Category Archives: Activism

1 Little’s Lane Being Demolished

Tappan House being demolished

The Tappan House being demolished

The Tappan House, 1 Little’s Lane, Newbury, being demolished today, right now.

This is what can happen anywhere in Newburyport without a Local Historic District (LHD).  By law zoning cannot stop it.  A demo delay just delays the destruction for a year.
1 Little's Lane being demolished

1 Little's Lane being demolished, Courtesy of Skip and Marge Motes

Destruction of The Tappan House, 1 Little's lane

Destruction of The Tappan House, 1 Little's Lane, Courtesy of Skip and Marge Motes

The Tappan House being destroyed, March 20, 2012.

The Tappan House, Courtesy of P.Preservationist

The Tappan House, Courtesy of P.Preservationist

The Tappan House, 1 Little’s Lane before demolition.

Facts about Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD)

Facts about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD)

  • Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District  (LHD) consists of High Street and downtown Newburyport from Winter to Federal Street. (It just includes those areas.  It does not include Plum Island.)  For a map of the proposed LHD press here.
  • The purpose of the proposed LHD is to protect and preserve distinctive historic characteristics in the proposed area.
  • High Street and downtown are vital to cultural and economic the wellbeing of the city.
  • There is no longer protection for downtown Newburyport. The Urban Renewal Plan for Downtown Newburyport expired in 2005.
  • High Street was almost destroyed by MassHighway in 1999. The LHD provides protection to the roadway so that would never happen again.
  • The LHD strives to create a balance between protection of our historic heritage and homeowner’s rights.
  • The creation of an LHD is an ongoing process that continues to incorporate public feedback.
  • The LHD deals with architecture that is only visible from the public way.
  • The LHD only applies to architecture built before 1930.
  • The LHD does not affect ordinary maintenance and repairs, landscaping, sidewalks, terraces, roofing material, shutters, shutter hardware, gutters, storm doors, storm windows, exterior lights, driveways, and minor details such as paint color (for all all of the outside of the building, including doors and trim).
  • The LHD does not affect the interior of a building, and by state law can never affect the interior of a building.
  • By Massachusetts state law, the LHD can not be voluntary and home owners cannot “opt-out.”
  • Fines: The Planning Board, the Building Inspector and the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) all have the ability to use fines, but they do not and never have levied fines.  Fines are in municipal law as a last resort.  If they did not exist, a developer could come into town and say, “I’ll do anything I want,” and there would be no legal tool to stop them.  The same criterion would apply to the proposed LHD.
  • By state law the only tool available to prevent demolition of historic homes is a LHD.  Zoning laws cannot solve this issue.
  • The LHD will be voted on by the Newburyport City Council, and needs a super majority of the Newburyport City Council votes, 8 out of 11 councilors.
  • If the LHD passes, by law the LHD requires the creation of a commission to oversee the LHD, that is made up only of Newburyport residents.
  • If the LHD passes, by law the LHD ordinance cannot be changed without a super majority of the Newburyport City Council Vote, 8 out of 11 councilors.
  • If the LHD passes, by law the LHD cannot be expanded except by a very long and tedious process,  just like the one that Newburyport has been going through for the last 4+ years.
Map of Newburyport's Proposed Local Historic District (LHD)

Map of Newburyport's proposed LHD

Map of Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

To see a larger map press here.

To see all the information on Newburyport’s proposed LHD press here.

Yes! LHD Signs (Newburyport Local Historic District)

The “YES! LHD” signs are going up all over town today.

They say “YES! LHD” Support a Local HIstoric District, Citizens for Historic Newburyport (CHN).

Yes! LHD, Support a Local Historic District

Yes! LHD, Support a Local Historic District

To read more about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD) press here.

And to see the map of the proposed LHD and the link to the online petition press here.

YES! LHD (Newburyport's proposed Local Historic District)

YES! LHD, Support a Local Historic District

Citizens for Historic Newburyport (CHN) can be reached at citizens@historicnewburyport.com, www.historicnewburyport.com.

If you would like a sign you can also contact The Newburyport Blog.

Newburyport’s Local Historic District, LHD-YES!

LHD-YES, Support a Local Historic District

LHD-YES!, Support a Local Historic District

This is my car.  Gorgeous new LHD-YES!, Support a Local Historic District.

Good for Citizens for Historic Newburyport!!

You go guys!!

To read more about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD) press here.

And to see the map of the proposed LHD and the link to the online petition press here.

Citizens for Historic Newburyport (CHN) can be reached at citizens@historicnewburyport.com, www.historicnewburyport.com.

