Apparently, seeing the response from the last few posts, most everyone is still sleeping. Well, when you wake up, I hope you see that many here in town, outside and inside City Hall have your back. There are city councilors who know what’s happening in town, citizens who do care enough to rise up and stop insidious actions that threaten our quality of life. Many unsung heroes; who, after stopping the terrible threat against our well-being; take no glory and fade back into the community.
This most recent threat came from the state and in particular, MassDOT. Yes, the same one’s that years back tried to turn High Street into an Everett-style drag strip. Well, they’re at it again and this time, their bullseye was our heritage tourism.
The American Disabilities Act stipulates that the surfaces of a sidewalk must be flat – it doesn’t stipulate any preference of surface material, its main job is to make sure that dueling wheelchairs aren’t mired in a rut. It also has specific designs for handicap ramps that go down on to the roadbed. This is where a brilliant bureaucrat from the halls of Mad Hatter Transportation decided to strike at our cherished industry. One of which consists of the three major industries that make Massachusetts a leader in the country: Bio-medicine, Education and Tourism. “Let’s wipe out tourism by insisting that the ramps must always be in concrete.” they decreed. “And if they don’t comply, we’ll withdraw transportation funding from our heritage sites!”
Poor Amesbury, so dependent on state funding and so eager to be another Newburyport, had no choice. After revitalizing their downtown with brick sidewalks, they proceeded under threat to dissect the whole thing. I invite anyone to visit downtown Amesbury and see this situation in all its full horror..
But it wasn’t enough to stab our sister city in the heart, they decided to go after their golden prize, Newburyport. Yes, the Port City FINALLY flush with cash to redo our sidewalks and the Big Bully himself shows up to make sure we are harmed.
The state has since 2008 cut as much as 40% from its local aid and now they threatened to go further unless we put in this insane decree. The result has been the worst in brick-laden South End but it can be seen across the Newburyport Historic District.
Tony Furnari is not a politician – as the head of the Department of Public Safety, he has to follow local and state and federal regulations. He had no choice but to comply especially with the cash-strapped state of the city when it comes to our roads.
It took local citizens, our elected officials to demand that it be put to a stop. Alas, it is too late for Amesbury. (Don’t feel too bad for them; they’ve been sucking up our businesses of late.)
But Newburyport has been saved! It hasn’t been covered by the Daily News, but our average citizens rose up, our elected officials all the way up to the Mayor have stood firm against the Bully; and Mr. Furnari has been all too happy to do ‘constructive’ work rather than destructive.
What with major new work being planned to redo the brick sidewalks downtown, we know that our heritage tourism has been saved from yet another attack.
I’ll leave you with a good taste in your mouth by providing you pictures of the lovely workmanship that has been finished at the corner of State & High. Nicely punctuated by Newburyport Bollards; this reflects our future not our past.