars available too.

Posted in Architecture, Businesses, Demolitions, Developers, Education, finances, Health and wellness, Planning, Quality of Life, Renovation, Restoration, Taxes | Leave a comment

Mix it all together and what do we get?

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

- King James Version

Though ‘vision’ here actually refers to the Word of God, we can actually extend the reference to the concept of a set of ideals by which a people mutually agree is a framework of society.      In the Bible, when the Israelite society disregarded their ideals and framework; they ran into serious trouble.

We can see the trouble across America as our founding principles are being abandoned and other ‘ideals’ and ‘frameworks’ replace them.      It often causes great unhappiness.

Bringing it into the perspective of Newburyport, we have a Master Plan that has been guiding us for the last fifteen years, far more than its supposed lifespan of ten.     It has helped us preserve in varying degrees our Eco and Heritage Tourism industries, guided our commercial and residential makeup and has greatly helped us in land conservation and preserving our farms and watershed.      Every time a Mayor or the citizenry stray from the over-arching goals; confusion and a whole lot of unhappiness are generated.

As the Master Plan becomes updated, it will be important that we get the ideals correct and the framework right so the prosperity (and more important, the quality of life) of the community are sustained.

So, I again, want to stress how important the Master Plan is and how it is not just some ‘symbolic’ document to be stuffed into a file cabinet and forgotten no matter the wishes of some of our past mayors in the last fifteen years.       It shapes how we raise taxes, it shapes how the government gives us grants and loans; it literally affects our standard of living and the lack of a ‘Plan’ or the disregarding of it can cause untold confusion and a lot of pain and suffering.

Mayor Mead was in control at the time of the making of our present Master Plan and because there was a lot of controversy over the Common Pasture, the Industrial Park and the upper parts of the Little River; it omitted references to most of this area.     Much political energy through subsequent corner office leaders generated the Strategic Land Use Committee (SLUC) to make up for that city planning hole.       Thankfully, its job was completed and is now helping us as development of the traffic circle is being contemplated and the Common Pasture including the upward areas of the Little River are segment after segment being preserved.

But all of that could have been avoided if it had been included in the original Master Plan.     It will be important that the new one includes all parts of the city.

Master Plans are all about a vision of the future or to put it in simple terms, “working toward a reality ten years down the road.”  

The original Master Plan’s futuristic theme was, “Shaping our future, honoring our past” and its guiding principle: “Preserve and protect the environmental quality, cultural, historic and community resources that have come to define Newburyport.”     One of its methods was to “prioritize open space for protection and to preserve wildlife habitats and natural systems.”

So, as we begin to analyze the new Master Plan, what is the new vision.     How do the citizens picture Newburyport in ten years?        What are their priorities?      How has the new demographic population in the city affected that new vision?       And on the negative side, “Will the city abandon the goals of the old Master Plan?” and if so, “What will they conceive as its replacement?”

The new Master Plan Steering Committee will be receiving the input from the surveys that the residents have completed.       One of the most important necessities of the Master Plan is that its goals are largely based on community input and are meant to reflect Newburyport residents.”

Our old Master Plan in spite of a great number of dark siders, was actually a fine masterpiece of vision.      But the Children of the Now are presently in the majority and great numbers of the sophisticated extreme-left pose a potent political block.

Frankly, it makes me nervous, but I might add, not too nervous.       In a couple of posts, I will reveal some areas of concern that we all need to watch out for and some important areas of interest that need to be included in the document.

-P. Preservationist

PS.   As I cover the Master Plan, remember that the goal of my blogs is to throw in some facts and history so we can get it right – this discussion will not be a vehicle for personal political attacks or scoring hits for some future election campaign.        November is far away and the Mayor’s race is not until next year.      This is about setting priorities and establishing a future reality that will benefit all of us.



Posted in Affordable Housing, Art & Culture, Businesses, Conservation, Eco-tourism, Environment, Heritage Tourism, News and politics, Open Space, Planning, Quality of Life, schools, sidewalks, Streetscapes, Taxes, Tourism, Traffic, Trees, Waterfront, Watershed, Wildlife, Zoning | Leave a comment

History of Newburyport’s Colonial Street Lights

The use of street lighting was first recorded in the city of Antioch from the 4th century.   Later it was recorded in the Arab Empire from the 9th–10th centuries, especially in Cordova, and then in London from 1417 when Henry Barton, the mayor, ordered “lanterns with lights to be hanged out on the winter evenings between Hallowtide (First part of November) and Candlemasse (First part of February).” It was introduced in 1759  to the US by inventor Benjamin Franklin, who was the postmaster of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For this reason, many regard Philadelphia as the birthplace of street lighting in the US though New York City claims that a system of second story lighting introduced in 1697 was the first.

The colonial-era streetlights were lit by candles placed inside a glass vessel, which kept the candle from being blown out by the wind. Franklin’s design was four-sided, with four separate panes of glass, so that if one pane of glass was broken, the lamp did not need to be entirely replaced, and might not even blow out.     Later, whale oil was used to allow for a longer burn throughout the night.