Local Historic District (LHD) and High Street in 1971 from P.Preservationist

High Street, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

High Street, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The P. Preservationist has written a fascinating story about the effort to have High Street be a Local Historic District (LHD) in 1971.

The P. Preservationist has gone to the Newburyport Archives and done some mega research.

Everyone here at the Newburyport Blog, me and the frogs, are mighty impressed. This is definitely a must read.

P. Preservationist points out that there are differences today:

First, we have far fewer Townies present today and they represent a minority in our political scene.  Second, our demographics have changed.   We have a large percentage of people who have moved here precisely because of the historic neighborhoods.  Third and most importantly, the class structure that so bedeviled Bossy Gillis and John Marquand no longer exists.”

High Street, © Sally Chandler, 2004, Courtesy of "Historic Gardens of Newburyport"

High Street, © Sally Chandler, 2004, Courtesy of "Historic Gardens of Newburyport"

He has a marvelous quote which, as he points out, is reminiscent of today:

“High Street resident, Elizabeth L. Whiting complained, ‘Surely informative ideas of the many, gently and rationally expressed, deserve as much attention than the ideas of the latter [opponents] which are presented in deliberately caustic and irrelevant oratory.’ ”

You can read the whole post here.

Comments on the Online Petition in Support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD)

Downtown Newburyport, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

Downtown Newburyport, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

These are some of the comments on the online petition in support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD).  The petition reads:

“We the undersigned are in support of creating a Local Historic District for Newburyport, Massachusetts that consists of High Street, the gateway to the city, and downtown Newburyport.

We support preserving the historic character of these two areas that are vital to the economic well-being of the city.”

The online petition has reached 200 signatures as of today.  One online petition against the LHD has 20 signatures, the other has 1.

The online petition in support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District can be signed here.

Here are some of the comments:

“It is very important that we approve this proposed historic district covering High St. and the downtown area. The proposal is restrained, rational and thoughtful and we are way late in making this designation.”

“This is an important next step for the City of Newburyport. The historical district provides opportunity to assure that its historical character is not lost for future generations.”

“Newburyport must have a designated historic district. It is absolutely foolhardy to not protect these irreplaceable treasures.”

“We live in a historic 1845 home (on High Street) and we think that creation of an LHD will help all of us to preserve the historic character and beauty of Newburyport into the future.”

“I think the LHD is long overdue. My thanks to the committee volunteers for taking on this effort.”

“Absolutely needed!”

“I strongly support the LHD to protect our rights as homeowners. We bought our home specifically because of the consistency of its historic neighborhood. Significant alteration or demolition of historic properties in Newburyport would diminish our experience of living here. Over time, if the historic context is allowed to erode, property values in Newburyport will be far less than they could be.”

“I agree that maintaining the historic nature of our town is what makes Newburyport such a special place to live.”

“LHD is needed to protect the important historical fabric of Newburyport.”

“Please protect our treasured place.”

“The authentic architectural heritage of our city is one of our greatest strengths and adds meaningful value to everyone’s property. We should protect this.”

Petitions R Us

George is happy (although he doesn’t’ look very happy, but who knows if George could ever look happy), I‘m happy.  The online petition in support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) is doing well, and seems, at least at this point, to be adding signatures, 150 for the LHD and 13 against.  This works for me.

George looking happy

George looking "happy"

I wasn’t going to put up a petition, but then I got an email from someone telling me about the petition against Newburyport’s LHD, and I thought, “What the heck, let’s put one up.  We had such great success with the petition in favor of saving High Street back in 1999, maybe this one will be fun too.”

And I’ve gotten so many emails, and even phone calls thanking me, which is so nice. Thank you out there in web-land.  Usually for the Newburyport Blog it’s the other way around.

People seem so fed up with those who are commenting in the comment section of the Newburyport Daily News, trashing, and sometimes very personally trashing those who write in favor of Newburyport’s LHD, as well as giving out an astounding amount of mis-information about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District, that what has been expressed to me is relief, a way to say, “Here we are, we think Newburyport’s Local Historic District is a great idea!!”

If you want to join in signing the petition in support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District you can sign the online petition here.

Protecting High Street the Roadway

Congratulations to the Newburyport LHD Study Committee for being so receptive to Newburyport citizens.

Today’s Newburyport Daily News has a story by Dyke Hendrickson about how the Study Committee has put wording into the draft of the Local Historic District (LHD) ordinance for Newburyport to protect High Street, the actual roadway, from ever experiencing the destruction that almost happened by MassHighway in 1999.

