James Roy was pretty tough on the Mayor in his recent editorial. And many who favor the LHD would like her to use her bully pulpit to champion the idea. And she hasn’t done that. The most she’s done in the eyes of many is make a pathetic appeal to a bunch of anti-historic preservationists. And because of it, we all have to suffer every day to work or going about our business along High Street having to look at blood-red, doomsday signs.
But she is also pretty smart politically and I don’t mean in a cunning, cowardly, opportunistic way. (Good grief, we see enough of that on the national scene!) She knows that the anti-historic preservationists are a single-issue, obsessed and paranoid group. Every night they lay their heads on their pillows, and have nightmares about the very abbreviation, ‘LHD’. No rational thought, no reason can a swage their obsession to stomp out the very letters. These Troglodytes if they succeed in destroying our future, will simply crawl back in their caves and be silent on the greater issues facing our city.
So why fan the flames and tip them over the edge? (Unlike certain poor bloggers who are gleefully pushing.) As Tom Kolterjahn of the Historical Commission has stated, “Please give more consideration to the big picture beyond the single issue of LHD.”
The Mayor has actually been doing just that hard at work pushing historic preservation:
First, she has given the Planning Director the authority and the confidence to champion important historic preservation issues that touch on aesthetics, business, tourism and zoning. Instead of being in the shadows, Mr. Port is out there defending and promoting our historic seaport.
Second, she has pushed and pushed hard to get Ghlee Woodworth’s Clipper Heritage Trail off the ground – and one of the components is a rich, powerful historic website on our City. This is important because a great number of citizens don’t even know our history and unfortunately act accordingly! Our visitors and our future visitors will have a better idea how important Newburyport was in our Nation’s Birth and Growth by having access to it every day.
Third, she has worked hard to get heritage tourism to be our major draw. She has worked endless hours to get the Coast Guard City Designation and to reinforce the idea in Washington and at the Coast Guard, our importance concerning the service. Her bringing in the Bounty was a smashing success.
Fourth, the dividend for the paid parking was her renewed commitment for reinvesting the money into infrastructure improvements so our city can sparkle.
Fifth, she is cleverly pursuing Newburyport as a National Landmark which will further influence our heritage tourism.
Sixth, she is going for the $$$ that make a difference in getting us to look our best. One of the surprising initiatives (and I might add, down right clever) is the pursuit of the City as a Cultural District. Never heard of it? Well, that’s the point! It is designated under Massachusetts General Law, Chapter Ten, Section 58A. Like a local historic district that focus on physical aesthetics; the Cultural District promotes historic asset protection but it also goes far beyond, pushing hard for artistic work, festivals and a general enhancement of us as a rich cultural community. It also paves the way for more money from the state (Governor has set aside $5,000,000 in a special fund and the first eligibility is to be a cultural district.) It can’t happen unless the Mayor of the city initiates the process. And she is doing it! (Public Hearing, City Hall, 7:00, September, 26th)
While the loose cannons are batting at shadows of the LHD; she’s probably cooking up some more measures.
One of the things I would like to see the Mayor do is take a more aggressive stance against the outside developers who think our city is a free-for-all. Even that old dark sider, Gary Calderwood (Building Inspector); seems to have changed his spots* and is carefully enforcing our zoning laws. I give that credit to the Mayor’s influence. Even he knows where his bread is buttered!
The LHD is but one instrument in our large toolbox. We need to take our cue from the Mayor. Historic preservation is a community mindset and our citizens need to become part of it or if, after learning all about it, to decide they would prefer another community…like Seabrook.
* The Mayor needs to keep an eye on him and his entire department. We have to fight this practice that even when a developer or homeowner disobeys the city’s laws; the building department sits around being ‘powerless’. Our city needs a backbone to stop becoming a laughing stock for the construction industry!