Newburyport, Local Historic District is a Process

Creating a Local Historic District (LHD) for Newburyport (the ultimate protection of our historic assets, the economic engine for our city) is a process.

The map of the proposed LHD has changed! It now consists of downtown Newburyport, extended on one side to Rt 1 and on the other side to Federal Street, and historic High Street. (It’s a whole lot smaller than it originally started out being—part of the process.)

If we get Newburyport City Councilors elected who are in favor of the process of creating a LHD there will be a long process.

What the LHD Study Committee (LHDSC) has proposed is a list of “guidelines.” “Guidelines,” not “set in stone this is what you have to have-lines.”

Then there is a huge public process, public hearings, where everyone gets to say their piece. (My hope, and part of it I think, could already be a hollow hope, is that we could actually have a constructive public dialogue, instead of two sides digging in their heals and screaming over each other. What I saw at the one public information hearing that I went to, was very vocal anti-LHD doing a whole lot of loud talking, and not a lot of constructive listening. It’s much easier to come up with negative suggestions, “NO,” than constructive solutions – and constructive solutions are a major component of any sort of activism.)

And then it goes to the Newburyport City Council, where it goes into “committee,” and everything gets hashed out by our public officials. (That’s why it is very necessary that on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 you go out and vote!).

Will the LHD as it is proposed now look the same? My pretty good guess is “no,” it will look different. And that’s because we have a democracy. A wonderful, messy, process-oriented democracy.

So those of you out there who are really scared by the whole idea of a LHD, this is only the beginning. And those of you who are determined that the proposed LHD as it stands is going to happen, relax, it’s going to change.

So again, I’m going to say this until election day, vote on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.

The At Large candidates running for Newburyport City Council who are on record for supporting the process of a Local Historic District, i.e. the economic future of Newburyport are:

Ed Cameron

Barry Connell

Mike Early

Ari Herzog

Steve Hutcheson

Katy O’Connor Ives