Monthly Archives: November 2006

Newburyport, Special Election — Just Say “No”

Oh, good grief! The Newburyport School Committee is proposing a special election for this Spring to start the ball rolling on the funding for the proposed $30 million dollar elementary school building extravaganza.

First of all the special election would cost the tax payers $17,000 (Newburyport Daily News, November 29, 2006). There is NO money for that. Please.

The push, or the panic button push, or the “our children will be destroyed forever” push, if you will is “overcrowding.”

But, what the School Committee is NOT talking about (or at least that I can find out) is that there is a short term solution to the overcrowding situation that would cost very little money compared to what they are proposing. (Preliminary estimate to new construction at the Bresnahan — $4.3 million, the beginning of the $30 million spending extravaganza.)

Not ideal, but as I understand it, an all full day kindergarten could be out of the Brown Elementary School, thereby freeing up much needed space at the Bresnahan Elementary School.

Money for busing, yes, but a lot less than the proposed $4.3 million. Come on.

The argument against this — not good for our children to have to switch back and forth between neighborhood schools. They could be permanently, irretrievably, emotionally harmed.

Oh, good grief, that is just ridiculous.

At kindergarten and early elementary school ages, one does not need a expensive consultant/researcher to know that this back and forth stuff would NOT cause irrefutable harm to our young Newburyport school children. Good grief again.

Free up the space at the Bresnahan Elementary School and then go back to the drawing board right away and come up with a sensible, realistic, fiscally responsible solution (there are four very valuable pieces of property here, see previous posts) that the taxpayers will support.

Do not waste everyone’s time and valuable money. I’m not even talking compromise here. I’m talking a good dose of downright Yankee commonsense, not pie in the sky, dreamy $30 million dollar building plan.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Plundering the Wheelwright Property

A little clarification here on the proposed plundering of the back of the Wheelwright property by Wills Lane LLC. This proposal will be in front of the Newburyport Planning Board December 6, 2006.

This is a traced/drawing from the Newburyport GIS map showing part of the back of High Street, from State Street to Lime Street or what is know as the “Ridge” the land behind the stately High Street mansions.

ridge.3.jpg

The area in red was the original Wheelwright Property, the back of which Wills Lane LLC is proposing to develop a subdivision.

This is a photograph taken of the beautiful entrance to the Oak Hill Cemetery off State Street. The “lane” of the proposed subdivision by Willis Lane LLC would basically parallel this gorgeous, historic roadway.

wheelwright.1.jpg
Edward Gerrish Mair © 2006

And this is a close up of the subdivision Wills Lane LLC would be proposing in front of the Newburyport Planning Board. This is the “sensitive” community version, rather than the “by right” version (see pictures in earlier post.)

Wheel.C.close.jpg

What I did was take a picture of the public document at the Newburyport Planning Office. The “peach” colored area is the Oak Hill Cemetery. The beautiful entrance to the cemetery is also sort of in peach color. This was done by moi for clarification sake… I hope I can’t be sued for this. If I could, would somebody please let me know ASAP. (Actually if the developer, who lives in town, is proud of this plan, the nifty peach color could be an asset, setting off the planned subdivision in all its “glory.”)

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, then this is a pretty sorry state of affairs.

Again, for activists out there in local Web Land, the City cannot do all that much to stop this “ridiculous” plan (as Ester Macomber calls it in the Newburyport Current, October 27, 2006.) It is the owner, who lives in Newburyport, MA, who does not appear to be changing his mind one little bit.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

(Editor’s Note: For an even more detailed map please see The Newburyport Preservation Trust)

Newburyport, Newsletters and Elementary Schools

A while ago I got a newsletter from the Mayor’s office. It was on bright yellow paper and it was excellent.

Snow Emergency Update, Leaf Pick-up, Crow Lane Landfill Update. All info short and to the point and written by different department heads. I read the whole thing. And I would have read the whole thing even if I wasn’t a blogger, who now reads this kind of stuff.

And a few days later, for some reason, I wandered into the Children’s Room at the Newburyport Library. And low and behold there was another newsletter, the School Committee Newsletter. I used to receive one of those, but since there is no child in the Newburyport School system, I guess, no more newsletter.

