I keep thinking about an earlier post on the “positive aspects of infill.”
It is my own impression that in the 1980’s and early to mid 1990’s we did experience positive infill. Houses in Newburyport’s Historic District were repaired and restored, reasonably sized additions were built; one could argue that the infill on a street like Lime Street, whether or not one agrees with the architectural style, actually helped lower crime in that area. In fact “infill” and restoration helped cut down on crime in Newburyport, something that “positive infill” is supposed to do.
We are not alone in the fact that we are at the edge, if not over the edge of over development. Gentrification and displacement of lower and middle class families, along with the loss of neighborhood character are happening in other places the United States along with Newburyport, MA.
There is now a new buzz word for what we are experiencing –“vertical sprawl.” From what I gather not everyone in the planning community likes the term “vertical sprawl,” but it appears to be catching on. People are sighting places like Brooklyn, NY…slightly larger than Newburyport, MA.
And people are wrestling with this issue and what to do about it.
I think in our community we could say, “wait a minute, there is a problem, let’s slow down and think about what is happening to Newburyport, MA.” That is my hope for Save Our Town—that we could raise public awareness and change the climate of demolition and replication to one of the protection of our historic heritage, which would include, historic structures, historic landscapes and local neighborhood character.
I’ve talked to many folks who think that it’s too late—too much of Newburyport has been destroyed. It is my own opinion that there is still plenty left, and that if we speak up, we can make a difference. But we need to speak up now.
So take a free bumper sticker and put it on your car. Take a flier and pass it on to your neighbors and friends. Sign the petition and let other people know about it. If we each do one small thing, I think that together we can make a really big difference.
Save Our Town—Newburyport, MA bumper sticker