ESSEX HAPPENINGS…NOVEMBER 15, 2011
Peabody Essex Museum Expansion
In a recent announcement, covered both in the regional and local press, Peabody-Essex Museum Director and CEO, Dan Munroe indicated that the famous Salem museum was about to embark on a major capital fund drive to raise an amount over one half million dollars. Some of those proceeds will be used to construct a major addition to the museum. The other use for the funds raised will be to substantially increase the endowment of the museum. The endowment, when upgraded after this capital campaign, will put the museum in a special place relative to other art museums of comparable size. The new addition that will be larger than the 2003 expansion will include more gallery space and a rooftop garden and restaurant.
The expectation is that the museum expansion when complete will be “up rather than out”. When the new plans are complete in 2016, with the new gallery space added the PEM will then be one of the top ten art museums in this country based on exhibition space.
This is wonderful news for the host city and the entire region as the museum in its expanded configuration will certainly attract many new visitors to the region and will greatly enhance the reputation of the region for hundreds of thousands on visitors from around the world. In addition to the museum’s investment, it is expected that the planned improvements, as they were in the past, will be a stimulus for even more investments of capital in this entire region.
In addition to the new construction planned, some portions of the museum will be gutted and replaced making the entire facility even more modern and customer friendly. Even though the planned renovations, the famous East India Hall will remain untouched and future plans call for an even higher visibility role for that part of the museum in the future.
St. John’s Prep Headmasters Council Reception
It seems most appropriate that right after recognizing the announcement of the Peabody Essex Museum, that we would be once again be able to return to the city of my birth for an event held to acknowledge those contributors who assist in the work of the Prep.
The event was held at the museum and the evening in that setting was most successful. The Halloween visitors have all gone home, but it was a warm almost late summer like night and the city was still decorated for the holiday and it was a pleasure to be at this world class venue and to once again realize how fortunate we are in this region to have such a facility as the museum and their famous East India Hall.
The recently named Headmaster, Dr. Edward Hardiman spoke about recent successes of the school and outlined plans going forward. A young man who has attended the school on a scholarship also spoke of his experiences at the Danvers Catholic all boys school.
The long awaited Congressional redistricting plan has been released recently to the public by the Massachusetts Joint Redistricting Committeeand the findings seem quite fair.
The plan makes some remarkable recommendations including the possibility of two incumbent Congressmen running against one another. I suspect that the plan is not yet final. It still will require approval by both houses of the Massachusetts Legislature and by the Governor before final approval is complete and may be subject to additional changes. There may even be an opportunity for addition public input. From purely an Essex Heritage perspective it appears as if the Sixth Congressional District that is made up of most of the communities that are included in the Essex Heritage Area will remain basically intact with a couple of minor additions. The communities of Billerica and Tewksbury that are not part of Essex Heritage and a portion of the Town of Andover that is in the ENHA have been added to the district. the rest of the Essex Heritage geography has stayed without adjustment in the district now represented by Congresswoman Tsongas. Essex Heritage took part in public hearings earlier to make their feelings known that keeping the district that mirrors the Essex National Heritage Area intact would be positive for the thirty-four communities that makes up the ENHA. We are pleased that recommendations provided mirrors our views.
There will certainly be a number of political decisions made in the next several months that will impact the elective process that will be undertaken in 2012, but we will let that process take place without any influence by this organization.
Local Municipal Election Results
I will not attempt to recap local election results as the local newspapers did a great job of completing that task, but we offer our congratulation to all of the winners and thank everyone who offered their time for potential public service.
We congratulate Mayor Bill Scanlon on his close win in Beverly and we look forward to continuing to work with him in the future. Mayor Scanlon has always been a wonderful supporter of the mission of Essex Heritage and we expect to continue to try to earn his continuing support. In the region’s largest community, the voters elected a new Mayor.
We have never met Mayor Bettencourt, but we look forward to meeting with him and providing a briefing on the work of Essex Heritage, and how the City of Peabody can benefit from the continuing relationship established with Essex Heritage under the last two energetic chief executives that have led the City of Peabody.
Farmers Market to Operate Indoors in Haverhill
The City of Haverhill is about to launch an indoor Farmers Market scheduled for the late fall and winter season.
The market will be offered at the Universalist Unitarian Church at 15 Kenoza Ave in Haverhill and will operate every Saturday from 9:00 am until noon starting on November 19, 2011and will continue through March 3, 2012. The market will feature seasonal vegetables and will also include the wares of 15 vendors who will sell arts and crafts and other seasonal gifts. This will be a great opportunity to shop for fresh produce and will also offer the chance to shop for holiday gifts. In addition live music will be provided each Saturday and the church will offer refreshments for sale each day the market operates. It is expected that holding the market indoors during this usual time of harsh weather will be a most positive initiative and will encourage participation by area residents and visitors. For more information or to receive more complete description of the market activities visit www.haverhillmarket.org.
Appleton Farm to Open Retail Farm Stand
Appleton Farms of Ipswich, the oldest continuously operating farm in the nation located on Route 1A in Ipswich is about to offer a new service to the region. The farm is in the process of building a retail farm stand that will open later this month, that will sell bottled milk, butter and cheese made from the milk produced by the herd of grass-fed Jersey Cows maintained on the property. The retail stand will be opened in the barn nearest to the main farm entrance on Route 1A. This new enterprise will be open to sell these fine dairy based products Monday through Friday from 2 until 6. Appleton Farm is operated under the care of the Trustees of Reservations.
Tax Classification Vote scheduled in Danvers
As they have done for the last several years, the Danvers Board of Selectmen will hold a hearing on November 15, 2011, as required by State law, to determine if the Town should set separate tax rates for business and residential properties, and if so, how much of the tax burden should be shifted from residents to business interests. Based on that decision, the Board of Assessors will then set tax rates for the year that begins on July 1st.
That rate will then need to be approved by the State Department of Revenue. The Town of Danvers has maintained a split rate for commercial and residential properties for several years. Under the decision made in 2011, businesses paid 25% more than if there had been a single rate. The hearing this year will be held in the Selectman’s room at Town Hall at 7:00 pm on 11/15/11 and if past experience is a judge there will be a large crowd that will attend the hearing and there will strong opinions voiced on both sides of this issue.
Newburyport Plans to Purchase Solar Power
The City of Newburyport has opted to sign a twenty year contract with a solar energy company based in Salisbury and as part of the process the City will receive a ten percent discount on energy purchased for municipal uses from True North LLC of Salisbury. True North will build a facility in relationship with National Grid and then make the power produced to local communities. The site will contain twenty thousand solar panels on the solar farm to be constructed in Salisbury.
Congratulations To Two Local Partner Banks
Essex Heritage is pleased to note that two local banks, that are proud members of our corporate partners program, were identified in a recent Boston Globe survey of great places to work in this region. In the small size businesses, the Institution for Savings in the Town of Newburyport was named number one and in the medium sized companies, Eastern Bank was named one of the outstanding places to work in Eastern Massachusetts. Also appropriate in this space to remind all of you that Essex Heritage is currently in a membership drive for both corporate and personal memberships.
One last Veterans Day Note
One day after Veterans Day my wife and I visited the National Cemetery in Bourne today, and with flags flying on every veterans grave, it was inspiring, sobering and sad all at the same time. This was my first visit ever and the grounds and the conditions were wonderfully maintained. It was all most respectful.