But, as a tax payer I would have very much liked to have gotten this particular newsletter (October 2006) because right there in black and white the “Status” of the Long Term Elementary Building Needs. Ah, my…

Note to the Newburyport School Committee: very helpful to send out an abbreviated version of the newsletter to taxpayers, a la what the Mayor’s Office initiated, especially when it comes to spending $30 million plus (Newburyport Daily News, November 17, 2006) of tax payers hard earned money on a diamond necklace approach to our elementary school building stuff. Good grief.

So, no, it sounds like, having stumbled on this newsletter in the Newburyport Library, quite by accident, that the Newburyport School Committee has no intention of revamping it’s recommendations to coincide with reality, but instead is deciding on “how to best proceed with implementing this plan.”

Bad idea.

And the reason it would be a good idea for taxpayer to receive (at least an abbreviated version) of the Newburyport School Committee newsletter, is that a) of course it pertains to the taxpayer’s money, and b) taxpayers often have very good insight and perspective that parents who are in the throws of getting their children educated (which usually, in my experience, entails at least some degree of high anxiety) might not yet have.

Having a child go through a whole variety of educational building situations, from very fancy to very un-fancy to large, small and inbetween, my perspective is that it was the schoolmates, the caring parents of schoolmates, and the guardian angels all the way along, who taught, cajoled, prodded and guided that made the huge difference, rather than the bricks and mortar stuff that encased guardian angel wings and other things.

(Boy, I wonder if this is going to piss a lot of people off.)

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Wheelwright Property Proposed Plunder

I took a look at the Newburyport Planning Board’s agenda and low and behold Willis Lane LLC, Brown Street is up to bat, yet again. (December 6, 2006)

So, curious human being that I am, I totteled over to the Newburyport City Hall Planning Office to take a look at what Willis Lane LLC might have in mind for the back of the Wheelwright Property that abuts the sacred Oak Hill Cemetery.

Could our happy developer, who lives in Newburyport, have come to his senses and amended (or scrapped) his previous plans to plunder (changed the verb) the property.

The answer is apparently not.

Here are the plans for what the developer feels that he could do “by right.”

Willis.0.jpg

Now whether or not he could do this “by right,” I have no idea. Fortunately the Newburyport Planning Board does.

And take a closer look at what the developer feels he could do “by right.”

Willis.3.0.jpg

Yes, you saw correctly, three 2-families (plus a one family that is not on this detail.) Isn’t that fun.

And having been shocked at what the developer might be able to do “by right” here are the sensitive community plans.

Willis.C.jpg

Doesn’t look like much change to me. Sigh….

Houses, with (it looks like) garages now right by the scared Oak Hill Cemetery. The “lane” to the subdivision pretty much paralleling that gorgeous “lane” to the Oak Hill Cemetery. Sigh…

Unfortunately, it seems to me, there is no accounting for taste.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Practical Civics

One of the odd things that’s happened to this blogger as a result of blogging now for 10 and a half months is that philosophically, politically I’ve moved from what I would consider a “liberal” bias more towards the “center.” My goodness.

I find this very odd.

As a blogger, I will have to admit, I’ve paid a great deal more attention to civics than I ever did as a regular resident.

Take the elementary school needs for example. Before becoming a bloggett I was all for neighborhood elementary schools, including keeping the Kelly School open.

However, as a bloggett I’ve gone “over to the dark side.”

To quote an astute reader of the Newburyport Political Blog in an email to moi:

“…the only parents that spoke at the recent meeting said that they are less interested in ‘bricks and mortar’ than sound educational programs. Many middle school parents are upset about the abysmal results on the 2006 MCAS tests. About 2/3 of our middle school students are not proficient in math – we did not even match the statewide average, never mind keep up with our peer districts.

The link to those figures is:

http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/home.asp?orgcode=02040000&view=tst”

And also according to the astute reader:

“9 out of 10 girls graduate from Newburyport High School and only 2 out of 3 boys graduate.

These graduation rates are posted on www.SchoolMatters.com (funded by Bill & Melinda Gates):

http://www.schoolmatters.com/app/data/q/stid=22/llid=116/stllid=321/

locid=1009994/catid=814/secid=3504/compid=771/site=pes ”

Not good. The point being that quality education would be the first priority, way before an unbelievably expensive, extensive building extravaganza.

