Monthly Archives: January 2012

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.

George’s Take on Happy in Newburyport

George pondering the relationship between The Newburyport Blog and the website Happy in Newburyport

George pondering the relationship between The Newburyport Blog and the website Happy in Newburyport

George Cushing, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog has pointed something out to me.  He has pointed out that I am not showing up for the stuff that I am blogging about on Google, the way I used to, even a week ago, and the fact that traffic to the Newburyport Blog is down. Instead, George points out to me, that the “headlines,” “titles” that I’ve been writing recently are showing up for something called “Happy in Newburyport,” and he and I and The Newburyport Blog are somewhere way down the list in Google world.

Who knew that George was such a tech-savvy frog?

So George and I have a chat.  This is the thing, the owner of Happy in Newburyport contacted me because he wanted to promote the Newburyport Blog on his new website, Happy in Newburyport.  “Fine, fine, fine,” says moi.  And I explain to George that this was a very nice compliment, I just didn’t expect that Google would now find me semi-irrelevant.

I also explain to George, now George is looking at me very puzzled, that the owner John Wells is a realtor in Newburyport that not only sells, but actually appreciates historic homes.

Well, George likes this.

And I tell George, that John Wells is a realtor that is now standing up for Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD), which is a very nice thing, since I’ve been getting a lot of (mean spirited) flack lately (vast understatement)… if you consider being called a “Nazi controlling zealot,” flack.  And that it is very refreshing to have a realtor in Newburyport stand up in a no-nonsense sort of way and speak out very strongly about the LHD.

George ponders with some pensiveness this piece of information, so I show George the comment that John Wells wrote on the Petition in Support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District, which you can sign here… :

As a Real Estate Broker, I feel that protecting the appearance of Newburyport historic homes is important to maintaining everyone’s real estate values in town. I am also comfortable with the layers of controls in the proposal that will ensure that the commission members do not have unreasonable power over homeowners and will be replaced on a regular basis while being selected from a pool of citizens of varying interests. We cannot leave future development to chance!”

And then later Mr. Wells is even more emphaphatic:

I urge everyone who believes in the future of Newburyport to step forward and support this action. The opposition to it is completely based on ignorance of how this is set up to work – there are checks and balances and property owner interests are not thrown out the window as they would have you believe. If you are concerned, the details are online at http://cityofnewburyport.com/Planning/lhd.html.”

George really ponders this one.  And we decide that it is very nice to have someone in the Newburyport real estate world that so fiercely defends Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD), and that we will monitor and ponder the fate of how Google thinks about The Newburyport Blog in light of this new semi, sort of partnership with Happy in Newburyport.

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.

Petition in Support of Newburyport’s Local Historic District

The corner of State and Pleasant Street

The corner of State and Pleasant Street

There is now an online petition in support of Newburyport’s propsed Local Historic District (LHD).  You can find the petition online here.

The petition is very simple:

Support a Local Historic District for Newburyport

In support of creating a Local Historic District (LHD) for Newburyport, Massachusetts.

“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.”

Wording In the Newburyport LHD Ordinance That Would Protect High Street

In 1999 MassHighway almost destroyed High Street (see earlier post here).

I am beyond thrilled.  The Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD) Study Committee has voted to include wording in the proposed draft ordinance to protect High Street, the actual roadway,  if a federal or state grant funding project, to take care of  High Street, ever triggers “major alterations,” the way it did in 1999. It took an exhausting  city wide effort, to stop MassHighway from destroying High Street back in 1999, which would have effected everyone’s property values, especially the houses on High Street. We as a city would never have to go through what we went through in 1999!!

