Like zombies in the video Thriller, our City is plagued by none other than dark siders. Unfortunately, they roam our community year-round and not just at Halloween.
For those who are not regular visitors to this site, a dark sider is a person who believes that Newburyport’s future lies in industry and not in eco- and heritage tourism. A dark sider reminisces of a community with busy factories providing steady income to the workers in town. They imagine that after a hard day at work, the family could stroll the streets and live in a safe community where everyone knows everyone else. They picture a cty with few outsiders. The dark sider sees no value in aesthetics – a manicured lawn is no value to them – a job is everything and the appearance of your house means nothing. They do not understand equity and care nothing of raising property values – to them it’s only an excuse to raise taxes. In an odd contrast, they hold that we must build, build, build. Open space is wasted space. To them, the act of construction and industry is the ticket for the future of Newburyport as the dark sider is forever seeking what was lost in the mid-twentieth century: seeking the old Newburyport of the past filled with large factories. Yes, it was ugly and polluted and the waterfront was where construction debris was dumped but people had jobs and close families.
They do not value the old buildings and would love to sweep them away for new – a dark sider feels a deep shame that was generated by years of having an inability to replace old houses with the latest “modern” building of the moment. To live in an old house means you are poor and socially inadequate. New means you can afford the best materials and the latest fashion. This explains why dark siders see no value in local historic districts or understand the value of preserving past architecture.
Fortunately for all of us, they are few in number compared to the past. Regardless, these spectral terrors keep returning to make our lives and our city miserable.
If you venture out at night, you can still hear their moans, “There is nothing special about Newburyport”, “Why can’t we have a pretty parking lot on the waterfront?” “Why won’t they put buildings there?” “We should have concrete sidewalks downtown!” Let’s install the cheapest material on our houses”, “I love vinyl siding, it’s so ‘maintenance free’”. “Let’s put up plastic A-frames. It’ll attract customers!”
Sometimes, their cries turn to shrieks, “No one has the right to tell me what to do with my building!” “I have a right to put down blacktop.” “No one has the right to stop me from remodeling my house, including abutters!” “Get rid of those bike lanes on High Street! I want my parking space and cars are king!”
Unfortunately, these tormenters seek only to destroy us. Instead of seeking human flesh and eating brains, they desire to devour our spirit and leave emptiness behind. I have walked the dreary streets of Haverhill, Lawrence & Lynn and seen into the depressed eyes of the locals. I shudder to think there are zombies among us who want to destroy our quality of life.
If only they would be a distant memory as other ghouls are on November 1st!