(And let’s not forget the Middle School, that will need an overhaul next.)

So as a bloggett, I find myself looking at a much bigger picture than I did before becoming a bloggett. I find that I am becoming a fiscal conservative, wanting us as a City to live as much as possible within its financial means.

Whereas before I would have said, “Kelly School at all cost, I don’t care what the cost is.” Now the picture to me is that the City has many options open to it because the City owns 4 very expensive pieces of property… the Brown School, the Kelly School, the Bresnahan School and the Cherry Hill property.

If the whole notion of neighborhood schools is taken out of the picture, then fiscally all kinds of practical solutions become an option.

Alas, a female blogging Darth Vader.

I seem to be becoming a practical bloggett, one who hopes (although from reading the Newburyport Daily News today, it may be a hope against hope) that the School Committee would rethink its position on the elementary school building, diamond necklace extravaganza, and take a different approach. An approach that takes the entire community into its equation.

I don’t want to feel railroaded (the way I felt railroaded into voting for the new Newburyport High School) into something that I do not feel is good for Newburyport, MA.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Aspiring Consultants for the Newburyport Political Blog

The frogs at Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall are in revolt. They think that since they are such a large voting block (they may be out of touch with reality here, as far as I know frogs can’t vote) that they now want more input and representation on the Newburyport Political Blog.

What chutzpa!

George Cushing, the political consultant for the Newburyport Political Blog, picked by moi, says he thinks that I’m being too closed minded and taking myself way too seriously. In fact, he accused me of being a control freak and not listening to important insights from huge “voting blocks” like the frogs from Frog Pond. (Can you believe it?)

The two frogs that would like to join the “team” (good grief) are C. G. Cushing and G. C Cushing– Caleb Gemstonian Cushing and Gemstonian Caleb Cushing.

Here is their picture.

twins.jpg
C. G. Cushing and G. C. Cushing
Aspiring consultants to the Newburyport Political Blog

They are twins. Can you guess? (What are their qualifications? Do they have legal degrees — that would be nice. I hope they don’t expect to be paid or want health insurance. Do frogs get health insurance?)

Frankly they appear to be a little young, if not very, very young. Plus they look goofy and sweet, bleh. I’m not sure “goofy and sweet” makes for insightful political insights. I mean, look at George Cushing, there’s nothing sweet about George that I’ve ever found out about.

George (the political consultant to the Newburyport Political Blog) says that he is more than willing to take them under his webbed feet and fingers and “mentor” them. He says that “looks can be deceiving,” and that just because I think C. G. and G. C. Cushing look twerpy, doesn’t mean that in fact they do not have keen political insight.

Good grief. Whose running the Newburyport Political Blog here anyway? The frogs from Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall or moi! Is this a “frog takeover?” Is it now going to be a “frog blog?”

mentor.jpg
George offering to mentor
C. G. Cushing and G. C. Cushing
by taking them under his webbed fingers and feet

As you can see from the above picture, George looks wily and wise in comparison to his two twerpy cousins.

However, just to show that I’m not an editor ogre, they can hang around and be “mentored” by George Cushing. And, ok, if they actually do have something intelligent to contribute, I’ll listen. Who knows, maybe now we’ll have twerpy frogs chiming in on the Newburyport Political Blog. Wouldn’t that be something?

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, The Waterfront Opus

The Mayor’s Task Force on the Waterfront also meets tonight (Police Station Conference Room, 6:00 PM) So many civic things going on ( yes, don’t forget the Public Hearing on the “Infill Ordinance” 7:30 PM, City Hall, City Council Chambers.) Let’s all run around in circles and try and figure out how to go to all these meetings plus get something to eat for dinner.

What will happen this time a la Waterfront Task Force — the latest episode in Newburyport’s enduring, multi-decade Waterfront saga.

This is the latest installment, of what may be one of the longest running ongoing “happening” (my, that dates me; you’ll just have to get out your dictionary or even revert to Googling if you have no idea what a “happening” was or maybe still is) in Newburyport’s (three, maybe four decades, one begins to lose track) civic drama.