Here is the draft wording that would go in the draft of the proposed LHD ordinance:

Draft language for section of Newburyport Historic District Ordinance

6 – COMMISSION POWERS AND DUTIES

6.7: If a “Major Alteration” is proposed for the public way of High Street, the Commission shall provide design review, consultation, and recommendations during the planning, preliminary design, final design, and construction stages.  While the Commission will not have the authority to grant or deny a permit for such a project, any municipal or state proponent of such a Major Alteration project is required to notify and work with the Commission from the earliest planning stages of the project.  “Major Alterations” are defined as changes to the curb-line, width, and alignment of High Street; the removal of ten or more street trees as part of a single project unless they are designated as hazard trees by the Tree Warden; the removal of a hundred or more linear feet of brick sidewalk and replacement with another material as part of a single project; and the installation of ten or more new signs as part of a single project, and other such alterations of similar magnitude and impact. Paving, striping, utility work within the existing road footprint, sidewalk repair, re-setting curbs in existing alignment, incremental signage alterations, street tree pruning, and other such maintenance and alterations are not defined as “Major Alterations” and will not require the level of consultation and review anticipated by this ordinance.  The purpose of such review, consultation, and monitoring by the Commission will be to broadly maintain and restore the distinctive historic character and alignment of High Street while balancing contemporary vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle transportation and safety needs as well as universal access requirements.

Moving an Old House

I remember when I saw the large new house go in on High Road in Newbury, (that joins 2 big parcels) at the corner of Little’s Lane and thinking to myself “Ut-oh.”  Thinking it’s too butt close to that old house near the Spencer-Pierce-LIttle Farm, and I bet, I thought to myself, someone, somewhere down the line is going to want to take it down, i.e. demolish that old house.

And it appears that the new owners of 1 Little’s Lane who now own both houses, bottom line, want it way far away from their property, whether it’s adios demolished it, or adios move it.

So I was curious what Historic New England’s policy was on moving old houses, since that’s who owns the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm and who the owner says that they offered it to. I found this on their website.

“To those eager to redevelop the site of an old house, moving seems the fastest way to free up the parcel without appearing unreasonable or insensitive to the history and character of the existing building. But to preservationists, extracting a building from the site where it was built is troubling on many levels. Moving a house off site divorces it from the many material and cultural associations that are intrinsic to its history: its ownership sequence, topographic and historical setting, even the archaeological evidence buried in and around its site, all contribute to the authenticity, the “real-ness,” of the building. Moving can trivialize a building, turning it into an artifact, or souvenir. Normally, relocation also requires destroying elements that are too fragile, deteriorated, or bulky to move with the building.”

You can read the whole thing here.

A Challenge to our Newburyport City Councilors

It’s been my experience that folks have a visceral and for the most part almost immediate reaction to the idea of a Local Historic District (LHD) for Newburyport.  My challenge to our Newburyport City Councilors would be this,  when folks come up to you in the street or wherever, party, place you are trying to have a cup of coffee, you get the idea, and they tell you that they are either “against” or “for” Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD), ask them what they like or do not like about the proposed ordinance.  It would be my guess that most folks haven’t read the ordinance and may not know much about it, and that would lead to  the beginning of a conversation, that might end up creating a more careful evaluation.

Newburyport Federal Street Overlay and Historic Protection

The William Bartlett House, part of the Federal Street Overlay

The William Bartlett House, part of the Federal Street Overlay

If by some miracle 1 Little’s Lane does not get demolished (see previous post) you can bet your booties that it’s because all sorts of talented and dedicated folks are probably working behind the scenes.

And it’s always that way. Every time one of our historic assets are threatened in Newburyport (now in Newbury) all sorts of folks spring into action, and sometimes it turns out well and sometimes it does not.

One of the best win-win situations in my book is the Federal Street Overlay.  When the Catholic Church first decided to sell the St. Louis De Gonzague French Catholic Church and the surrounding land and two very historic brick buildings, at the end of Federal Street, to say there were no guarantees, would be an understatement.

There was a lot of talk about a large 40B housing project going in on that land, and no one in particular with any authority was talking about saving those two stately brick homes.

The back of the William Johnson House, part of the Federal Street Overlay

The back of the William Johnson House, part of the Federal Street Overlay

We just got stupid lucky.  We happened to get a very proactive planning director,  who negotiated with the Catholic Church and goodness knows who else,  and for most people, voila, the Federal Street Overlay came about.  But it took an enormous amount of time by a whole lot of people to make that project happen, and to restore those two gorgeous homes, the William Bartlett House and the William Johnson house.

I know on the little street where I live, it took an enormous amount of people and time to negotiate the project that is finally there now.

