Byron Matthews as Mayor of Newburyport

More than a few people have taken an exception to my description of Byron Matthews as being “by all accounts was an excellent mayor” (see earlier post.) Tom Ryan in the March 24, 2006 edition of the Undertoad, elaborates on my apparent misconception.

To quote from the Undertoad:

“He (Byron Matthews) was in charge when the restoration (of downtown Newburyport) took place. However, it was Mayor George Lawler who secured finding from HUD on his way out the door. He did this because of the work done by the heroic citizens involved in the Newburyport Historical Society. Had Matthew’s had his way the downtown we know today would not have existed, it would have been a strip mall and a parking lot.”

I stand corrected.

Mr. Ryan also goes on to report that if former mayor Byron Matthews “had has his way there would have been a major docking station three miles off the coast of Plum Island and oil tankers would have pulled up and unloaded the oil that would run through huge pipes over Plum Island, through Newburyport and end up in a tank farm that was to have 18-24 huge oil tanks (40-50 feet high) on the corner of Low and Hale where Port Rehab and the neighborhood that sits behind it is now.”

I stand corrected again.

And to quote from Mr. Ryan in the Undertoad one more time, in the Newburyport Daily News, October 30, 1995, Alan Davitt wrote:

“Later in one of his administrations he (Matthews) advocated a waste treatment facility exactly as the one now operation along route 495 in North Andover. If Newburyport had been selected, the project was to be located in the Quail Run area.”

I stand corrected one more time.

I thank the Undertoad for these corrections and clarifications. I now know much more now about the 10 year administration of former mayor Byron Matthews than I did before. And it becomes even more apparent that Byron Matthews might not be the best appointment to replace Mary Lou Supple for the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority.

And it also becomes apparent that what Bill Plant refers to as the “good old boys” may not in fact have always been either prudent or wise.

I stand corrected a fourth time.

Mary Eaton, Newburyport