This chapter stars Mayor John Moak, a former mayor and a surprise guest appearance by a long time, much loved (I gather) preservationist (you’ve noticed I’m leaving out names now, hoping that upset emails and phone calls will diminish??) The plot centers around the desire to pave over the Central Waterfront by apparently, it seems to me, clouding the issue with legal mumbo-jumbo. (Is this too catty of moi?)

The tension in this particular drama comes from a colorful brigade who are fighting for at least some semblance of a park on this gorgeous piece of priceless property along the scenic Merrimac River.

And then there’s the chorus, those in Newburyport who have seen the latest version of the new Waterfront possible plan and are saying “Say what? The green part is where?”

Can’t you just feel the conflict? Could this possibly be made into a PBS Special?

My prediction, is it won’t be picked up by PBS, alas, or even Bravo (frankly “Project Runway” was just so much more compelling.) And this act, like so many, many before it, (I hope) will end in a heap and a jumble. And when we have the next administration, we will have the enormous treat of having a whole new “plot” and the Waterfront saga may “entertain” us all by a never ending bevy of complete confusion.

The chorus of course will remain somewhat the same. It once said, “You want a parking garage where?” What will it say next? One thing that does seem for sure, three-part harmony (or any harmony at all for that matter) seems unlikely. Dissonance does appear to be the one unifying “note” on this ongoing, going on way more than a quarter of a century, emotionally charged, stunningly hapless Waterfront magnum opus.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Infill Ordinance Light

Public Hearing on the Zoning Amendment to Section 9 or the “Infill Ordinance.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Newburyport City Hall, 7:30 PM
City Council Chambers

==============

Property rights folks don’t get too upset, this is “Infill Ordinance Light.”

Basically if your average homeowner would like to build an addition or alteration that is bigger than 500 square feet for a “non-conforming” structure for either a one or two family home, they would need to come before the City for a “chat.”

(This version includes both one-family and two-family homes. The previous version only applied to two-family homes. This change came about at the request of members of the Newburyport City Council.)

The wording on the present draft of this zoning amendment has been changed from a “Finding” to a “Special Permit for Non-Conformities.”

Got to admit that a “Special Permit for Non-Conformities” sounds pretty scary, but actually it’s not.

A “Special Permit for Non-Conformities” is a pretty low bar. Basically it’s a “Finding” that’s recorded. It is NOT a Variance and it is NOT a Special Permit (which was in the first version that got shot down by the Newburyport City Council) which are both much higher bars.

As I understand it, what this version does is to require that the homeowner or developer notify the neighbors and come in front of the City for a “chat” to try and make sure that whatever is going to be built is not only good for the homeowner, but is also in keeping with the local neighborhood character.

And frankly, good grief, if we as a City can’t even pass “Infill Ordinance Light,” what hope do we have of even remotely retaining our historic and neighborhood character. These are the qualities that make us so economically vibrant (even in bad economic times) and is why people want to come and live, work, visit and play in Newburyport, MA.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Special Education

Editor’s note: (How about that, an editor’s note at the beginning, instead of the end of a post.)

Ellen Chambers came to speak at Newburyport, MA.

This an excerpt from an article in the Boston Globe June 4, 2006 By Matt Gunderson explaining who Ellen Chambers is:

“Chambers considers herself lucky, but hasn’t stopped combating a statewide system that, she claims, pulled her daughter into a downward spiral. In January (2006,) Chambers formed SpEdWatch, Inc., which she says is the state’s first watchdog group on special education across the state.

Advocacy for individual special education students is not new, but a proactive organization tackling systemic issues within special education is, said Chambers.”

Apparently SpEdWatch, Inc. now has representation in over 70 communities consisting of parents, educators and other special education professionals from across the state.

This is a response from Beth Hall to Ellen Chambers’ visit.

Hi Mary,

Thrilled does not begin to describe how I felt when I discovered Ellen Chambers’ SpEdWatch. I was one of roughly 30 people that attended the SpEdWatch meeting lead by Ellen Chambers in Newburyport a couple of weeks ago.

362 or 15% of Newburyport students have some type of learning disability. Raising awareness of what it is like for the children and families that face different types of learning issues is important for many reasons.

