I‘ve written a Letter to the Editor in favor of Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD). It hasn’t appeared yet.
And after seeing the thrashing that takes place (often very personal) in the comment section of the Newburyport Daily News to people who write pro-LHD Letters to the Editor, I am feeling a certain amount of dread.
One of the things that I imagine will be pointed out, because it was pointed out about another couple who wrote in favor of the LHD, is that, at the moment I do not live in an historic home. At the moment I live in 1950’s infill, and my home is not in the proposed LHD.
Yesterday when I was walking and talking, someone asked me why I am bothering to support Newburyport’s proposed LHD.
In 1999 MassHighway almost destroyed historic High Street, and I was part of the fight that stopped MassHighway from harming the roadway. It was through that process that I became passionate about the historic quality and beauty of High Street and learned, for the first time, about the possibility of an LHD, and how a Local Historic District would help to preserve the beauty and historic quality that not only enriches my soul, but also as the gateway to Newburyport, is vital to the city’s economy.
I have had the privilege of living in 2 historic homes, both are included in the prosed LHD. And I thought to myself, how would I feel if I was still living there, especially if I had not been involved in or followed Newburyport’s civic process.
I think my first reaction would be one of panic, I get this, that someone was going to control where I lived, my home, my personal sanctuary. Then, when I calmed down, I think I would want to know exactly what was involved, what “they were going to do to me.” I would go to the city’s website and read everything about the proposed Local Historic District.
And then when I read the draft and the guidelines, there would be somethings that I would agree with and somethings that I would not agree with. I would and do disagree about not being allowed to have skylights in the proposed LHD ordinance. I think that the ordinance needs to reflect how people live today, and in an old home, the attic is a place where families can expand, and a skylight allows expansion without changing the roofline of the home.
The other major question I would have is windows and lead paint. I love old windows and the wavy glass, but what about the price and possibility of actually removing lead paint from historic windows? That would be a real concern of mine.
And hopefully, I would contact the LHD Study Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org and contact my Newburyport City Councilor with my specific concerns, go to the public hearing and express those specific concerns, and trust that the City of Newburyport and the Local Historic District Study Committee is sensitive enough to public opinion to not only listen to those concerns, but to actually do something about them.