Good for LHD Study Committee!

You can read the whole story in the Newburyport Daily News here.

The story also talks about the online petitions.  So far the LHD petition, which can be signed here, has a whole lot more signatures than the anti-LHD petition, at the moment there are 82 signatures for the LHD and 10 against.

And, I just cannot help myself, one of the folks who signed the anti-LHD petition is Dr. Sadru Hermani, who is the same Dr. Hermani who wanted to develop the Lower Green in Newbury.  And it was a group of very concerned Newbury based citizens called Save the Lower Green, along with the help of The Essex County Greenbelt Association, that worked tirelessly to raise the amazing amount of $500,000 so that the historic Lower Green in Newbury along 1A would not be destroyed.

The parcel, owned by Sadru Hemani of Newburyport, was in danger of being subdivided and developed. Preservation advocates say that would have drastically altered the 375-year-old green, which represents the area’s first settlement.”  The Boston Globe, September 25, 2011.  (That article can he read here. The fight to save the Lower Green was also widely covered in the media.)

Dr. Hermani also says in the anti-LHD petition, “The state tried to widen High Street but citizens prevailed without a LHD in place.”

First of all it took an heroic effort by almost the entire city to stop MassHighway from destroying the roadway. Do we really want to go through that every time a grant to repave the roadway might trigger major alterations to High Street?

And no offense to Dr. Hermani, but I know the folks who fought to protect High Street in 1999.  There were a few gems, wonderful, wonderful people who lived on High Street that fought that fight, Dr. Hermani was not one of them.  Most of the people who did come out and fight that heroic effort were “regular” people, who did not live on Hight Street,  who realized the how vital High Street is to the soul and economic well-being of the city.  I can’t tell you how many times people who live on High Street have said to me, “Oh, you’re the one who helped save my house, thank you. I just didn’t want to get involved.”  Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.

The online petition in favor of Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) can be signed here.

Demolition of 1 Little’s Lane, Newbury

A fantastic story by the Newburyport Daily News on the plans to tear down the Tappan house at 1 Little’s Lane in Newbury, with a photo of the heavy equipment that had already demolished the 19th century carriage barn. 1 Little’s Lane is a restored circa 1800 home, 6,500 sqft, with 6 bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms that abuts the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm. The story and the photos can be read here.  Photos of the restored house inside and out can been seen here as well as here.

Globe Article about Newburyport Election, Tuesday November 8, 2011

There is an article in Sunday’s Boston Globe by Brenda J. Buote, about Newburyport’s election this Tuesday, November 8, 2011. It includes information at how important it is to the future of Newburyport’s Local Historic District.

An informal poll of residents by local blogger Mary Baker Eaton revealed that many voters were unaware of the importance of the upcoming election, even though the winners of Tuesday’s ballot contest will help shape the future of downtown Newburyport.

When the new City Council convenes in January, local leaders will weigh a proposal that would create a Local Historic District, which would protect the downtown area and High Street, the principal gateway to Newburyport and the cornerstone of Newburyport’s Historic District. Named an endangered resource by Preservation Massachusetts, High Street dates to the 17th century. From its humble beginnings as a country road, the city’s signature street has evolved into a socially prominent roadway of national renown. It is home to Newburyport’s only National Historic Landmark, the Caleb Cushing House.

If embraced by city leaders, creation of a Local Historic District would protect the exterior appearance of properties along the 2.48-mile High Street and the commercial downtown between Federal and Winter streets to ensure that any planned changes would not detract from the district’s historic character. The intent is to protect historical architecture and encourage new construction compatible with the surrounding buildings.

Two of the at-large council candidates – Sullivan and Giunta – are opposed to the Local Historic District. The others have voiced support for the concept.”   (The other candidates in favor of the Local Historic District (LHD) are Ed Cameron, Barry Connell, Mike Early, Ari Herzog, Steve Hutcheson, Katy O’Connor Ives.)

You can read the whole article here.

Where to Vote in Newburyport, November 8, 2011

If you don’t know where to vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 there is a very good link, “My Election Information,” where you can put in your address and zip code, and the website tells you which Newburyport ward you are in and where to go to vote.

On Tuesday, November 8th you will be voting on Newburyport’s Charter. The Newburyport Charter is the legal document that outlines how the City of Newburyport functions and is organized. There is now an easy to understand website on Newburyport’s Charter, www.charteryes.com. Basically a “Yes” vote means that the mayor of Newburyport, MA will be elected for 4 years instead of 2 years. (It’s a good idea, vote “Yes.”)

