Yesterday’s editorial by Jim McCarthy was truly impressive. He nailed the whole issue of what is before us. We need a unifying vision from which the City will base its actions and by which New England Development will confidently react to.
As I have been using my humble version of a soapbox now for a couple of years, the vision must be based on historic preservation. This, of course, runs counterpoint to a small faction that crazily thinks any such approach will be ‘bad for business”. They feel based on the knee-jerk reaction from the poverty of the sixties and seventies; we must do everything we can to “make a lot of money”. This is based on the concept that flailing around furiously will actually produce an economic renaissance. And I get criticized for calling this group, the Dark Side! Like machine guns, all that will be produced is a lot of hurt and destruction.
As Kevin Lawless, a local lawyer stated so brilliantly in 2007,
If we fail to act in the spirit of Garrison, Parker and others on the issue of historic preservation, the brilliant legacy of our past may fade like the ephemeral twilight of a winter’s day.
For the first time since the glory days of 1750 to 1807; Newburyport is now, even as the land around us dries up, remains a shining opportunity. If we approach further development with desperately wide arms or with fear, then the city will lose not just economically but will lose its very character.
As Jerry Lischke noted in January,
“Newburyport has always weathered the downturns in the real estate market better than other communities, and I’ve been through 40 years of real estate cycles, that’s because Newburyport has a unique appeal.”
In contrast, there is another sector of our population that looks with envy at Georgetown and would love our City to be just another rather rundown Boston-bedroom community lost in the mass of suburban humanity.
But it is exactly our uniqueness and our leadership role in the region that has brought Steve Karp to us. He knows Nantucket. He has worked with a community that has a local historic district and is surrounded by nature’s beauty.
In fact, he is counting on a community that protects itself from over-development.
Its preservation protects his development!
One of the greatest mistakes that Walt Disney committed and he regretted deeply was not protecting the surrounding land when he opened Disneyland in Anaheim. His internationally acclaimed theme park was soon surrounded by shabby tourist traps and over commercialization and a rundown seedy town grew up and began to hurt the very idea of family-oriented entertainment. He was determined at Disneyworld in Florida to create conservation lands and zoned areas to protect the very core of his endeavor.
If Newburyport abandons the vision of historic preservation, greedy profiteers will surround and infest our beautiful city until we are beautiful no more.
This will hurt New England Development’s investment just as it hurts the rest of us.
Remember, the guests in that fancy new hotel and conference center will be drawn to Newburyport because they expect to see an historic seaport surrounded by our ecological wonders – not tacky tourist traps and faux history and our neighborhoods and open spaces packed with cookie-cutter housing.
“I am convinced that the only way to stay oriented is to make decisions guided by a vision. When our predecessors came up against an obstacle posed to them, the vision was their guide. In some cases, when they were up against the law, they changed the law.
Their work was a display of greatness. I see the opportunity in front of us again.”
– Jim McCarthy, “What’s the vision for development?”
Newburyport Daily News, March 24, 2011