Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tom Salemi’s Latest Posts

I like the last two posts over at Tom Salemi’s Newburyport Posts.

The first one  “Give it Time,” on Jared Eigerman’s immensely sane Letter to the Editor in the Newburyport Daily News.

Our hope is that the councilors can cut through the noise and emotion and debate the pros and cons of the LHD concept rationally.”

And Tom’s second one today, “Wasn’t them” the decisive response in today’s Newburyport Daily News to what Tom labels “one of the oddest letters of the LHD debate,” which, as he points out, got 10 comments, and Tom wonders:

“Ah, the end of Anontyranny. Anonymousity?

Still working on it….”

Fear and Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD)

I walk down the street and I see her sweeping in front of her Newburyport home.  I call her name, but not until I call out, “Hey beautiful, what you do’n,” does my friend turn her head. She’s one of the first people I ever knew when I moved here 31 years ago.

My neighbor, way back then, was a crusty old guy, and my friend was the sister of his very longtime girl friend, Ollie.

“What’s go’n on Mary?”

“I don’t know, what’s go’n on?”

My friend shrugs.

Me, “The LHD.”

“You for it or against it?”

“Advocating for it.”

“That’s the one where they want to tell you what to do with your home.”

Not the first time I’ve heard this by a long shot. “It’s mainly to prevent people from tearing down old homes.”

“That’s not such a bad thing, is it.”

“Nope,” I say “And no one’s going to come into anyone’s home. And no one is going to tell anyone what color they can paint their house.”

A little tension goes out of my friend’s shoulders, and we change the subject.

She tells me she turned 87, and we reminisce about her sister and my crusty old neighbor Jim.

Tomato Plant

Tomato Plant

Jim and Ollie used to have a huge garden (a real old time neighborhood garden) up on Johnson Street, on the land on the left as you’re walking down the hill towards the Nock Middle School.  All built up now.  I always wish that I had painted the portrait, or at least taken pictures to paint a portrait one day, of Ollie and Jim, sitting on the side of his old beat up dark green van, the side where the door slid open, in the middle of the huge vegetable field.  They were a great, almost iconic Newburyport pair.

Cutworm damage

Cutworm damage

So Jim knew a lot about gardening, and laughed and laughed at me when my little tomato plants in my tiny Newburyport backyard were felled by cutworms. (I’m from New York City, who knew from cut worms?).

And Jim came over and told me how to put a ring of paper around the stems of my little tomato plants, and push the the ring of paper down into the earth so the little critters couldn’t snip and destroy.

Jim's cutworm prevention recipe

Jim's cutworm prevention recipe

And Jim was as delighted as I was with my eventual tomato triumph.

“He used to laugh and laugh at you.”

“He sure did.”

“I don’t ever look at a tomato plant without thinking of you and Jim.”

We talked about her children and her grandchildren and folks that are no longer around.

And as I turned to go on with my walk, I winked at her.

“You’d give anybody a lift, Mary.”  And that made my day.

Spring in Newburyport’s South End

Spring in Newburyport's South End

Spring in Newburyport's South End

I love walking through Newburyport’s South End. And spring is my favorite time of year in this gorgeous city.

Spring in Newburyport's South End

Spring in Newburyport's South End

I wait every year for this particular tree to bloom in Newburyport’s South End.

Spring in Newburyport's South End

Spring in Newburyport's South End

So many treasures to find walking around this gorgeous city of Newburyport, MA.  I found this jewel on my walking tour this morning in Newburyport’s beautiful and charming South End.

Newburyport, Photos of Bossy Gillis

In my hunt for photos of Newburyport, I found these photos of Bossy Gillis, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, October 1924, they are from glass negatives.  Press images to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis, mayor of Newburyport, in Salem jail, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis, mayor of Newburyport, in Salem jail, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, press image to enlarge.

“Bossy Gillis, mayor of Newburyport, in Salem jail.” Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Bossy Gillis, Mayor of Newburyport, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, press image to enlarge

Bossy Gillis, Mayor of Newburyport, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection, press image to enlarge

“Bossy Gillis, Mayor of Newburyport.”  Bossy Gillis at one of his gas stations.  Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Photos of one of Bossy Gillis’s gas stations that came down in 1968 can be found here.

