It took courage to go against the tearing down of deteriorated urban centers but Newburyporters did it and bucked the system.
It took courage for the city’s leaders to take the signals coming from the citizens and translate that into not only a preservation of our historic downtown but to adopt the vision to turn us into a heritage tourism site. This against a chorus of dark siders who were too short sighted to even understand that new direction.
It took courage to fight against the transforming of our beloved High Street into a four lane highway system. Everett is a close community but their central boulevard is a high speed thoroughfare. Picture that in Newburyport! But the citizens and the elected leaders had the will to fight it and won.
Doing what is right has never been easy.
We have a beautiful city now that has risen from the slum that we once were. All this due to a HUD mandated, LHD-like restriction on the exterior façade of our downtown.
That LHD caused a ripple effect that has spread positively throughout the entire city. Other communities, copying our blueprint for urban renewal, have pleasingly discovered the same phenomena. When we travel to Portsmouth, that city was also in a terrible condition at about the same time as we were. But they had a model, Newburyport, to follow.
But we lost the HUD restrictions in 2005. Developers are already sharpening their knives ready to transform us in the most-profitable (for themselves) means possible. And the shining example that is Newburyport, built on courage and vision, could be lost and in a surprisingly short time.
We have councilors who need to be courageous and do the right thing. It won’t be easy and initial resistance will be there…until the fruits of a good deed are found out.
And then everyone, from the brave to the brainless, will claim they were for it all along!