So when people tell me, things are fine, nothing happens to historic homes, we don’t need an LHD.  I’ve been behind the scenes enough to know that when an historic property is threatened and there is a happy ending, it is due to an tremendous amount of work by an untold amount of folks, who didn’t get any credit.  It’s like putting out one fire at a time.  And sometimes historic homes don’t make it.  And if Newburyport had an LHD, and I’m talking about “LHD-light,” it would be blanket insurance for the proposed area, those historic homes on High Street and Newburyport’s downtown.

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.

George and Showing Up

George Cushing, the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog concerned about moi.

George Cushing, the political consultant for the Newburyport Blog concerned about moi.

George Cushing, the political consultant to the Newburyport Blog has expressed concern for moi.

Of course George and I discussed the whole fight for Newburyport’s proposed LHD, and blogging about it on the Newburyport Blog, much less “Save Newburyport-Support a Local Historic District.”   And we both thought that it would get pretty wild. I keep explaining to George, because he wasn’t around then, I mean, he wasn’t even born then, he’s a frog for goodness sakes, that when I got involved with the fight to save historic High Street back in 1999 I was a green (George is green, but not that kind of green) political newbie with a pretty thin skin (George has thin skin, he’s a frog).  I think almost a decade and a half later, working on different political projects for the City of Newburyport, and blogging the Newburyport Blog, now going on my 7th year, that, I hope, I’m a little tougher.

And believe it or not, even though I may not agree with people who are opposed to the proposed LHD, I admire anyone who shows up and cares.

For Newburyport’s LHD, Conspiracy Theories Just Don’t Fit

I totally agree with the P.Preservationist.  When it comes to advocating for Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) one cannot have a rational back and forth discussion with folks who bring in an expert from the John Birch Society, to explain a conspiracy theory about the United Nations (UN) hatching a social engineering plot about lowering the standard of living for all Americans, and linking that to historic preservation and a proposed Local Historic District in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  (I am not making this up, see previous post.)

Newburyport, Creepy is Us

It would be hard to make this stuff up. It appears that this is being fairly aggressively advanced by our own Newburyport Republican Committee.

An information session on Agenda 21 by leading expert, Hal Shurtleff (who is a member of the John Birch Society).

“Join Bill (Hudak) at the Newburyport RTC (Republican Town Committee) Meeting at Stripers (January 12, 2012 7:00pm – 9:00pm)  in Salisbury for an important information meeting regarding Agenda 21.

Throughout our Country, in MA, and right now in Newburyport, the rights of homeowners are under attack with increased momentum. This is not a coincidence. Please read below to learn about the factors that result in fewer property rights for families across America.

Agenda 21 has infiltrated Newburyport as well as hundreds of other towns. Elected Mayors and town officials are solicited and encouragement (often with taxpayer funded grants) to participate in the many Agenda 21 programs. These programs often come to a city with nice names like The Green Communities Act, Sustainable Development, and ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability). They result in mandates like stretch building codes and the mentality that accepts powerful local historic districts (my emphasis). These organizations appear locally driven, but they represent the coordination of local governments by global entities and the U.N. with social engineering as a true objective.

Mayors and city legislatures may not comprehend what they are endorsing when committing a city to an Agenda 21 Program. Regardless of the specific Agenda 21 program, citizens soon realize their choices become limited, homeowner rights are restricted, and they lose economic progress in their city.” The quote can be read here.

It would be hard for me to believe that any Democrat in my city of Newburyport would feel this way. The Republican website (Bill Hudak for US Congress) points to a website written by Rosa Koire for more information. Rosa Koire has also written exactly the same thing on another website.

“In a nutshell, the plan calls for governments to take control of all land use and not leave any of the decision making in the hands of private property owners.  It is assumed that people are not good stewards of their land and the government will do a better job if they are in control.  Individual rights in general are to give way to the needs of communities as determined by the governing body.  Moreover, people should be rounded up off the land and packed into human settlements, or islands of human habitation, close to employment centers and transportation.  Another program, called the Wildlands Project spells out how most of the land is to be set aside for non-humans.

U.N. Agenda 21 cites the affluence of Americans as being a major problem which needs to be corrected.  It calls for lowering the standard of living for Americans so that the people in poorer countries will have more, a redistribution of wealth.”