(If you download an image would you please give The Boston Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

A New Blog in Town

There’s a new blog in town. The NRA Today (Newburyport Redevelopment Authority).

The very first entry says:

The next few months promise to be exciting time for the city. With the arrival of spring comes an opportunity to complete the renewal of the city’s waterfront, creating a space for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

As the process unfolds, we’ll post details here allowing residents to chart our progress. We’ll keep an update list of our meetings and hearings with the hope that you’ll attend and share your thoughts and hopes for the two central pieces to Newburyport’s historic water front.

If you’re unable to attend our meetings please examine the minutes to our past meetings. They’re compiled on City Hall’s web site. You’ll find a link to the minutes and our meeting agendas to the right.”

NRA land c 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, press to enlarge.

NRA land c. 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, press to enlarge.

And in the background of the new NRA blog there is a very cool photograph of downtown Newburyport, NRA land c. 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury (press the image to enlarge).  You can see all the buildings that existed before the demotion that took place in 1968.  If you look real closely you can see where Bossy Gillis’ gas station is still standing (see previous post), next to the firehouse.

(If you download the photograph, would you make sure to give the Historical Society of Old Newbury credit. Thank you.)

More LHD Confusion from the “Say No to LHD” Folks

More LHD confusion from the “Say No to LHD” folks.

I’ve heard from multiple sources that the “Say No to LHD” folks are passing out the  same flyer, handout, that was being passed out in January.

Maybe in January, maybe, one could have said that the “Say No to LHD” folks did not understand city and state law. But there has been plenty of time to learn, and clear up the misinformation and wrong information in the “Say No to LHD” literature.

The literature talks about the proposed LHD Commission, which would oversee Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

The claim is that this commission would be, “appointed by the Mayor and not all have to live in Newburyport.”

This is our Newburyport city law (ordinance).

Sec. 2-62. – Residency requirement.

Persons appointed to City of Newburyport boards, committees, commissions and authorities that are established by ordinance shall be residents of the City of Newburyport. This shall pertain to new appointments made after the date of approval of this section.

Another words, everyone on the proposed commission would live in Newburyport.

And like all Newburyport boards and commissions, the members of the proposed commission would be appointed by the Mayor and be passed by the Newburyport City Council.

Ask yourself, if this one very obvious and basic fact is not true in the “Say No to LHD” literature, how much of that literature could be trusted?

Old Photographs of Newburyport’s Garrison Inn

I found these wonderful old photographs courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, of the Garrison Inn, Brown Square, in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Garrison Inn, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

Garrison Inn, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

Garrison Inn, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

Garrison Inn, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

The photographs were taken by Leon H. Abdalian,  October, 24, 1929, on a glass negative.

(If you download either of these images would you please give the Boston Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

Confusion about Newburyport’s Proposed Local Historic District (LHD)

Confusion abounds when it comes to Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD).

One of the things that folks are confused about is how the LHD could be changed if it should pass.

Local Historic Districts differ from state to state.  Our state LHD state law is called General Law Chapter 40C, the Historic Districts Act.  It informs our local LHD law, ordinance, if it should pass, and is often referred to in the draft ordinance of Newburyport’s proposed LHD.

The LHD ordinance or municipal law is guided by state law just the way our city planning and zoning laws are.

The proposed ordinance could not be changed without a super majority of the Newburyport City Council, 8 out of 11 votes.  That is in State General Law, Chapter 40C, Section 3.

The proposed LHD ordinance includes what is not included or what is exempt, things like paint color, shutters, roofing material, ordinary maintenance and repairs, landscaping, storm windows, storm doors, gutters, shutter hardware, driveways, terraces.

The draft guidelines help clarify and give guidance to a homeowner who would like to make changes to the exterior of their home, seen from the public way, on items that are not exempt.

What was said at the first informational meeting was that most LHDs don’t start with guidelines, that Newburyport was an exception and should be applauded for trying to make things as clear as possible.

At the moment (and the creation of a city law is a process) the guidelines can be changed with a public hearing (Section 6.3). I asked the LHD Study Committee (they can be contacted at lhdsc@cityofnewburyport.com), and what I was told is that there is only one location in Massachusetts where the guidelines are changed by a super majority vote.

