Newburyport, Protecting Our Historic Assets

It warmed the cockles of my little heart to read Stephen Tait’s most excellent article in the Newburyport Daily News, February 26, 2007 on protecting Newburyport’s historic assets. (The article can be read in its entirety [with permission] on the website of Save Our Town.)

To quote from the Newburyport Daily News article, February 26, 2007:

“Newburyport is one of the most historical- and architectural-rich areas in the country,” said Linda Smiley, chairwoman of the Historical Commission. “To fail to recognize that value by not protecting it is not very prudent. It is really what makes us. It drives our economy….”

“It is really a discussion about how to protect the city’s historic assets, which really provides the city with its economic backbone,” she (Smiley) said…”

“Given the historical significance of Newburyport, which is regarded as one of the top places in the country for historical homes, especially Federalist style, it comes as a surprise to some that there are no safeguards already in place, Smiley said…”

“Nancy Colbert, the city’s planning director and expert in historical preservation, said such districts are used to protect the assets of cities such as Newburyport.

“Local historic districts are one of the strongest tools available to a municipality in regard to protection,” she said….”

“Colbert said there have been other attempts to create a district, but they were opposed by those who do not want such regulations on their homes. She said this time around will be an opportunity to educate people on the benefits, adding that it will be essential to make the district appropriate and user-friendly…”

“Doug Locy, chairman of the Planning Board, did say the commission would not likely be for extensive rules…”

“Smiley, Colbert and Locy said a recent emergence of grass-roots groups in the city that are calling for more historic protections and the historic district forming for Fruit Street helped spawn momentum for the larger, citywide project…” (Newburyport Daily News, February 26, 2007, by Steven Tait)

I’m loving this. I can’t tell you how much I’m loving this.

The proposal, starting off very slowly with a “study group,” has been sent “to committee.” At this point I do not know how the Newburyport City Council would respond long-term, but, for goodness sakes, what an opportunity.

And to read that a discussion about protecting our historic assets taking place on the Newburyport City Council floor, well, that just makes me smile from ear to ear.

That the Newburyport Historic Commission, Newburyport’s Planning Director and the chair of the Newburyport Planning Board all would like “user-friendly” protection. Very smart. Very smart indeed.

May the Newburyport City Council take advantage of this opportunity and engage in protecting our historic assets, the base of our economic vitality, ensuring a vibrant economic future, to leave as a legacy for Newburyport, MA.

Mary Eaton