Newburyport is getting expensive to live in and with the passing of the Tuesday’s vote, it’s going to be more expensive.
We need a support structure consisting of income from increased visitors and infrastructure that keeps our property values high. Protecting our valuable historic district makes sense and guarantees our high property values which will allow us to fund the improved schools and support a senior center.
But then I see this strange sight and it makes absolutely no sense. A group of people who want to pay more money for fancy school buildings and yet, they want no protections on the historic district. All that will result as our most treasured asset dissipates is a tax bill that is unsupportable. And people who love and cherish Newburyport are going to be forced to move out as the city compensates by hiking our tax bills. As Barbara Anderson so noted this last weekend, just because your property values may go down, the state and tax assessors will find a way for you to pay more especially as revenues go down in a community. (Of course, we’re supposed to pretend this isn’t so! It’s hard to make believe when the real tax bill shows up at our door.)
If you are for the hike in taxes to pay for these ‘infrastructure’ improvements, simple logic would make you want to support the local historic district expansion as the IRS, the states and national statistics have shown that property values rise and are stabilized not just inside the historic district but throughout the surrounding neighborhoods.
“In addition to creating new jobs, new business and higher property values, well-managed [Heritage] Tourism improves the quality of life and builds community pride.”
-Opening statement from the 2003 national research study (The Historic/Cultural Traveler by the Travel Industry Association and Smithsonian Magazine)
It may not be the primary reason we will have our local historic district but it will become a very real necessity as we receive our tax bills this coming year.
PS. It’s heavy reading but I highly recommend going through this 2003 report that documents how a LHD affects property values. Keeping in mind that Charleston, South Caroline invented and has had LHD’s the longest in the country; take a look at this 2003 report on the benefits financially for those who are in and near a LHD. In 2002, the following report in our state shows the benefits of historic preservation. It is interesting to note that the politicians in Boston just moved to add $10,000,000 more to a historic preservation fund because the evidence shows clear advantage in generating jobs and tax revenue in Massachusetts.
P.P.S. I noticed that the same proportion of voters for the schools as compared to against the schools was roughly 4 to 1 in Wards 1-3. I noticed that even with a higher percentage of school-aged children in Wards 4-6, it was barely 2 to 1. Even with all the talk of supporting property values and the good state deal, these wards were tough sells. Those who support the LHD (like me) need to work on convincing the outlying neighborhoods that their equity and property values are stable not because they have nice neighborhoods but because Newburyport is a heritage tourism destination. The hard work of the PortPride volunteers broke through the hard resistance; the historic preservationists will need to do the same to generate a powerful groundswell to influence our councilors.