If the Newburyport City Council choses (it will reach the City Council after the Public Hearing), it can change Section 6.3 in the LHD draft ordinance, so that any changes to the guidelines would also require a super majority vote in the Newburyport City Council, 8 out of 11 votes.

The LHD state law, Chapter 40C can be read here.

Newburyport, The Waterfront back in 1972

In my hunt at the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library I found these two photographs of what Newburyport’s waterfront, and Newburyport looked like in 1972 and in 1973.

NRA lots in 1972, press photo to enlarge.

NRA lots in 1972, press photo to enlarge.

Quite a mess.  And in the photo you can see the gap between the brick building and what is now the Fire House Center for the Arts, where Bossy Gillis’ gas station was demolished (see previous post).

NRA lots 1972, press photo to enlarge.

NRA lots 1972, press photo to enlarge.

Photographs courtesy of the Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library.

All of the Urban Renewal photographs that I took courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library can be seen here.

(If you download an image would you please give The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

Photos of Newburyport Urban Renewal and Bossy Gillis’ Gas Station

I thought I would put up some of the photos that I took at the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library. These are photos of Bossy Gillis’ gas station down at Market Square, and its demolition, along with some of the text and the dates – October 1968 and December 1968.

Bossy Gillis's garage, Market Square, Urban Renewal, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis' gas station, Market Square, Urban Renewal, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis's Garage, Urban Renewal, Newburyport, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis' gas station, Urban Renewal, Newburyport, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis's garage demolition, Newburyport, press image to enlarge.

Bossy Gillis' gas station demolition, Newburyport, press image to enlarge.

All photographs courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library. Press images to enlarge.

All of the Urban Renewal photographs that I took courtesy of the Archives at the Newburyport Public Library can be seen here.

(If you download an image would you please give The Archival Center at The Newburyport Public Library and The Newburyport Blog credit.  Thank you.)

Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD) Meeting, March 26, 2012

LHD Study Committee Meeting, March 26, 2012, press to start video.

LHD Study Committee Meeting, March 26, 2012, press to start video.

Here is the video of the Local Historic District (LHD) Study Committee public meeting held on March, 26, 2012 at Newburyport City Hall.  The meeting was full of very helpful and constructive information, and the video is well worth watching.

Photo of Wolfe Tavern, Newburyport, MA

Wolfe Tavern, Photo of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge

Wolfe Tavern, photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department, press to enlarge.

A wonderful photo of Wolfe Tavern, located where the parking lot now is at the corner of State and Harris Streets, downtown Newburyport.

The photo is courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Print Department.  It was created on on October 24, 1929, by Leon H. Abdalian (1884-1967) It was on a glass negative that was 6.5 x 8.5 inches.

See previous post of Wolf Tavern here.

(If you download the image would you please give credit to the Boston Public Library and The Newburyport Blog. Thank you.)

The Local Historic District (LHD), Newburyport and Fines

moneyWhat the “Say No to LHD” folks are saying about fines in the literature that is being mailed and handed out, is not true. If you do something in Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD) that the LHD Commission (should the Newburyport City Council vote in favor of the LHD) might have some reservations about, you will not be fined $500 a day into bankruptcy.

This is what our Newburyport City Ordinance says about fines:

Section X-G

“If the notice of violation and order is not complied with promptly, the inspector of buildings shall institute the appropriate action or proceeding at law or in equity to prevent any unlawful action, use or condition and to restrain, correct or abate such violation. Penalties for violations may, upon conviction, be affixed in an amount not to exceed three hundred dollars ($300.00) for each offense. Each day, or portion of a day, that any violation is allowed to continue shall constitute a separate offense.”

That sounds pretty fierce and downright scary.

What the chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) said at the informational meeting for Newburyport’s proposed Local Historic District (LHD), and I am paraphrasing here, is that the Planning Board, the Building Inspector and the ZBA all have the ability to use fines but they do NOT and never have levied fines.

What was explained was that fines are there 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.

What was explained that evening is that the same criterion would apply to the Newburyport’s proposed LHD.