It is time to reveal the bigger issue behind the sidewalks

In my previous post, I let you know that last Monday will be noted as quite an historic moment – the introduction of enforceable standards for sidewalks.     If all goes well, by the end of Fall, we’ll have it passed by the city council and endorsed by the Mayor.

I’ve been champing at the bit over this because I did not want to inject ‘politics’ over something that in most cities would be simply academic.        Considering the stubbornness of this community to institute ‘common sense’ into the infrastructure; I did not want to tip the discussion, especially when we have a loud minority that love to put their pants on backwards simply out of spite. (To themselves and anyone else who is unfortunate to be in the neighborhood and has to look!*)

But it is time to split the discussion into two different categories.     Just to cry for the sidewalk issue to be ‘fixed’ has been heard since I moved to Newburyport and was probably an issue for many years before I arrived.        But now that we have the finances resolved and the means to get it done, now comes a much deeper and meaningful campaign.        

The fact is that we must decide now and only now and can not procrastinate what kind of city we must become!       

Are we a sleepy, compact, Boston bedroom town that lives off commuters that live here for our quality of life and our good schools and our low crime rate?    

Or are we a cultural tourism,  eco-tourism, heritage tourism; destination community that lives off visitors and quality of life seeking residents?

The Chamber by the way has to decide too.      Right now, they are fine to make us look nice, and to cater to the three to four month influx of tourists; but they do not feel any obligation as a body to heavily promote Newburyport as a destination city; only to ensure our high quality of life.       Like I said, ‘Common Sense’ is tough to find in Newburyport.


If we are the former, than what the Mayor is doing makes perfectly good sense.     She is replacing brick sidewalks and ugly slathered, uneven blacktop with quality cement surfaces.       She has diligently forced this upon the entire length and breadth of the Newburyport Historic District and would love nothing more than to replace concrete even within our sensitive DOD area. (if she could get away with it)        She’s fine with history, but she has a problem with historic preservation.        She and her Boston-bedroom community allies; have no practical use for heritage tourism.       It’s about schools, getting as much state-funding as possible for our infrastructure and setting up a nice, predictable technocratic bureaucracy to ensure conformity and safety within our city.      

If we are the second, then we have some major work ahead of us.       We should, as Portsmouth has done, put brick sidewalks throughout our Newburyport Historic District and concrete through the 12 non-historic neighborhoods and commercial, industrial areas.    We should have a unified way-finding signage system downtown, we should have a unified heritage signage on our houses, and a systematic method to help beleaguered business and residential properties keep and maintain their antique buildings in an area that basically supports the rest of the city.       Strong protections should be in place to make sure we don’t loose the streetscapes that have drawn people from all over the world to our community.      We should develop a huge campaign to make sure the rest of the world comes here (so we can fleece them) and be so happy for the privilege that we did fleece them!       We should design our culture so that people who care about our architecture and history will come to maintain and work within the Newburyport Historic District and those who do not, stay in the other 12 non-historic neighborhoods and who will enjoy and actually live off the NHD.       Efforts to expand our historic waterfront with replica RCS Massachusetts and/or privateer, clipper ship, etc. vessels need to be expanded as well as our museums fully-funded and enlarged.        With a greater knowledge of our history by the rest of the world; people will come to this lovely city to purchase memorabilia and to participate in our heritage as we celebrate Newburyport being part of the Story of America.

Mayor ‘bulldozer’ Holaday has already chosen the way the city will go – do we do it the way her allies want?      Or do we choose the latter choice?

I like what Mr. Shribman quoted this morning from Marcus Aurelius and it so applies to Newburyport.    

“Consider the past.    

Thou mayest forsee also the things which will be.”

Look where the Mayor has been taking us in the last six years.       And then look into the future.      Do you like what you see?      The City Council and the citizens have to make the decision – some like her way, and some don’t.         

 I have seen the future and I don’t like it – Our city deserves a better brighter future than just a bus and train stop from Boston.  

-P. Preservationist

* Some critics of mine have often tried to throw me in with the ‘crazies’; but I try my best not to deceive, lie, misinform and come to the wackiest conclusions based on biases, emotions and populist movements.       That is why I blog first, and Facebook later; documentation and research take time but it’s necessary to, as David M. Shribman commented today in the Daily News; “the country was founded on the idea that the people should rule and on the implicit corollary that the people should know what they are talking about–particularly when it comes to political affairs and their historical backgrounds.”      Which is why I am largely the lone, political blogger in Newburyport today; it is too damn hard for most people in town especially when there are so many demands on their time.

This entry was posted in Downtown, Education, Health and wellness, Heritage Tourism, History, Open Space, Planning, Preservation, Preservation History, Quality of Life, Real Estate, Restoration, sidewalks, Streetscape, Streetscapes, Taxes, Tourism, Trees. Bookmark the permalink.

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