The fact is that 98% of children that have been diagnosed with a learning disability have as much potential to succeed and be productive as kids without disabilities.

Thank you to Ellen Chambers for coming to Newburyport to present informative facts. And thank you to everyone who came to that meeting as well as those who show their continued support for children with learning disabilities.

Beth Tremblay Hall
Newburyport

Newburyport, George Says Kudos to the Mayor

Such a dreary, wet New England day… sigh.

George (the political consultant for the Newburyport Political Blog) decided to take a cushy flop and contemplate the state of the city or whatever frogs contemplate when they sit on a bunch of pillows– good grief, pretty cushy for George Cushing.

george.pillow.1.jpg
George Cushing being cushy

Apparently George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall has decided to turn his contemplation to Nancy Colbert our new (I think as of tonight when I hope, I think it’s this meeting, the Newburyport City Council gives this young lady the thumbs up) Newburyport Planning Director.

You see George knew Nancy way back when (when she was Newburyport Planning Director, before) because he was dwelling at Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall when the Bartlett Mall was beginning renovation to its historic High Street state.

And like many a project, embarkment often comes with some sort of complaining at some point (George, is trying to figure out if there is a exception to this… he’s contemplating.) And, it is George’s opinion that Ms Colbert handled the touchy parties quite deftly. So he likes her. Plus she contributed to making his home nice, so, of course, he likes her a lot.

george.pillow.2.jpg
George getting serious now
even though he’s still on a pillow

George and the frogs at Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall have been very supportive of Newburyport’s Planning Office and they do hope that that could continue to be the case.

It seems to George that Ms Colbert may well be a soothing balm on often cantankerous procedures. And his (and mine of course) great hope is that parties involved will calm down enough to find some sort of common ground and the City could begin to move forward with foresight and intelligence.

A very good choice by Mayor John Moak. Kudos to the Mayor– job/pick for job well done.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Other People’s Money

It seems that for the most part the folks who have moved to Newburyport, MA “recently,” make a whole lot more money than the folks who moved here let’s say 12 years ago, a real whole lot more money than the folks who moved let’s say here 22 years ago, and an off the charts more money than folks who moved here let’s say 32 years ago and most “natives.”

That brings me to the Elementary School Building Needs thing again. The scope of the money involved for the proposed “needs” is in my mind off the charts. If I were going to be catty, I would say that it was completely out of touch with reality.

To demolish the Brown School and build a new one? Say what? Two major renovations to the Bresnahan School plus a brand new school on the Cherry Hill property? Excuse me?

Myopic (which ironically means “showing a lack of foresight or long-term planning”) is a “polite” term that comes to mind.

Eventually, I figured we would be presented with 1 elementary school to be built and paid for, but 3 new ones? Good grief no!

The thing about civics is that it is messy. We have what for Newburyport is a recent influx of “wealthy” young families who would, it sounds like, like first class facilities for their children (who wouldn’t.) However, Newburyport still has a socio-economic mix of folks, which I think is a GOOD thing. It’s one of the things I really love about this place and wish we had more of it. It has given this town a down to earth quality, which is why many of us moved here in the first place. Wellesley (sorry Wellesley) I never want us to be you.

(There is always the “choice” of choicing one’s children to Hamilton –Wenham or wherever…wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened, or the myriad of private schools on the North Shore…people have thought of that one before.)

What I’m hearing is that our Newburyport City Council seem to understand that huge amounts of money for 3 elementary schools might not go over well at all.

Not only might it not go over well, but it would most probably, if has not already, create an enormous resentment towards the young families who are pushing for such a proposal. Not good.

One would like to embrace our young families and work together as a community, young, old and middle aged, instead of feeling as if one faction is thinking of diminishing other factions of their hard earned, worked for money.

So it would be my very strong suggestion for the Elementary Building Needs folks to consider its “needs” within context of the “needs” of the entire community as well, young, middle aged, old alike.

A compromise, yes. This proposal would be to invite major setbacks for the Newburyport School System. Period.

My guess is that people’s instinct would be not only to vote against this proposal, but be so angry that it was even proposed in the first place, that any proposal would not be trusted or voted for unless this one is pulled off the table ASAP.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Elementary Schools

Elementary School Building Needs…sigh.