Also the next Newburyport City Council will be voting on a Local Historic District for Newburyport.

The candidates running for Newburyport City Council who are on record for supporting the process of a Local Historic District, i.e. the economic future of Newburyport are (you will be choosing 5):

Ed Cameron

Barry Connell

Mike Early

Ari Herzog

Steve Hutcheson

Katy O’Connor Ives

Vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Newburyport Election 2011 – Confusion

What I hear when I talk to people (and these are people who vote, and pay attention) is a whole lot of confusion about the upcoming Newburyport election on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Q:  When is the mayor running for re-election?

A:  The mayor is running for re-election in this election, but she is running unopposed. (I happen to think that Mayor Donna Holaday is running unopposed because she is doing such a fantastic job.)

Q:  What is a “Charter,” does it have something to do with Newburyport’s Charter School?

A:  No, the “Charter,” has nothing to do with Newburyport’s Charter School.  The Newburyport Charter is the legal document that outlines how the City of Newburyport functions and is organized.

Q: What is that big gray pamphlet that came in the mail?

A:  That is the new Newburyport Charter that the citizens of Newburyport will vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.  There is now an easy to understand website on Newburyport’s Charter, www.charteryes.com.

Q: What are those signs?

A: The signs around town are for people running for the Newburyport Council At-Large race.

Q: What is the Newburyport Council At-Large?

A:  There are 6 areas in Newburyport, they are called “Wards.” Newburyport has 6 Wards.  Each Ward has its own City Councilor.  In this election all 6 Newburyport Ward City Councilors are running unopposed.   There are 5 other Newburyport City Councilors who cover the entire city of Newburyport (all 6 Wards), they are called Newburyport City Councilors At-Large.  There are 8 candidates running for 5 seats for the Newburyport City Councilor At-Large race.

Q: My child’s doesn’t have school, I think, on November 8th, is that when the election is?

A: Yes, the election is Tuesday, November 8, 2011. (Go out and vote.)

Q: Where do I vote again?

A: To find out where you vote go to this website “Election Information,” put in your street address and it will tell you where to vote.

Save Newburyport – Support a Local Historic District

The “Save Newburyport – Support a Local Historic District” website is up.

Although Gus Harrington and I are listed as the folks heading the endeavor, there are lots of people helping the effort.

Bumper stickers are due to arrive on Wednesday.

On the “Action” page, it gives information and links on how to write to a Letter to the Editor at the Newburyport Daily News and the Newburyport Current.

It appears that there is some confusion out there about how to access information about Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD). On the Action page there are links to the proposed map of the LHD, the overview of Newburyport’s proposed LHD, a link to the clarification of some of the confusion about the proposed LHD, etc.

On the Action page there is also a suggestion to call your Newburyport City Councilor, with information on who the Newburyport City Councilors are, and how to get in touch with them.

There is a reminder to vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, where to vote, and which Newburyport City Councilors are on record as being in favor of the proposed Newburyport LHD.

There is a recommendation to go to public meetings, to keep an open mind, whether you support Newburyport’s LHD, are against the LHD or simply aren’t sure how you feel yet.

Save Newburyport supports the process of creating a Local Historic District.  That process includes public meetings where the citizens of Newburyport take part in deciding what the guidelines would be for the anticipated LHD.

New Newburyport Charter Website

Newburyport CharterThere is a new Newburyport vote “Yes” Charter website.

On the front page it points out:

“We have had 6 different mayors in the last 13 years!   There is a better way to run a 21st century city with a $54 million budget.”

And on the “Recall” issue the charter website  “Why No Recall?” page:

“Here are some of the reasons that a recall provision is not included in the new Charter.

-  Under state law, a recall can occur for any reason.  For example, if someone is unhappy with a zoning decision, he can institute a recall petition.  This is exactly what happened recently in Chelmsford, where a rich resident, unhappy with a zoning decision that affected his property, spent $90,000 to unseat local leaders.  That effort failed, but it caused an immense amount of bad feeling in the community.

-  Recalls are expensive.  These “special elections” cost the taxpayers money.

-  Recalls are often bitter and divisive.  They can hobble the serious activities that must be provided by city government.

-  There have been examples of communities around the country where a defeated mayoral candidate immediately begins working to recall the person who has just been elected.  This causes enormous disruption in the community, and makes it difficult for the elected officials to begin developing their programs.”

To check the entire “Charter Yes” website out press here.

