When election time comes, there is always a powerful campaign promise that helps propel certain candidates to the forefront. In the old days, before supermarkets and our fantastic (but taken for granted) national transportation system; it was the promise of putting basic food on the table.
Much needed but a very complicated thing to put into reality. No single politician could actually do it all.
Later, in the twentieth century, it was promises of putting a car in every driveway or providing a house to fulfill the American dream.
Again, much desired but a very complicated thing to put into reality. No single politician could be pointed to and say, “We have all this because of what he did.”
Locally, of course, in most communities; using the promise of more money for schools was a shoe-in. Parents would literally line up to vote for those in support of new schools, more electives and more of everything that related to education.
But in a unique community like Newburyport, it is different.
There aren’t enough parents to line up for that vote. With our changing demographics, the recent move to ‘buy’ the seniors’ vote with promises of a center; doesn’t mean we’ll have seniors lined up either.
So what is our “Chicken In Every Pot”? SIDEWALKS.
Newburyport is a very public disgrace before the eyes of the Commonwealth when it comes to our city sidewalks. It doesn’t matter what the medium is, they are in terrible condition. Our depleted DPS has been promised a systematic re-paving plan for years if not decades but just like our schools, delayed maintenance now has our pathways in utter dangerous ruin.
But just like these broad promises of the past, to fix the problem is going to take a complicated and very politically involved solution. Patching here and there will not do it. All the while Portsmouth, our neighbor to the north makes fun of us with their aggressive and now, money-making venture to fix the problem. They have put brick sidewalks in their historic districts and cement walks outside of it and their increase in real estate and tourist dollars is now well-documented.
Which is why I have mixed feelings about politicians jumping on this bandwagon. Let’s say that someone as highly competent as Councilor Cameron is successful in getting new and restored sidewalks into our City. I can just see our City ruining our ATTRACTIVE and highly lucrative downtown and neighborhoods by replacing the historic brick sidewalks with cold, white cement walkways. Sure they will be ADA-compliant but a real killer when it comes to drawing in visitors from around the world.
THE RIGHT THING TO DO IS PUT BRICK INSIDE OUR NATIONAL REGISTER HISTORIC DISTRICT AND CEMENT IN THE BALANCE OF OUR CITY. IT WILL BE AND HAS BEEN A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS.
Will the politicians do the right thing? I hope so as they pursue the Commonwealth and Federal monies to fix our disgrace.