“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
One of the things that have been rather consistent in Newburyport’s history has been this consistent hypocrisy of selfish men and greedy interests. They (selfish men and greedy interests) throw a righteous aura about themselves in order to pave the way for them to richly line their own pockets. As I read the history of privateering; the same theme was present in the eighteenth century. As I have been reading the biography of Theodore Roosevelt; this theme was present in the late nineteenth century. The only difference has been today’s incredible sophistication to hide and shield this self aggrandizement.
We’ve seen it in the Central Waterfront debate; the spiel about the economic benefits and the driving necessity to develop; only to find out these arguments are centered around powerful interests who want to cut up land entrusted by the public so profit can be made. Or, a 40B development in swamp land in the Common Pasture, pushed by powerful families to enrich themselves; city be damned.
The situation today has not changed. The City of Newburyport is under full attack. We have these same selfish men and greedy interests gleefully demolishing our history and historic architecture throughout the Newburyport Historic District; and we have a sophisticated drive to force on us a huge rental development around the traffic circle and train; to the long-standing detriment for the city so a small, select minority can make a lot of money. (All for our good of course!)
There is huge money to be made and as can be seen today as in our own twentieth century history; a lot of unseen kickbacks. We are seeing without regard to abutters and citizens at large; developers demolishing our history and romance with total disregard. We’ve got Minco (Who’s business plan has always been to build and leave) having principles of the company joining local clubs and organizations; we’ve got parties hosted by Minco for the Chamber; and we’ve got select people wined and dined by Minco representatives. Couple this with slick brochures, sophisticated social media drives and propaganda pieces in the press; and you’ve got a rising tidal wave being whipped up to destroy the very quality of life in Newburyport for profit.
And then there are the Jeremiah’s.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story of this Biblical prophet; he told the King of Judah and anyone else within ear shot; don’t rely on Egypt to deliver them from Nebuchadnezzar. God says make peace with Babylon and surrender. Well, that sounded a lot like treason. They hated him, and torment him and at one point, literally had him in a sludge pit up to his waist. Do you think he profited later from telling the truth? He ended up, just like everyone else, fleeing and losing everything.
And I hate being Jeremiah also. Jerry is short for this full Hebrew name and alas; if I am not heeded; and the few of us in Newburyport who also are crying out warning signs; we’ll lose out just like everyone else.
Remember the majority in the sixties who wanted to sweep away the entire downtown? It was the prevailing method of urban renewal. It was the ‘way’ to go. It took a lot of Jeremiah’s to stop that attitude and we’re still suffering from the loss of those priceless Federal warehouses on the waterfront.
The question is, “Are you going to run along with the majority because it’s where the good times are, where the popularity lies; or are you going to do the tough thing, the unpleasant action; and tell the truth and seek the right thing to do?
It takes sacrifice but the benefits lie in the retention of our history and our romance as a city that possesses a very high quality of life for a wide range of socio-economic citizens.
Each member of this community has to make a choice.
History will be your judge.
PS. Since the June 17th public hearing is looming upon us; I will be one of the lone voices pointing out the negative impacts of the 40R. Someone has to do it!