The election is Tuesday, November 8, 2011, one of the things that you will be voting for is whether or not you would like to change Newburyport’s Charter.

Newburyport, Why High Street is Important

High Street

High Street at the corner of State and High

This morning I got a call from one of the Massachusetts’ newspapers about the upcoming election. And one of the questions regarding the importance of the Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD), was, “Why is High Street important?”

I guess I have always assumed that people know the answer to that question, but I guess not.

In 1999 High Street was named an Endangered Resource by Preservation Massachusetts. It was the first roadway ever to be nominated.

These are some excerpts from the Endangered Resource Nomination, which was written by Bill Steelman and Jane Carolan of the Newburyport Historical Commission. The full text us up on the High Street website.

“In an important and meaningful way, High Street not only links, but virtually embodies, all periods of Newburyport’s considerable history.

Beyond its historical significance is its cultural and economic value to the community. High Street is Newburyport’s premier street and one of its major character-defining elements. As the principal gateway to Newburyport, it helps establish the city as an historic, attractive and welcoming place whose citizens appreciate and care for their community’s appearance.

High Street is historically significant. The entire street, its curvilinear course, landscape features and connection to structures, side streets and neighborhoods, contributes greatly to the Newburyport Historic District. Acknowledging its high level of significance and intact nature, the city’s 1991 preservation plan recommends High Street as a local historic district.

It is these images of Newburyport, old and new, which draw several hundred thousand visitors to the city each year, contributing significantly to the city’s burgeoning tourism economy.”

Written in 1999 by William Steelman and Jane Carolan of the Newburyport Historical Commission for the Endangered Resource Nomination.

*The above photograph is of the corner of State and High Streets, circa 1900. It is on the High Street website. It was obtained courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, at the Cushing House Museum, 98 High Street, Newburyport, MA.


There is No Protection for Downtown Newburyport

The Dodge Building

The Dodge Building, Pleasant Street, Newburyport

There is no longer any protection for downtown Newburyport except for 4 buildings, the E.P. Dodge Building (21 Pleasant Street), the Eaton Drug Building (58 State Street, across from Richdales on the corner of State Street and Pleasant Street), Fowle’s News on State Street and Newburyport City Hall, which are protected through preservation restrictions.

It used to be that the buildings downtown that received federal money from the Urban Renewal Plan, when downtown Newburyport was restored to its present wonderfulness, were protected from any inappropriate changes or demolition.

But the Urban Renewal Plan has expired, so downtown is vulnerable once more. (It was partially and almost totally destroyed in 1968.) I think almost everyone would agree that downtown Newburyport is vital to our economic wellbeing. It is one of the major reasons that people want to live, work, visit and play in Newburyport. And a Local Historic District (LHD) is the only thing that will protect downtown Newburyport.

Eventually, after a great deal of public process, where there will be give and take about the actual guidelines of the proposed Local Historic District, it will come in front of the Newburyport City Council (where there will be lots more discussion on the LHD) for a vote.

So who you vote for on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 matters if you care about whether or not Newburyport is protected for those of us who live here now, and those who come after us.

So again, the At Large candidates running for Newburyport City Council who are on record for supporting the process of a Local Historic District, i.e. the economic future of Newburyport are:

Ed Cameron

Barry Connell

Mike Early

Ari Herzog

Steve Hutcheson

Katy O’Connor Ives

(There are 6 candidates listed here who are on record as being in support of the LHD process, but you will be voting for 5.)

Vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Newburyport, the Memory of What Almost Happened to High Street in 1999 is Fading

When I wrote the post on High Street almost being destroyed in 1999 it really upset me all over again.

And since writing it I’ve discovered something. The memory of what almost happened to High Street in 1999 is fading.

A lot of people, a whole lot of people, don’t even know what almost happened to our historic roadway, High Street, in 1999. Partly because the city of Newburyport has changed that much, and that a lot of the folks who live here now and are interested and are involved in what happens in our city, were not here in 1999.

I’ve also been in touch with The Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHD) the state historical commission, and the folks that I talked to there don’t know what almost happened to High Street in 1999.

And, I’ve been talking to people at MassHighway, and they don’t know what almost happened in 1999. (It used to be that if the word “Newburyport” was uttered around anyone at MassHighway, they would get the vapors, that’s how much of a stink we made in 1999 to save historic High Street.)

So for me, it’s an, “Oy Veh.” (Yes, I’m originally from New York City.)

So it becomes even more important to make sure High Street becomes a Local Historic District (LHD) to give us the political tool incase a federal or state agency ever wants to make destructive changes to our beloved historic street, one of the major economic engines for the city of Newburyport.

