To the editor:

As if the number of signs during Yankee Homecoming for “If this house could talk” wasn’t evidence enough of all the pride and sense of community in the South End, you’d get an eyeful of anti “Cannibal City”-like behavior at City Hall recently.

The topic was the Brown School, with a large group of South End residents in the auditorium. And people clapped.

They clapped for those that spoke in favor. They clapped for those that spoke against. They clapped for “tear it all down and sell the property.” They clapped for “we need more affordable housing.” They clapped for “keep the historical facade.” And they clapped the most for, “Let’s keep Newburyport Youth Services here!”

It wasn’t that long ago that NYS was moved from the Kelley School over to the Brown School, not without a lot of teeth gnashing. What about parking? Will there be more hooliganism? Noise! Traffic! Who is watching the kids?

Years later, with much credit to Andi Egmont (the director), we have a neighborhood that uses the gym, admires the service and adores the kids — and we want to hug them as close as we can.

Or if NYS does move, we think that plan is a priority before anything that happens to the building. The neighborhood made those feelings well known. What I saw at the meeting was a council diligently listening, and neighbors seriously struggling with tough issues.

Not everyone is going to be happy in the end, and the fat lady is far from singing on this one. But if the amount of shared purpose, respectful dialogue and common ground was an indicator, we’ve come a long way from Bossy’s “Asbestos” (”too hot to handle”) and Tom Ryan’s “Cannibal City”.

No doubt, we’ll have our moments when we regress to true in-your-face dialogue, with a few choice words thrown in for a taste of the good, old days on “Slime Street.”

But, at a time when silly, disrespectful behavior is happening at the national level, it’s a real pleasure to get one’s faith in humanity, and respect for neighbors, confirmed. In front of our kids that were in the room, no less. Thank you, South End!

Jack Santos

Spring Street


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