I have written about this before but I welcome Architect Jonathan Hale coming to our city and lending his credentials, his experience and his knowledge about Newburyport to reinforce this message. If our streetscapes become marred by inappropriate development, the entire city from our border with Newbury on the west to West Newbury on the east will suffer. We have no special monuments that symbolize us, no special historical event that one can point to to frame us and we have no one, unique, theme that draws people to our place. When visitors come, all they can say, with untrained eyes is, “Newburyport is a beautiful place”. It is everything perceived that is wrapped up inside the Newburyport Historic District that has caused this reaction.
Therefore, it is vitally important that our city officials protect our streetscapes – for that is the draw. Their track record is not good on our city-owned sidewalks as they are still a mess and will continue to be a mess as our poorly-directed DPS slathers blacktop here and there, wasting our newly-acquired tax dollars. They have done somewhat better by the newly established Tree Commission, that will protect, and then encourage to spread, our street side foliage.
Now they need to protect the historic homes that are visible from the public way.
If they fail to do so, it will not be long before our city is no longer a desirable place to visit. And it is these visitors that empower a tiny city of 17,500 plus to have the level of affluence that gives us such a regional standing.
As Jonathan Hale said back in 1995 before the recent trend to destroy our historic assets accelerated,
“Everywhere one goes in Newburyport, one senses there are discoveries to be made…What it sets apart today is its completeness; everywhere in Newburyport the old way of seeing predominates.”
It is this ‘completeness’ that is at greatest threat of being lost. We have a new breed of developers and newcomers who simply do not understand what is at stake even as they invest in our city hoping to make a profit derived from a bright future in Newburyport. If they are not stopped, their hard-earned efforts will result in their loss too.
I invite everyone to attend tomorrow afternoon at the Custom House at 4:00 for an exciting presentation concerning our unique and irreplaceable historic architecture.