So again, the At Large candidates running for Newburyport City Council who are on record for supporting the process of a Local Historic District, i.e. the economic future of Newburyport are:

Ed Cameron

Barry Connell

Mike Early

Ari Herzog

Steve Hutcheson

Katy O’Connor Ives

Vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Newburyport’s Urban Renewal Plan has Expired

Newburyport’s Urban Renewal Plan for downtown Newburyport has expired.

Eaton's Drug Building

Eaton's Drug Building on State Street

I went to Newburyport’s Planning Office today and asked what that meant, or if it meant what I thought it meant.  And, yup, unfortunately I got it right.

What it means is that there is now NO protection for downtown Newburyport.  Anybody can do anything to the buildings downtown except for the E.P. Dodge Building (21 Pleasant Street), the Eaton Drug Building  (58 State Street, across from Richdales on the corner of State Street and Pleasant Street),  Fowle’s News on State Street and Newburyport City Hall. These buildings are protected through preservation restrictions.  But that’s it folks.

The Urban Renewal Plan protected the properties downtown that had received Federal money.  But now that the Urban Renewal Plan has come to an end, no more protection.

Almost everyone, I think, would agree that downtown Newburyport is vital to Newburyport’s economic health.  And downtown Newburyport is vulnerable once again (being partially destroyed and almost completely destroyed in 1968.)

The only thing that will protect downtown Newburyport is a Local Historic District (LHD).

In the upcoming Newburyport Election on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, the At Large candidates running for Newburyport City Council who are on record for supporting the process of a Local Historic District, i.e. the economic future of Newburyport are:

Ed Cameron

Barry Connell

Mike Early

Ari Herzog

Steve Hutcheson

Katy O’Connor Ives

Make sure you vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

Newburyport, High Street, Almost Destroyed in 1999

Readers of The Newburyport Blog have asked me what happened to High Street in 1999 that caused such alarm.

High Stree
What was once High Street between Summer Street and Winter Street
, 
Courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center
 at the Newburyport Public Library

The City of Newburyport got a grant to fix up High Street. And in 1998 the Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway) came back with plans for High Street that met the “robotic” federal regulations for the roadway. It took a year to get people’s attention to the threat to the historic roadway. Finally in January 1999 people started to pay attention. “Citizens to Save High Street” was created (by yours truly), and on February 4, 1999 there was a huge meeting in Newburyport City Hall, standing room only, and the citizens of Newburyport demanded that the plan not take place.

These are the “Highlights” of the proposed plan in 1998 by MassHighway.

The Massachusetts Highway Department considered trees to be a “safety hazard” because they were too close to the road, consequently, the future of many of High Street’s trees were in question. (i.e. they were going to remove almost all of the trees.)

Close off of Ferry Road.

Completely reconfigure the “Three Road” area up at Atkinson Commons and put in a traffic light there.

Put a traffic light at Toppans Lane, by the Newburyport High School.

Remove 10 feet of land along the side of the Bartlett Mall facing High Street, that belonged to the City of Newburyport, to widen the roadway.

Remove land from private property owners, from the area between Fruit and State Streets along the “Ridge” side of the roadway, and put in retaining walls to make the street wider.

Make High Street as straight, narrow and uniform as possible from one end of the street to the other.

Remove plantings and all historical elements.

Remove the statue of George Washington by Pond Street and the Bartlett Mall. There was no plan to relocate the statue of George Washington. Pond Street was completely reconfigured to be one way.

A Local Historic District (LHD) would protect against destructive changes that could take place to our historic roadway.  We would never want to go through this experience again.

Newburyport Charter, November Election 2011

I got a large gray “Report” in the mail yesterday (from the Newburyport Charter Commission). I almost threw it away. I imagine that about 85% of Newburyport households receiving this piece of mail, either put it in a pile to be “looked at later,” i.e. “looked at never,” or just tossed it outright.

Newburyport CharterProbably the next 10% put it aside, intending one day to actually read it, but they probably will not. The next 3%, like moi, looked at first page “Ballot Summary” so I would know how to vote. And maybe the last 2% actually perused the 51 page document at hand.

So much for 2 years or grueling hard work and utter transparency by the Newburyport Charter Review Committee.

So I’m going to make it easy.

On Tuesday, November 8, 2011, this is a really important vote. Basically a “Yes” vote means that the mayor of Newburyport, MA will be elected for 4 years instead of 2 years. (It’s a good idea, vote “Yes.”)