When it comes to the sidewalks in our City, until the Mayor has assembled this ad hoc sidewalk planning committee; I wouldn’t mention anything about the conditions of the walkways. In fact, make sure it’s ‘mums’ the word. In fact, bring up a whole host of subjects of great concern but NOT THAT.
Now normally, I would encourage people to take the time to write and speak to their councilors, ward or at-large. I would be the first to have everyone throw some of your own input back at the Mayor; she would appreciate the feedback regardless of your views. (As long as you’re courteous and civilized about it!) In fact, the average elected councilor and mayor loves to get the ‘take’ of all the citizens. Just keep in mind to do your homework and do not sound like an ignorant fool. As for that, just remember, it’s okay to be ignorant; it’s not okay to be an ignorant fool.*
If you wonder why I recommend silence, just take the time to drive along Prospect Street but do it slowly. I realize locals use it to get around town so just pull off if your neighbor is rushing through and then continue to drive slowly. You’ll see concrete, you’ll see blacktop, you’ll see cobblestone, you’ll see brick, you’ll see broken up concrete & wavy blacktop left untouched. Then, as you drive slowly by, you’ll really start to see peculiar things!
You’ll see brand new concrete with a patch of brand new blacktop right in the center! You’ll see brand new blacktop on one side of the road and brand new concrete on the other! You’ll see brick laid down parallel to the road and then brick laid down perpendicular to the road. Then you’ll see concrete that’s curved like at the skateboard park on Low Street! Then you’ll see a mixture of brick, concrete, blacktop, cobblestone, packed dirt, then maybe brick, then maybe concrete, then brick, then blacktop and so on…
Now keep in mind this is supposed to be a sample redone section of Newburyport using the new ‘sidewalk money’.
If you go to another City that actually does their sidewalks using federal standards of the American Disabilities Act. (Which is not a law, it’s a right like free speech and the right to bear arms.) In modern, professional municipalities, there are certain standards. Like smoothness of surface, width of sidewalk and one over-riding principle, the consistency of materials. The theory is to have a consistent surface so you don’t have to stare at the ground while you’re walking nor walk like a hiker in the woods tripping over exposed roots!
Then there is the fact of loss of property values. IN THIS PRESENT TIME, LOSS OF PROPERTY VALUE IS THE NUMBER ONE ENEMY IN OUR NATION. If Newburyport is to survive the present malaise in the country, it must seek to boost those values in any way it can. I have already told you that our historic district has a not-so-secret and very inexpensive way to quickly boost those values: putting in historic brick sidewalks not just in front of your home but on your street. The boost on your property can be from 10% to as much as 30%.
In these tight times, most aren’t going to have some extra cash to hire a contractor to brick your sidewalks – to these people, keep quiet. Therefore, don’t say anything to anyone that would prompt them to come down and do ‘work’ in front of your house. For those lucky enough to have some spare change, get them done quick!
THERE IS STILL TIME TO SPARE THE HORRIBLE FATE OF PROSPECT STREET!
* If you’re ignorant, you will be wise in seeking knowledge; but an ignorant fool babbles on as if the fool knows it all and won’t listen to something as inconvenient as facts! That’s why the statement in government is, ‘Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” If you don’t know, it is every citizen’s responsibility to find out the facts!