And this is being used as a way to fight against the proposed Local Historic District in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

For me this is beyond a “good grief.”

Editor’s note:  New York Times article, February 4, 1012, ”Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot,” here.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/us/activists-fight-green-projects-seeing-un-plot.html

Walking and Talking and Listening about Newburyport’s Local Historic District

As I‘ve walked around Newburyport since October 2011, when either I run into people I know and/or people that I know vaguely, I ask them what their thoughts are about Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

I’ve run into two people, that’s all, who are strong property rights folks, and are against it.  Both conversations were very rational and informative.

Mostly I run into a lot of people who say, “I don’t know, I think I’m against it.”  And then we have a conversation.

I have asked folks what specifically in the proposed guidelines and the draft of the ordinance they may not like, and it has emerged that the folks that I’ve been talking to haven’t looked at the information.  So I started talking about some of the things that are in the proposed LHD, and most of the time folks say that’s not problem, but what about this.  Sometimes I can answer the question, a lot of times I cannot.  Usually the conversation ends with whoever I’ve talked to, saying that they want to find out more about the proposed LHD,  and I tell them where to find the information on the City of Newburyport’s website. I ask them to go to the public hearing on the LHD, when it is scheduled, where they can ask questions and express their concerns.

And then I run into people who are for the Local Historic District. When they tell me that they are for the LHD, I usually spontaneously give them a hug.

My hope is that somehow as a city we can find a balance between honoring people’s property rights and protecting our historic assets.  And the process is just in the beginning stages. The city has conducted 2 informational meetings, sent the proposed draft of the LHD ordinance to the Massachusetts Historical Commission for review.  Now there will be (not yet scheduled) a public hearing, where hopefully people will have educated themselves about the particulars of the proposed LHD ordinance (and not just scream, “NO”), and ask questions and express concerns.  And then it goes to the Newburyport City Council, where it is expected to go into “committee.”  And then there will be more meetings, and hashing out of what would work in the proposed draft of the LHD.  It all depends on how the City Council decides to run those meetings.  Sometimes, in fact a lot of times, the public is allowed to give feedback.  And then, the final draft of the LHD ordinance comes up for a vote in the Newburyport City Council.

So now it’s time to learn as much as possible about the proposed draft LHD (which has already been “tweaked” in response to initial public input.)  And the hope is for a civil, rational, constructive and productive public dialogue on this very important issue.

Rooting for Newburyport’s Local Historic District

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 lhdsc@cityofnewburyport.com 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.

The Comment Section of the Newburyport Daily News

The comment section of the Newburyport Daily News on the pro-LHD Letters to the Editor–Oy Vey!!

I’ve been told that when real names are required, that people are a lot more civil.  In fact I was told this my my fellow blogger Tom Salemi over at Newburyport Posts, who is a master at the whole comment thing.

I would love it if the Newburyport Daily News would require real names and and check them the way they do with Letters to the Editor.  I think the “conversation” taking place would be a lot more constructive.

Would people be so nasty and sometimes just downright vicious if they had to put their real (verified) name and maybe a real photo, so people would know what they look like?

Would the folks who make those less than civil remarks, make them to the people’s face, in front of other folks, let’s say on the street, in front of witnesses?

I’d like the commenters that comment on the pro-LHD Letters to the Editor (as of today there have been 20, you can count them here), to “man-up” and not hide behind anonymity.

Service, Helping and Fixing

I looked back at my blog and I came across a post about “Service, Fixing and Helping.”

It was lessons from my father, who taught me about the gift of “service,” which is different than “fixing” and “helping.”  In “helping” and “fixing” one could often see individuals and institutions as being weaker than oneself, and people could feel diminished.

My father taught me that “service” honors life, and the wholeness and holiness of life.

The feeling that I get about Newburyport’s  proposed Local Historic District (LHD), is that some people seem to feel “diminished” by the prospect of “being told what to do” by some outside entity, i.e., a proposed Local Historic District Commission.

The way I see a Local Historic District for Newburyport, is that the LHD would be of “service” to our city.  The way a city or town looks from the outside reflects the internal spirit of the people who live there.  Historic homes and places remind one that we honor the people who have gone before us, and that what we do now lives on after us. That an historic place embodies a spirit of respect for the past, and responsibility for the present and for the future.

