I was riding my bike this last weekend on the Clipper City Rail Trail when I spotted a pair of golden eagles flying with massive wings over the ‘business park’ (same place, different name). I was amazed at the bird’s size as one of them swooped close overhead. But what really shocked me were all the people on the trail totally disregarding them!
And then I noticed a gentleman with a dazed look in his eyes sort of staggering on the path and my first thought just for a moment was that he was drunk but I realized he had this rather shocked look like he’d been blown away by something he had seen.
I looked at him to mention the eagles (thinking he had seen them) when he blurted back, “It’s just amazing!” He explained that he had come up from New York to take care of his father’s house in the city (who had recently passed away) and he hadn’t been here since the 60’s.
He was simply overwhelmed. He said he couldn’t contain himself and just kept driving around seeing the sites. He exclaimed with the deepest passion, “If more people knew about Newburyport, they would come!”
He looked at me with sudden bewilderment and blurted out, “Why aren’t they letting people know!?!”
As he bid me adieu, I said to myself, “Why indeed!”
We’ve had the City pointing the finger at the Chamber and the Chamber pointing the finger at the City and this has been going on for years. I realize there is a curse at work upon our city – but couldn’t we at least try? One of the contingencies provided by John Greenleaf Whittier to cancel out the curse was a welcoming, more open community. One that isn’t afraid of the outside world and bold enough to welcome others here. Couldn’t we at least have a marketing plan?
We see excited business people risk it all to establish businesses here, only to realize that no one in any sizeable number will come simply because they don’t know our city even exists. We’ve had economic development directors come and go repeatedly mostly because we have old N.A.I.D.’ers who think the key to the success of our community is the industrial park. In this global economy, Newburyport can’t compete; we’re a losing cause when it comes to small industry. We have a sizeable number of citizens who greedily want no one to come here – even as our economy, including our tax levies, are based on large numbers of outside visitors. No wonder Tom Ryan calls us Cannibal City!
The Mayor is daring fate right now by appointing Lois Honneger to be the Director of the Office of Arts, Tourism, and Cultural Affairs. It’s a huge task but one that is badly needed.
So, I wonder. What kind of budget has she been given? What resources have been made available to her? What vision and job description has been charged to her?
Frankly, I’m afraid to ask for I know what answer I will get!
Curse You, Mr. Whittier!