NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 23, 2014

Amesbury's 'brand' lies in the welcome signs


Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

The concept of “branding” Amesbury, which was brought up last year, wasn’t necessarily a bad one. However, I would suggest that the $20-$30,000 that was proposed to hire someone who might turn Amesbury’s fortunes around by creating a new image would have been much better used to upgrade the city “welcome” signs, which are outdated, under-maintained (if they are maintained at all), unlit and poorly situated.

Assuming the city has responsibility or jurisdiction of these signs (I assume it does), it is worth noting that millions of dollars in additional municipal money have been taken in over the last eight or so years (to the point that there’s even a sizable amount of free cash), and yet not even a small fraction of that has been proposed to maintain or upgrade Amesbury’s curb appeal in one of the most obvious ways, or at least it seems that way.

Each time I drive past the Route 110/150 intersection (Andyman’s location) and look at the rusting, paint-chipped, broken and/or misplaced signs, I get aggravated. As a property owner, I know full well that the way I maintain my property has a huge impact on its value and neighboring property values, and makes my property either something aesthetically attractive to look at or an eyesore. Amesbury’s signs — and I know of at least three (150 north of downtown, 110 near the 495 overpass and routes 110/150 intersection) — are an eyesore and, furthermore, an embarrassment. They speak volumes about the direction the city has taken since they were erected; and, if left as are, they speak volumes about where Amesbury is headed.

With Amesbury’s 350th anniversary since incorporation around the corner (1668-2018), and with an impetus to attracting new business and residents into the city, I would urge whoever is in a position to do so to take a look at this issue. I think the current signs, being in the condition they’re in, have Amesbury branded, in many ways, as a city in decay, not of growth or prosperity — and it wouldn’t take a paid consultant to figure this out. Upgrading them would send a strong message, to visitors and residents, that Amesbury is, or desires to be, a vibrant community, conscious of its past, and has a lot to offer.

Lastly, perhaps there are some residents or businesses that could offer up skills, labor, materials or capital to defray some of the costs of designing and upgrading the signs (architects, landscape architects, hardware owners, landscapers, masons, electricians, carpenters, etc., come to mind, as a start). Going further, why not approach some large companies with historic Amesbury ties to sponsor some improvements? For examples, General Mills, Inc. (which owns Pillsbury Flour Company); Macy’s Inc. (the department store); and General Motors.

John Donnell

Amesbury