I don’t think the proposed Elementary School Building Needs thing has a chance of happening. 2 very “liberal” Newburyport City Councilors counseled (the Newburyport Daily News, November 7, 2006) that this new very elaborate, very, very expensive Elementary Building Needs thing wasn’t going to go over real big with your average tax payer. Amen to that. Me personally, I wouldn’t even think of going there.

Seems to me there are two options here.

One… if the community elementary school thing is important to folks (it always seemed important to the kids, the parents and the sense of community it fostered) that making due and scrunching in existing space is probably in order. Sorry, not the news some most probably wanted to hear. (Outrage in local cyberspace.)

Two… if brand new spanking, sparkling facilities are what is in wanted, then most probably a Walmart size elementary school at the Cherry Hill property is in order (that’s why the Cherry Hill property is there, I think.) The Kelly could be sold for big bucks. The Bresnahan could be sold for big bucks (hopefully to someone who would keep the neighborhood character in mind, maybe the playing fields could stick around for community and school purposes.) The Brown School could be sold for big bucks. Ditto on keeping the community character thing.

All of that selling of unbelievably expensive real estate, coupled with eventual state funds (40% — 60%) might make the tax payer more inclined to build a brand new fancy facility.

Plus 1 of each administrative positions etc is cheaper than 3.

A capital improvement plan for the Elementary, Middle and High Schools, tough but needed.

Having cake and eating it too, i.e. community schools (3 of them? Demolished and new at the Brown? 2 major renovations at the Bresnahan? A brand new spanking at Cherry Hill? [Newburyport Daily News, November 7, 2006] I don’t think so!) plus new and fancy is going to be a very hard sell. I’m not buying.

A very fancy Newburyport High School just happened and the wait in line for a Senior Center, much less parking for who knows what or where, not to mention all the other endless expensive stuff, is very real.

Sorry, practical, fiscal conservative — surprise!

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Giving Up?

I have a lot of friends who are for the first time seriously talking about leaving Newburyport, MA. Believe me, it has occurred to me too.

A friend of mine said, “Newburyport is at a crossroads, it is either going to go this way or that.” And we both said at the same time, “probably ‘that.’”

The people I talk to, although they don’t articulate it this way, feel that Newburyport already has, or is on the verge of losing its “soul.”

In one of my most favorite books “Healing and the Mind” by Bill Moyers, Rachel Naomi Remen talks about 4 steps: “show up, pay attention, tell the truth and don’t be attached to the results.”

Somewhere I believe Ms Remen makes the remark that the most difficult step is to “show up.”

The people who I hear talk about leaving Newburyport, MA (or who frankly have already left) have been here for a while. They have “shown up,” they have “paid attention” and they have told their own kind of “truth.”

What appears to be so hard is the “not being attached to the results” part, especially when the results aren’t anything like the way even the most vaguest expectations might expect.

They are tired. Bone weary.

And if I end up staying, much less continue the Newburyport Political Blog, “letting go of the results;” accepting “this” or “that” would be obligatory.

I can continue to “show up,” “pay attention” and “speak up,” but there is no controlling the outcome, Newburyport is far too complex and multi-determined for that one.

The choice appears to be “acceptance” or find some place else to live. I would hope Newburyport has been home for far too long for me to really permanently want to high-tail it out of this place.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Public School Importance

Alas alack, my computer crashed, it’s come back from computer hospital, hopefully, whatever ailed it, it will aspire to keep it and other stuff at bay.

Ah, and yes, I high-tailed it to New York City, the place of my birth (no I’m not a native of Newburyport, anyone who has heard me lapse into a New Yawk ackcent knows I’m not a borner.)

I went to see my son, most favorite son, open first time ever, just out of college in an off (off) Broadway production of Shakespeare no less. The romantic prince in “The Winter’s Tale.”

The prince falls in love with a lowly shepherdess, who turns out happily, to be a true princess and “alls well that ends well.” Luckily for my son’s handsomest character.

(Now this “alls well that ends well” business — only in Shakespeare, only with an amazing amount of faith, complete oblivion, or an ability to be totally out of touch with reality. In my youth of course I would have an answer to that question right away. In my middle age, I have no clue.)

