Goals: Rubber Sheeting

  1.  Historic District Signage
  2. National Register Education & Protection
  3. Sidewalk Installation & Maintenance Plan
  4. Tree Commission Support
  5. Utility Lines Undergrounding
  6. Rubber sheeting
  7. New Building Inspector & Building Department
  8. National Landmark Status
  9. Archeological Ordinance
  10. Public Restriction Tract Index
  11. Local Historic District Expansion

 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

-George Santayana (Spanish Philosopher, 1863-1952)

zombie target on a gun rangeIt always seems that ordinary citizens like zombie pictures on a gun range, are always the group that gets abused, taken advantage of, and in many cases, raped and pillaged.       The fiasco on Plum Island comes to mind and who gets to pay for increased rates, the citizens of the City of Newburyport.      The costly overruns at the Sewage Plant?   You guessed it, the citizens again.     How about all the increased spending by our municipality?    Our profusion of ‘bond payments’.    Ditto, again.

But there is a way, a very inexpensive way unique to an historic city like Newburyport to prevent costly waste, and it will literally save  ‘millions’.      And I can prove it!       When the City decided to go for a revamping of the Waste Water Facility; in their eagerness to grab a shovel-ready project from the Federal Government, they calculated their expense; received the okay and Scan_Pic0008proceeded.      But then they found to their horror; that a man-made granite ledge ran perpendicular to Water Street making it impossible, without much increased expense, to finish the job.      Worse, they had no idea how long this granite ledge extended, how deep it was and what else lay below to surprise their excavating.      The entire project was stalled and with failed deadlines looming!

In case it’s a big surprise to anyone, the fact is that Newburyport is very old!      And the way the city looked back during the British colony-era, was radically different than when the Revolutionary War occurred, during the New Republic years and the appearance changed again during the Industrial Revolution and then changed yet again post-Civil War, and on and on.     You get the idea!

There are more than tunnels that lie unsuspecting below the surface.      Entire infrastructures are buried.      There are some 19 wharves (plus) of which many have had their sides filled in and are now invisible.     We’ve had entire industries with their basement framework and refuse, closed down and passed away and now their remains are buried – and we’ve had buildings come and go over the years.      Roads created and roads abandoned.       Poisons from irritants to carcinogens to deadly chemicals lie like land mines just below the surface ready to strike at the unsuspecting.

Unfortunately, we’ve had too many here in town who totally disrespect our history.    They pooh-pooh our National Heritage, and deem it not important and a whole host of the children of the Now see no relevance to anything going on today.   To them, the Archive Room at the Newburyport Public Library is ‘cute’ and its records are nothing but an inconvenience to storage and a place for people to dig around and get a ‘good feeling’ about our history.

But our history doesn’t like to be disrespected and strikes back in all forms of nastiness.

In the end, it cost the rate payers $1,000,000 plus in additional costs to explore and find out how extensive Coombs Wharf lay.         And yet, a very inexpensive way is available that could have prevented such unnecessary expense.

That ‘cute’ Archive Room contains maps – some are hand-drawn but most have been created by skilled professionals as ancient as contemporaries of young George Washington, the Virginia surveyor.     Additional maps are literally stacked as the long plodding of our city’s history continued.??????????

Rubbersheeting is literally the process by which maps are transcribed onto transparent templates, adjusted to scale and by using mapping software, the layers of history are matched to the present topography.       Major and minor projects in our city need this process to reveal what lies beneath the surface especially as more Back Bay and waterfront property is developed.      Right now, National Grid is beginning the slow process of exploring the soil just east of the Coast Guard Station.    Soon they will need to ask themselves the following questions.    What wharves lie beneath?      What past industries have left behind structures, refuse and toxic materials?     What kind of fill was used to extend the coastline from Water Street?    New England Development is very soon going to be asking the same questions.

Historians and Historic Preservationists care about our history.     They need to team up so the Mayor, the City Council, the Building Department and the Planning Office are clearly instructed to make any development, whether private or public – required to undertake Rubbersheeting and to follow it up with research.

The result of ignoring and not learning from history is not just that we will be doomed to repeat it; but the beleaguered rate payer and yes, the taxpayer will somehow end up holding the bill.     Developers will not want to improve our city if they know that significant and expensive delays will face them, and from the most unlikely source: our past.

Rubbersheeting saves money!      It’s a time saver, and yes, even saves us from health hazards and costly delays.

Let’s take history seriously lest we suffer from ignoring it!

-P. Preservationist

 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

-George Santayana (Spanish Philosopher, 1863-1952)


This entry was posted in Archeology, Businesses, Demolitions, Developers, Education, finances, History, Landfill, Planning, Taxes, Waterfront. Bookmark the permalink.

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