SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 4, 2013

Our view: Cheers, jeers for local lawmakers

CHEERS to the local volunteers stepping up to help Salem deal with the massive influx of tourists to the city under difficult conditions.

The Salem Maritime National Historic Site closed at midnight Monday, a victim of the federal government shutdown, its 32 employees on indefinite furlough.

The timing couldn’t be worse. The site’s Regional Visitor Center is the stepping-off point for so many of the more than 250,000 visitors to the city during Halloween season. This week, they’ve been greeted with a sign on a locked door that read “Because of the federal government shutdown, this National Park Service facility is closed.”

Fortunately, volunteers like Stacia Cooper of Destination Salem and Jennifer Close of the Peabody Essex Museum, who were on the scene Tuesday, stepped in to help, offering information and directions to tourists under a hastily erected awning off Essex Street. The city has also set up a row of portable toilets on the site, filling a key Halloween-season need.

“We spend all year recommending people set their GPS for 2 New Liberty St. in Salem, park in the garage and begin their visit at the NPS visitor center,” Destination Salem Executive Director Kate Fox said in a release. “It isn’t fair to them for their welcome to be a piece of paper saying the National Park is closed.”

We agree. So it’s refreshing to see this private-public volunteer partnership step in to fill the void left by an increasingly infantile Congress.

JEERS to the vandals — or thieves — who pulled the sunflowers from a Danvers traffic island last month.

Former town resident John Locke planted them there as part of a memorial to his son, also named John.

The younger John Locke died of brain cancer last summer at 33. The St. John’s Prep and Stonehill College graduate had worked for the FBI.

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