For years, the dark siders, the NAID’ers, the extreme right and the Libertarians, as well as those who make money off the city’s contracts; all have bad mouthed the Community Preservation Act. For all their different reasons (some ideological and some purely selfish); we now have a rich historical portfolio proving how it has benefited the City of Newburyport in a big way. In fact, it has become so important to this historic seaport by the sea; that powerful interests have turned to it – those with a glint of gold in their eyes and those in politically powerful places.
When the CPA was promoted in Newburyport, it was championed as a means by which projects that could not receive funding by any other means; could be advanced. This was frankly unique in the state. Many towns and cities regularly use CPA money to do strictly city projects, often as a base for grants and leverage for bonds. As for private organizations and churches; as the citizens of my wife’s former home in New Jersey would say, “fogettaboutit!”
But now the city wants to grab as much as possible for their projects – and of the NGO’s? (Non-government organizations) They’re knocking themselves out to get their portion.
The reason is that Newburyport is a destination city. Our aesthetics, our environment and our quality of life are deciding factors but all those good things bring visitors and it being the third most important industry in Massachusetts; an epicenter of economics. They come and they spend, and what most people don’t realize, 14% yearly come back and try to live here! Newburyport is tiny and there are just so many places to put all these newcomers. Thus, our real estate is absolutely gold. (Why else would somebody want to put a house on an off-ramp off Route One!) Frankly, the only people making big money around here are the real estate agents!
People come to enjoy our beautiful looks. They come to saturate themselves with our historic feel (while they’re eating and entertaining themselves and scarfing ice cream and shopping); they come to learn of our history as it relates to the formative years of our great country and so they visit our museums and they enjoy our eco-tourism by crowding onto our marinas and hiking, kayaking and visiting our wildlife centers. They absorb our culture by visiting our churches and walking our streets and taking tours and meeting locals and visiting our art galleries and listening to our musicians.
To support all this, our buildings and infrastructure all need help and we need the money to keep our environment intact and we desperately need funds to preserve our high quality of life. Due to the economic collapse of 2008; funding has been horribly slow in obtaining private grants or from the largess of government programs. In all this time, the Community Preservation Act has been a rock of security. In fact, due to it being such a security on a few bonds; it has actually caused our city’s credit rating to go up!
So, with all that pressure – a flood of competing demands have been put forth. And yet, there is just so much money to go around! Obviously from the news, no extra money will be forthcoming this fall since the state no longer has a surplus!
This is it, people!
Now all the projects put forth come to $1,994,125!
Granted we’re going to have a few dummkopfs who think they will get all the money they ask or they don’t have to pony up matching funds; or fail to realize that the building they are trying to restore will need a preservation easement; or that there are strings attached to all that public money. The Community Preservation Committee will cut those projects out with their long knives in short order. Frankly, and unfortunately, the CPA has been around long enough that I doubt those projects will amount to a major deduction.
No, we’ve got some major politics involved here. I do not envy the CPC! The pressure will be to have whatever favorite project championed first. The maneuvering and the behind the scenes viciousness is about to, if not already, happening. The Mayor is going to push for her favorites, the schools are going to put up pressure and all the rest of the project heads are going to have to make sure there is someway they are in the winning circle. Then later, the city councilors will be getting their choices made!
Unfortunately, in all this mess; projects that actually and truly benefit the city in the long run are going to get left out in the cold. Perhaps they’ll make it, perhaps not. In my next post, I am going to list all the projects and identify (with as much facts and fairness as possible) which ones are of priority.
But frankly, this situation has already left the wharf of rational reason. It will be those who campaign the loudest and the slickest and put as much political pressure as possible; who will win.
So the question will be, “What will be the Last Projects Standing!!??!!”