And for all those wonderful teachers all through the Newburyport Public School system who would say to my son, “remember me when…(you get to the Oscars, you get to Broadway, you get to whatever…) you can go see good old Hal Fickett in his role as the handsome love-interest.

He has been embraced by The Hipgnosis Theatre Company. (“Hip” meaning, “hip” as in slang “hip.” “Gnosis” meaning “journey towards enlightenment through self-knowledge and personal exploration.” So nice to have “depth” in a superficial world.) Website and ticket information: www.hipgnosistheatre.org.

The play and its amazing talented cast, director and crew, runs from November 2-November 19 at the Access Theatre 380 Broadway, NYC. Run, do not walk. And tickets are actually reasonable, even by Newburyport standards.

So all of those parents who despair about the Newburyport Public School system, here is a young man who manage “toot suit” (that’s mangled French for “right away”) to land an off (off) Broadway role with a very cool company.

And please don’t say to me “Oh, but it was so much different when YOUR child was in school. ” Well frankly, my child was one of those “sacrifice children,” the ones who scrunched into the Middle School during those very important High School years so that others might have the delight of the spanking new sparkling High School facility. So don’t “complain to me Argentina.”

And herein lies my unending point, that it is NOT the facility that is of greatest importance (although nice), but the PEOPLE who guide, teach, exhort within.

My son’s many guardian angles at the Newburyport High School helped make this ongoing, going event, eventful. And for them I am deeply grateful.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Newburyport, Preservation and Blogging Peril

You know what else I’m pissed about. I’m pissed that so many people are upset that I used a certain verb on the Newburyport Political Blog.

That verb can also mean, “plunder,” “despoliation” as in “the — of the countryside.” Which was how I meant it by the way.

Ok, I’ll admit it was a little over the top, but that’s as over the top as I’ve ever gotten on the Newburyport Political Blog, for crying out loud.

And it does feel like that is exactly what could happen to the back of the Wheelwright property, so there.

The subdivision in question would be right next to the Oak Hill Cemetery, a dignified and sacred place. According to the Newburyport Daily News, a 34-acre burial ground for many of Newburyport’s beloved ancestors, including the Wheelwright family and I believe 175 sea captains and 29 mayors. Not Shabby.

In the Newburyport Current, Friday, October 27, 2006, Nathan Felde is right when he says, “Barbecues and burials don’t go together.”

Mr. Felde is correct again; the area is the “soul” of Newburyport, MA.

Ester Macomber, who is a dear, dear lady, as well as being very well respected in this New England seaside community, in the same article calls the plan “ridiculous.”

Mrs Macomber has protected her huge piece of land on the back of the Ridge so that it can never be built on. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is and setting a great example for her neighbors on High Street. Bless this wonderful woman.

And if the developer, Todd Fremont-Smith (that’s in the Newburyport Current too) thinks that only the neighbors are upset, he might not have things quite in perspective yet. From what I’m getting, almost the entire town is outraged.

Will this finally be the wakeup call that the residents of Newburyport, MA need? We can no longer take our historic heritage for granted.

If Mr. Fremont-Smith and company are “aware of the legitimate preservation issues and are trying very much to be respectful,” (the Newburyport Current again) then one of his options could be that he could sell that piece of property to the folks who are apparently going to do right by the Wheelwright House and gardens, put a deed restriction on it and make sure it goes to the Essex County Green Belt.

He won’t make any money that way, but at least he’d be able to live in town or even New England without people wanting to picket in front of his home.

You see this is where I get into trouble. (George Cushing the political consultant for the Newburyport Political Blog is scrunching his nose and looking at me with those beady little eyes of his. He does not want me to put myself in peril.)

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George pleading with me not to put myself in peril

I’m blogging about money. Lots and lots of money is at stake here. And people don’t like people saying they shouldn’t make lots and lots of money on a particular piece of property.

But this is no ordinary piece of property; this literally verges on sacred ground. It’s been written about extensively now in the Newburyport Current and the Newburyport Daily News, so I hope I’m safe on the “being sued thing” here. George is not so sure.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport