As I was photographing and taping the Tappan House coming down, it made me realize how foolish Newbury has been in not instituting demolition delays or local historic districts. The tax revenue of this historic home will never be recouped either by a swimming pool or a tennis court. And the downward spire of property value will begin to affect the value of the homes around it.
Newbury is financially strapped. They’re trying to push for a huge tax increase because they are swimming in debt. And now another source for revenue is gone. The owner saves a lot of money now but the town is left holding the bag. In the end, as more developers hear about the easy killing in Newbury; this action is going to snap back and bite building and land owners in increased taxes and in loss of property value.
I’ve seen it in New Jersey where historic properties and priceless open spaces are mowed under by new buildings – many so shoddily built that they begin to deteriorate right after they are built. And the pressures of more infrastructure has buried residents in suffocating tax burdens. It is very costly to live in New Jersey and they have plastic lawn ornaments!
Newburyport is right now struggling with a budget deficit as the Commonwealth tries to stay afloat. They have been spoiled for years with stable property values because of the restoration of our Downtown and the moving in of people attracted by our historic beauty. As outside developers and clueless homeowners destroy or gut the very thing that provides us a high stable tax revenue, we will all suffer as less and less is raised.
You may say, “I live over on Turkey Hill Road – who cares about the historic district.” You’ll care as more and more of the tax burden falls on the city because our historic areas are diminished. All it takes is one inappropriate building on a streetscape to lower the property values for the entire neighborhood.
And the worst part, we will become just a ‘used-to-be-great’ town – a tired, economically strapped community that visitors pass by for a more attractive destination.
How fitting one anti-historic preservation group has given us the hint of our dire future if we abandon historic preservation.
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