When faced with many different conflicts and issues concerning historic preservation, it is very important to take a stand where it counts. Each of us has a finite amount of time and resources. If we go scurrying about dousing every brush fire, when the major conflagration strikes, you’ll find yourself exhausted and out of water!
Sometimes I will scan the agendas on some of the committees and commissions just to find out where my energy will count the most. I good example is the Zoning Board of Appeals for March 9th. First thing I do is check if the building or property is inside the Newburyport HIstoric District. If it’s outside, I drop it off my list. There has been a lot of activity on Plum Island but I refuse to put a lot of energy into shacks that looked like they were going to fall down when they were first built! And the architectural integrity of the neighborhood? I’d put photos up for example but I don’t want to offend anyone while making a point. Homes outside of the historic district? I refuse to take any time out to protect places in "Plastic City". What about 84-86 State Street? He’s won sorta – anything more is just gravy for the developer – the real threat is 33 Market Street. An entire streetscape will be harmed and a precious, architectural piece of history will be lost FOREVER. Guess where my energy will be focused?
And please, let’s use common sense. Panera Bread is coming to Storey Avenue. Some in City Hall are nervous that opponents to chain stores will object to this restaurant coming to Newburyport. Even chain store antagonists understand zoning. Let me put it in caps so someone can see it clearly:
IF A HUNDRED CHAIN STORES LINE UP WAITING TO GET INTO THE MARKET BASKET SHOPPING CENTER OR PORT PLAZA OR EVEN THE ROUTE ONE TRAFFIC CIRCLE, I WILL BE OUT THERE SHOUTING AND CHEERING FOR THEM.
That is where they belong and it’s good for Newburyport.
The Newburyport Historic District is a unique funky experience that can not be duplicated by homogenous chain stores. Whether it’s our architecture or our businesses, the District is just a pleasure to be in. Sure, I would like more stores that actually provide real necessities and day-to-day things but that is why we have Storey Avenue and the Route One Circle.