Lamppost topHere in Newburyport, the creation of lampposts were based on the Newburyport Bollard, the lamp post was extended up and then supported by metal spindles.       The city’s unique bollard was originally cannon, turned upright and capped.   After the two wars, Revolutionary and the War of 1812, the city which was one of the major centers for privateering* found itself with an abundance of cannon.    It was decided to place them around the edges of wharves so ships could tie up.   To make the lampposts, blacksmiths simply took cannon, inserted at the upright end the post and then attached the distinctive lamp assembly.

A perpendicular post was centered near the top so that a lamp-lighter could attach a narrow ladder to maintain the lights.     In today’s Newburyport, these cross posts have become handy for hanging flowers to brighten up the city.

This lamppost design can be seen in historic pictures of Newburyport, especially the one that stood on Market Square as seen in this classic picture.

Market Square with Lamppost visible

As the city’s fortunes went sour after the Great Fire of 1811 and the War of 1812; most of the cannon on the wharves were melted down or sold leaving the lampposts to be the sole ambassadors to Newburyport’s proud privateer* history .

The lampposts were upgraded to gas in the 1850’s negating the need for a person to light them from below and they continued in persistent existence over the years.      When the downtown was restored, the colonial lampposts were re-instated all around the NRA-controlled area and paid for by HUD.

Streetlight amongst a forest taken 25 Oct 2014 by Chris Wren

As the city began to prosper once again, there became an increasing need to stimulate business by continuing the historic look  of the streetscapes to encourage consumers to lead into other areas.   A system was designed to help pay for additional streetlights to extend down Merrimac and Water Streets and other ‘historic areas’.    Businesses would be encouraged to sponsor the addition of lampposts.     As a memorial to their vision, I have given a few samples of these donations.

Donation by Hall & Moskow Donations for lampposts II Donations for lampposts

Spring City Ironworks produces the finest cast lampposts in the world and stands ready to continue Benjamin Franklin’s legacy and to sell more of them to Newburyport.      They have actually a page in their catalog that gives due honor to the city.

The Newubryport Series by Spring City Ironworks

They are located at One South Main Street, Spring City, PA 19475, and can be contacted at 610-948-4000.   Their website is www.springcity.com and they can be reached at sales@springcity.com.

Newburyport’s historic character is closely tied to our colonial lampposts.     When people come they note our Federal architecture, the brick sidewalks, the tree-lined avenues, they see our quite distinctive Newburyport lamppost.     At the first brainstorming meeting for the new Master Plan, it was clearly noted that right along with other distinctive points, the following was noted:

 “Many feel that it is not enough to simply preserve the City’s historical character. Enhancement and beautification of the community must also occur. This includes ideas like burying utilities, installing brick sidewalks, and installing the “Newbury-porter” style lamp posts.”

Now that the city owns the streetlights (though not the Adolphus Greeley-inspired wood telegraph poles), there should be a push to expand the use of our distinctive colonial lighting symbols.Screen shot 2011-10-06 at 7.54.02 PM

-P. Preservationist www.ppreservationist.com

* There were never any pirates in our history.    We had privateers instead.     Patriotic, noble crews who seized enemy combatant ships, returned them to Newburyport, sold the ships and goods and in which a sizeable percentage went toward the government’s treasury.   Pirates often murder seized crews but privateers would take them back to shore for imprisonment but more often left them to find their own way back to England.   As much as it was war, privateers had a certain air of legitimacy if they had a ‘mark’ or legal certificate from their government.   If captured, they would be treated as prisoners of war and open to some measure of civil treatment.     This was fine during the War of 1812 when Britain recognized the United States as a legitimate government but not during the American Revolution.     All combatants were considered rebels and the government not recognized.     Prisoners from Newburyport would often ‘disappear’ or be treated cruelly since they were considered worthy of death as traitors.      Regardless of this danger, Newburyport was considered a leader in privateering and held especially responsible for forcing the British to abandon Boston due to English supply ships being so successfully interdicted.


Spring City Ironworks catalog, 2014, page 15, www.springcity.com

Electrical Review & Western Electricians, Volume 15, Electrical Review Publishing Company, Chicago, Jan 6, 1912. (Available through Google Books)

The Newburyport Bollard, by P. Preservationist, June 10, 2011, Brick and Tree Blog, (https://brickandtree.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/the-newburyport-bollard/), Newburyport.

Master Plan Brainstorming Ideas, April 9th, 2014, “Newburyport’s Historic Character”

Posted in Art & Culture, Downtown, Heritage Tourism, History, Planning, Restoration, Streetscapes, Tourism | Leave a comment

An Odd Duck

image001It is the human tendency, or perhaps an American attribute; to compartmentalize things.       We like to take ideas, people and organizations and ‘put’ them into categories.     Well, one organization doesn’t seem to want to fit and that’s the Parker River Clean Water Association.      Some have tried.     “Oh, that’s a water department!” (Not a government organization), “Oh, that’s a naturalist organization like the Nature Conservancy.” (Not its primary mission.)    “That’s an environmental organization!” (Sort of, but in a pretty broad definition.)   “I think they have to do with preserving open space.” (In a very indirect way.) And still others think, “They’re anti-development” (Depends on what your definition of development is!) and anti-business. (Depends on what business we’re talking about.) There are even some who would say they’re anti-government. (That’s really stretching it because some sectors of government that want to preserve watersheds and the environment and wildlife hold the organization in high regard, while other government sectors work against them.)

