, Salem, MA

October 15, 2012

Letter: CPA offers Beverly a chance to preserve its character

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

The Community Preservation Act is Question 4 on the ballot this November, giving Beverly citizens the opportunity to protect our city’s unique historic character through a dedicated, local fund. In addition to open space and community housing, the CPA funds historic preservation. So why does historic preservation matter?

Preserving the history that we see every day in our neighborhoods, our downtown, our parks and our waterfront is preserving our own quality of life. Can any of us imagine Beverly without our historic City Hall (originally home to the Cabots), or Lynch Park and its grand Carriage House? The CPA could help rehabilitate both to improve energy efficiency and preserve significant features to ensure their long-term preservation. The Carriage House could be fully rehabilitated and brought into productive, income-generating use for the city.

The CPA can also preserve cultural materials that tell us who we are and where we came from. Tablets and monuments that mark sites of local history or commemorate the sacrifice of the city’s soldiers are eligible for CPA funding, as are the vital records and archival materials that document the city’s past. The CPA can fund preservation of historic cemeteries, which serve as places of reflection, as well as parks, genealogical records, and collections of sculpture and art. Efforts to preserve these icons of our history compete for limited city resources and are almost never funded.

Historic preservation has also been proven to be a powerful economic engine and a tool for sustainable growth. Investment in the preservation of historic properties creates jobs in construction, service and retail sectors and promotes heritage tourism. The commonwealth’s cities and towns capitalize on their historic character to attract new residents and visitors alike. Newburyport and Rockport (two of our neighbors that have adopted the CPA) would not be the same if the historic buildings, boulevards and landscapes had been plowed under for new construction. Taking a sustainable approach and reusing historic properties has drawn new life to the commercial centers of our neighboring cities and towns.

Our city is rich with architecture and special places that connect us to our shared heritage. The connection to each other and the sheer beauty of our surroundings enrich our lives each day.

Please vote yes on Question 4 to adopt the Community Preservation Act and preserve the historic city that we are lucky to call home.

Wendy Pearl