Where there is no vision, the people perish
I know that sometimes it’s for the best to just buck up, put a smile on your face; and continue to do what can be done to advance benefits for the area and for the city. You often can’t get everything that you want – and as a mature adult you realize that as you shoot for 100%; you may end up getting 85%;
But for Peter’s sake, I am sometimes speechless at the lack of vision that is out there.
Two recent events in particular left my mouth hanging open like a dead fish’s and absolutely stymied in disbelief.
Though certainly not crucial to advance the project itself, as a good steward of monies granted by the Community Preservation Committee; I sent an application into the Essex National Heritage Commission to gain some matching funds from their Partnership Grants. I also sent applications to many other groups but I thought to myself – this project, Newburyport Historic District Signage would be the closest to their core mission – preserving and promoting the protection of historic architecture and encouraging more heritage tourism. It would also highlight the second largest concentration of architecture and history in the National Heritage Area. [My stress obviously]
But it came back rejected! I just stood there in disbelief. Instead, they funded the Clipper City Rail Trail. I love the CCRT and use it often – but what has a recreational tool that benefits locals have to do with history, preserving or encouraging an increase in visitors? Most tourists don’t have the time to relish the pathway – they are too busy doing all the great things that are found along the Essex Coastal Byway that the ENHC are supposed to be promoting.
Speaking of the Community Preservation Committee, talk about visionless committee members! The Old South, i.e. the Whitefield Church, is the only international draw in our city. People come to see the remains of one of the founding fathers of our country; while here they expect to see the church in top condition. Granted the city (and the congregation and pastor keep falling over themselves in gratitude) has funded the exterior restoration; but this year they declined the interior restoration of the finest Trompe L’oeil in all of the Northeast. Water damage has marred its impact and as visitors from China to Germany, Argentina to Finland come and visit – they are met with a building with damaged goods. We need to get more people to visit Newburyport who come here and do things way beyond getting an ice cream. Surveys have consistently shown that heritage tourists spend more and linger longer. Again, we have an example of citizens who can’t see the importance of making sure we are an international and national draw.
I will devote another post to it, but our very economy is dependent on outsiders visiting here. As many wise members of the Cultural Council and the Master Plan have noted; we have services and a high quality of living attributed to a much larger urban center – without the crush of humanity and all provided by the constant inflow of visitors.
We need the vision for Newburyport restored – we need the regional tourism organizations to get with the program! I just found out that the North of Boston Tourist Bureau’s brochure for the 17th Century Saturday events hasn’t been updated since 2012!
Our affluence and our quality of life depends on promoting Newburyport.
Let me state the P. Preservationist’s revised version, “Where there is no vision, the people will certainly perish (or have to shoulder a higher tax burden!)(or move out!)”