To embrace protecting the history of our city by enacting a Local Historic District, Newburyport would embrace ensuring that the spirit and soul of this place, that we all love so much, would endure to enrich and bless people’s lives now and in the future.

High Street-Newburyport, It is in Danger

63 High Street, Newburyport, MA, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

63 High Street, Newburyport, MA, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

One of the things that I often hear opponents of Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD) say, is that no one would ever hurt High Street.

I came across an article written in March 2007, that talks about 63 High Street (which can be read here).  The home, gorgeous home, was saved from a potential developer who wanted to tear it down and build condos.  The present owner, not only restored the home, but also the fence.  It is a gorgeous home and a gorgeous fence, and the fence is also part of the historic fabric of Newburyport, and would have been so easy to tear down (apparently along with the rest of the property!)

This home is on the the high side of High Street called the “Ridge,” where the land stretches way back.  Below is a map of the land that goes along with 63 High Street.  One can only imagine what a developer could do with all that land.

Map of land of 63 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

Map of land of 63 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

And 63 High Street is just one of many, the land in back of the houses on the Ridge side of High Street is extensive,  and one of my fears is that it’s just a matter of time before developers develop that land back there, and Newburyport, you can just kiss your economic value goodbye.  And that day will arrive, it will happen piece by piece, little by little, hardly noticeable at first, and then one day, like other parts of historic Newburyport, “Wow, what happened?”

And one of the things that also worries me about High Street is that people would want to build in front of those stately houses.

Map of the land at 347 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

Map of the land at 347 High Street, Courtesy of the City of Newburyport

Never happen you say.  Not so.  On June 7, 2006 the owners of 347 High Street came before the Newburyport Planning Board to “discuss” putting a second home in front of the existing home that is further up on the Ridge.  It didn’t happen in 2006, but it wasn’t because a homeowner didn’t try.  The minutes for that meeting can be read here (page 4).

High Street not in danger??  As Mark Twain said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”

Newburyport, Downtown and the LHD

Ken Woods wrote an outstanding piece in yesterday’s Newburyport Daily News.

Mr. Woods began his piece by saying, “A wise friend told me no good deed goes unpunished. Well, here goes anyway.”  And the comments slammed, very ungraciously, his most excellent piece.  Mr. Woods, thank you, “You did good.”

One of the things that I get asked all the time is, “Show me examples of how the architectural fabric of Newburyport has been abused.”

Believe me, that is not a problem, but people live in these homes, and, at the very worst, I don’t want to be sued, and at the very least, I don’t want to get a whole bunch of very “upset” emails and/or phone calls.  (If I had a legal team and got paid reams of money for writing the Newburyport Blog, that might be different, but it just being me-now for 6 years as of January 1st, going on 7, I might add, I still like the possibility of continuing being the editor of the Newburyport Blog.)

But Ken Woods points out something so important, and I think I’ll quote him, I hope he would not mind.

“For those who need a good reason for creating a Local Historic District in Newburyport, you need look no farther than the new penthouse atop the Bracket Heel Building at 7 Prince Place. Looking north down State Street from High Street, the new penthouse is more than visible and clearly has no place on our historic skyline. I personally have the added displeasure of seeing this penthouse every single time I head west down my own street. There is good reason to believe this penthouse would not have been built had an LHD been in place.

No words are needed to justify adopting the Local Historic District as proposed for our beautiful city. The reason is right in front of you — just look up.” (Ken Woods, Letter to the Editor, January 2, 2012, Newburyport Daily News, to read the whole letter, please press here.)

People tell me that nobody would hurt downtown Newburyport.  Well they have, and they will, and Mr. Woods has pointed out one very recent example, and if there is not Local Historic District for Newburyport, you bet there will be more.  (And this is a developer, not a homeowner, and if anyone thinks that developers have Newburyport’s best interest at heart, they are wrong.  Developers need to make money, and money is the bottom line, not historic preservation.)

A list of all the Letters to the Editor in the Newburyport Daily News concerning Newburyport’s Local Historic District can be seen here.