August 19, 2008

A recent bout of comments on Tom Salemi’s Newburyport Posts has left me a bit disheartened at the state of our city. Believe it or not, and I would wager most of you won’t (but that’s ok), I do try to avoid the whole local vs. newbie argument, however, in some cases it just seems unavoidable.

This may be one of those cases, no matter how hard it is for me to believe. The issue at the crux of the discussion was the new Clipper City Rail Trail, and was quickly diverted (probably by myself) down a path towards the state of our beloved World War Memorial Stadium.

I thought for sure this would be one issue that old and new could agree on, that it was high time for the renovation to repair the aging and condemned structure. But surprisingly, it seems there is some opposition to it. I understand that those who have moved here recently probably haven’t been to the stadium, and certainly never played in it, but most have children that someday, will most likely be in the high school, and be playing on that field, in that stadium. And to think that these same parents don’t care about the state of that stadium little shocking, because in this case, I gave the newbies the benefit of the doubt.

To be honest, I didn’t expect them to know there was a memorial there to a local citizen killed in World War II, because I don’t expect most newcomers to know any real history of the town. This is one of the many pet peeves we natives have, but I don’t find it unreasonable, they are new. If I moved to a new town, i certainly wouldn’t know the rich history of it right away either, and I think we all understand that. But I guess the problem we natives see, rightly or wrongly, is that there seems to be a lack of respect for that history. Whether tearing down a historical building, building a development virtually on top of the grave of one of the most prominent men in the cities history, or letting the stadium decay beyond hope of repair or renovation, it seems that the people that move here nowadays just don’t care that there is a history that they don’t understand. Its seems to be out with the old, in with the new, and that is what bothers most natives. People are more concerned about building a bike path than giving our students a proper facility to play sports, and honoring the memories of the veterans who died in World War One, to which the stadium was named a memorial. It seems we have become a city that is less concerned with its history and civic pride, and more concerned about what new restaurant or shoe store is coming to town. I’m biting my tongue not to drop the “Y” word is this post, but it rhymes with puppies.

As for the stadium, I implore all of those that read this to donate whatever they can spare to the RESTORE project. It is a part of the fabric of our city and for those looking to make Newburyport their home, they should, at the very least, respect the history and traditions of the city they chose to live in.



  1. Hi X,

    I’m flattered to be mentioned so prominently in the post. However, you completely distorted the comments.

    I don’t see anyone taking a stance against the stadium except one person who professes to be a native. And he/she simply question whether CPA money was properly spent.

    I raised a similar question about the legality since the city of Newton lost a court case over doing the same. But I later withdraw my comment. Sounds like a good use.

    I took issues with two of your points. First, you incorrectly maintained the stadium would be restored with mostly private money. I was happy to be the one to inform you about the $500,000 in state money that might be coming. That’s one-third of the price tag. Toss in the $250,000 in CPA money and that’s half the $1.5m total.

    Second, you maintained the project was restoring a war memorial, not a stadium. Even the Restore web site says Save Our Stadium.

    By my count, only one anonymous poster took issue with the project.

    I wish we didn’t have travel down the newbie vs. native path, but yet here we are again.

    Take heart X, we’re not the enemy you’d like us to be.

  2. Tom, i wasn’t referring to you in this post, just the over all ambivalence to the plight of the stadium.

    And I never claimed it wasn’t a stadium, simply that it honors the veterans of Newburyport, but that is neither here nor there.

    As for the money, I was going by the website, where they make no mention of the state money, but again i don’t understand how people have a problem with 750K coming from taxes, and yet support 3.2 million for a bike path.

  3. I don’t think anyone question the use of tax money. It’s the type of tax money.

    One could argue stadium maintenance should have been a line item in the city’s budget all these years. It shouldn’t have come to this. I know, tough choices had to be made, but that is the general crux of the concern.

    There are questions as to whether CPA funds can go to athletic fields per a lawsuit in Newton. But the CPA web site offers recreation as a viable use, so it sounds reasonable to me.

    To your point about people caring more about bike paths and shoe stores than the football stadium, well that’s human nature.

    I could just as easily argue why are we getting so worked up over a football stadium when the Pettingill House can’t keep food on its shelves.

    But that’s a discussion for another day.

  4. I’m back.

    X, I’ve been thinking about your initial post. I concede newcomers would be well served by learning local history. I’m certainly trying to do so.

    However, respect is a two way street.

    New folks moving into this town aren’t blank slates. We’re not fresh from the womb. We’ve experienced life in other communities, the good and the bad, and we have some idea how we’d like our chosen community to look.

    It isn’t reasonable to expect new arrivals to fall lockstop into your vision of Newburyport. Moreover, it isn’t natural.

    Anyone who has studied the community knows it has evolved through the years as each immigrant class moved into the community. (Again, check out Jean Doyle’s book.) That is the nature of life and how communities thrive.

    It’s unreasonable and unnatural to assume the Newburyport of 20, 30, 40 years ago will be the same as the one today or the community in the near future. New people come in with new ideas. Some work, some don’t. But that’s how growth occurs.

    So yes, newcomers need to show some understanding and respect for what was. But natives also need to respect the new ideas that come with new people.

    And I think most do. I’ve never lived in a town where the people were as friendly, welcoming and inclusive. So thanks for that.

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