Simply put, the Parker River Clean Water Association is just that.     They want to keep clean and flowing every bit of the Parker River and all its tributaries.

But that is because so much of that area depends on a healthy water transport system.     Human development literally exists around and on this ‘watershed’.        Our quality of life including our drinking water and health are dependent on its health.      Our safety and security depend on making sure that the management of that water system does not cause disease and property-damaging floods.       Plants and animals constituting a balanced ecology depend heavily on the wetlands and the wetlands depend heavily on the plants and animals.      Wells for homes depend on a healthy watershed, and businesses as diverse as farms, clamming beds and fishermen require a balanced system that minimizes erosion and pollution.         The water flow and quality affects crops, fish, deep-water fish, humans and even the look and feel of the land.

The result is an organization that pushes into many areas so this region can be healthy.     They monitor the water quality and have a team of volunteers from Boxford to Rowley testing the waters.     Another group monitors fish counts which is an excellent indicator of the health of the rivers.       More volunteers advocate for proper flow of the water so the much-needed nutrients can move down through the eco-system.    Yet others, push for open space so there is adequate drainage and they work to minimize impervious surfaces to reduce flooding.      And still more volunteers concentrate on protecting the wildlife that are dependent on a healthy watershed which includes vernal pools and wetlands.

And above all else, the organization is dedicated to educating the general public on the importance of protecting and sustaining the Parker River Watershed so that all of us can enjoy a high level of quality of life.

The Parker River Clean Water Association  will be having their annual meeting this Sunday at 1:00 at the Byfield Library; I invite you to come and learn all the important sectors of this ‘Odd Duck’ of an organization.        Perhaps you’ll be inspired enough to assist with the many worthy tasks that PRCWA involves itself.

Get there early because there will probably be standing room only.       A whole lot of other citizens in the region are fully aware of how important this organization is and will be attending!

-P. Preservationist

Posted in Agriculture & Farms, Conservation, Eco-tourism, Education, Environment, Flooding, Health and wellness, Landscapes, Open Space, Organizations, Planning, Preservation, Quality of Life, Recreation, Sewage, trails, Watershed, Wildlife | Leave a comment

It just won’t go away!

coming downI was downtown today doing errands and, Lo, what do I see but the historic building, formerly known as Deluge One, still there!       I thought by this time the building department’s efforts to sweep away an inconvenient structure was going to be a quick deal!     According to them, this building was going to have an entire wall collapse right onto ongoing traffic; couldn’t wait a moment.havin a little trouble

What they didn’t understand and now the demolition crew now knows, those buildings (167 years last count) were meant to last!

3-layer brick constructionThree layers of brick in the walls as clearly seen in this picture.

While other buildings that have roof collapses get shored up, this building gets singled out.   How convenient that its fate was being decided on the very day before that evening of the ZBA.

It had to go!     The rules of even the DCOD said it had to go!     But there was a little problem.      Nothing should really be there to satisfy zoning.     To put a new building there that would justify its cost would demand 2-3 residents paying full price on a house facing…..yes it’s true…..an off ramp of a highway.     New building proposed to replace Deluge One If I was a bank financing this, even if I heard a song and dance story about ‘everybody wanting to live in Newburyport'; this one really pushes the envelope as to someone paying top dollar for the traffic noise at all hours of the day and night!      Besides, a new building would have to fully follow the building code and would require back acess – yes, it’s true!     A driveway exiting into the off ramp.     How delicious!

This would justify keeping the building that is already there with a simple addition of a garage on the west side.     You see, there are exemptions made for an historic building that would allow it to exist, however non-conforming to zoning simply by using the grandfather clause – in addition, there are many exemptions from the building code that would allow this building to be transformed into an attractive, commercial building.     If allowed.

So, with this possibility in view, the building had to go!

Except it isn’t so easy.       Supposed to fall down of its own accord, you say?     If that was true, many a rickety-old house in Newburyport should have collapsed long ago.

won't gp awauYes, the quick, easy, nicely graded empty lot is going to be a hard one to become a reality.      Here it is day-three and they are scratching their heads.      Certainly tough going!

And after the Newburyport taxpayers have been socked with $30,000 (plus) to demolish it; it’s time to take bets that nothing, in the end, will replace it.

All in the name of destroying the very asset that has made Newburyport affluent: our historic buildings!

I’ll leave you with a picture of one of our downtown structures before it was wisely restored!    And it was even in worse condition!

-P. Preservationist

Lovely view of downtown's condition in the 70's


Posted in Architecture, Art & Culture, Demolitions, Developers, Heritage Tourism, History, News and politics, Renovation, Zoning | 1 Comment