Horses can easily be distracted. It takes a strong, skillful rider to hold them steady. When you couple this equine trait with a full wagon hitch or a group of horses, you can see why putting blinders on them can make the objective (like moving forward) more easily obtained.
Being focused for a cause can often mean strapping on figurative ‘blinders’ as you shoot for an objective. Unfortunately, it also blinds you to what is going on around you. Recently, Bill Plante, the retired editor of the Daily News, has stated that a local historic district is a “solution looking for a problem”. He says there is no danger of Newburyport losing its historic homes to demolition and renovation and that most homeowners understand the commitment of owning such precious assets.
“There is no evidence that I am aware of that justifies fear of desecration of historic properties by way either of neglect or adventure.”
Those blinders have been strapped on pretty tightly! He obviously can’t see the empty lot on Marlboro Street like some great force that scrapped away an historic home by an uncaring developer while members of the ZBA stood up and applauded such action. Nor can he loosen the straps enough to read the report by Mass Historic that over 750 homes have been either demolished or so renovated as to lose their historic standing. Or the fact that large numbers of new homeowners haven’t a clue of the value of their historic homes and are destroying priceless historic windows, gutting the interiors to the studs and radically desecrating the architecture for their ‘comfort and convenience’.
But again, and I say this with confidence since I have seen it with my own eyes, I can echo the editorials down in the Newburyport Library Archives; the statements made by him.
“If you don’t tear them down, they will fall down.”
– Bill Plante
You won’t see him smiling in front of the NRA/HUD renovations that I have collected at the bottom of this website. The reason he is absent is because he bet on the wrong horse. He felt the Newburyport Area Industrial Development was the means to save Newburyport from the financial brink of disaster. In his defense, the money from small, light industrial businesses can be pure ‘profit’ while housing comes with it the baggage of fire, infrastructure, police, schools, etc. N.A.I.D. used their own money to build the lots and roads for the Lord Timothy Dexter complex with no burden to the taxpayer.
His goals did not allow him to see how a worn mill town could become an economic powerhouse via historic preservation. You can see it in the eyes of his associates who have sought building solutions that are not compatible with the Newburyport Historic District. Worse, they support total disregard for the historic aspect of our City.
Hence we have blah concrete poured in our historic downtown. There is no political will to stop the slathering of blacktop in front of historic buildings. There is no desire to preserve streetscapes or enhance our ‘views’. This group bet on industrial development and for the rules of urban and suburban locations rather than for the codes needed for an historic City.
Granted, they didn’t know that China and the Global Market would decimate the industrial sector, but they should have known better than to trample underfoot with scorn any desire to enhance the architectural and historic beauty of Newburyport!
It’s time to take the blinders off!