I frankly hated formatting the first Planning & Development Committee public hearing – to me it was a wasted two hours!
If they had done it correctly, each citizen speaking would have contributed their two minutes to the ordinance details instead. Since one side is unalterably opposed to it in the first place, the hearing would have been very short indeed!
Instead, it was a boring rehash of what had been said when the Local Historic District Study Committee was conducting it. The same old blah, blah. Yes, it’s up on cable for all to watch but my advice is to listen to Sarah White’s presentation to the committee and then turn the channel to something else with more substance.
But it was pure joy to edit today the second meeting of the Planning & Development Committee that was held Thursday night. With no input from outside sources, we could actually get to hear where each councilor’s mind and priorities were heading. It is being readied for cable and I will upload it to the Internet soon too! It was quite fascinating.
I won’t spoil you with recounting most details – watch the video. But I did get a big kick out of hearing councilors who have no sympathies toward historic preservation talking historic preservation. They in effect had to pretend to be concerned with it or to be all for it. It was priceless!
But the most fun came when Lord Sith had an outburst. The basic summation: how dare a bunch of carpetbaggers have to tell the rest of us what to do! Considering he was facing or sitting next to most of the councilors in the chamber who fit that description it was quite an awkward moment!
But his comment which was more of a lament was quite telling. He wanted things to go back to the way it was before historic preservation became such an important issue.
And I remember them.
In those ‘days’, if you brought up the historic architecture in a planning board meeting or in a ZBA hearing; everyone would be staring at each other as if to say, “What has that to do with the meeting at hand?” or “What is this person talking about?” If you told them the house in question was part of the historic district, there would only be blank stares. I remember the Historical Commission would be attended by smirking homeowners and contractors who had the attitude of, “Why am I wasting my time going before this commission?”
The general attitude of City Hall was to ignore historic preservation. And it wasn’t that long ago.
Here were droves of visitors coming to the City because of the Newburyport Historic District and the historic feel of the community; and the politicians and the city employees totally ignored it or frankly were never told to be aware of it!!!
Buildings were demolished or at the least gutted and denigrated without an objection or even a whimper. Instead of historic brick, cold concrete and black top were slathered over our sidewalks. Our history was ignored even as more and more people were attracted to our city by our history!
That is the kind of past that Lord Sith and his dark side allies yearn for!
May they be thwarted at every step!