Now the purpose of putting editorials in the paper is not to convince the anti-historic preservation crowd to repent of their position; nor would the incredibly silly editorials against the LHD certainly convince anyone who supports the LHD.
The whole purpose is to influence the larger population of citizens who are mostly going about their business, filled up with the cares of their world. It is this group if persuaded to engage that will help either side have success.
The strategy of the anti’s is to spread false alarms and fearful apprehension – it doesn’t matter if the charge is true or not – they know the greater ‘masses’ don’t have time to investigate each and every accusation only that ‘something is alarming’.
To counteract such base emotions of fear and terror, all the ‘pro’s’ can do is send along factual and well-reasoned editorials. But it is very tempting to counteract all the mud slinging with more mud-slinging. Probably the best example is the accusation that of the pro-LHD crowd is lying when in fact it is the anti-LHD’s! The best thing is to keep up a constant and reasoned voice no matter how much mud is slung at you. Avoid tit-for-tat.
But yesterday, in the Daily News, we see a new strategy. Ms. Bartley wants to have us straining over ‘numbers’. It’s 11 demolitions. No, it’s 4 – perhaps its not exactly full demolitions – many partial demolitions and invites the pro-LHD to participate in legal and statistical wrangling.
Again, my advice as a seasoned political activist – just ignore the invite.
The Trust for Architectural Easements (formerly the National Architectural Trust) has made it clear that well over 700 homes have been ‘lost’ since the inception of the 1984 National Register designation and that this steady ‘accumulative’ process continues today. We also know that a new phenomenon has occurred in which developers seeking a high-value market like Newburyport are factoring in the demolition delay as part of their business plan – they don’t even make a pretense of trying to save the building. And they are watching very carefully how Newburyport treats the preservation restriction issue.
The anti’s think that if the LHD is defeated, life in the community will return to normal and we will still have a nice city to enjoy. In reality, our most valuable asset, the historic business and neighborhood streetscape will begin to fall apart – first in the outlying areas of our historic district and then our downtown. Newburyport Development and New England Development simply can’t wait to see all restrictions thrown out.
Newburyport will be doomed if the LHD in some form is not passed. The mold has been cast for the loss of our historic city already – the question – will we choose to allow this doom scenario to play out or reject it for a brighter future.
PS. As for the other editorial, the Bible talks of frightened individuals unable to face the world in case there is a ‘Lion in the street’. Fantasizing over increased litigation is silly since LHD’s have been established in the hundreds in our state and well vetted legally. There will be no more legal wrangling than occurs over Planning Board and ZBA decisions. Newburyport is not an island and is most definitely connected to the rest of Massachusetts!