, Newburyport, MA


February 15, 2013

Lawler's work for downtown, industrial park should not be forgotten


Ten years earlier he had been a guest speaker at a city-wide meeting of Newburyport’s private and political leaders. Cook had been explicit in his call for a not-for-profit corporation as being essential, and that had finally been formed. When contacted, he was equally insistent as to his need to work outside the political box.

He would be employed by the city and paid by the city. He would not, however, work in City Hall. The city would pay his salary and that of a secretary, and he would come from Toledo, Ohio, only if he were not required to report to any elected officials, but only to the Newburyport Area Industrial Board.

That was a revolutionary idea, but the rebuilding of a manufacturing base was as essential to the city’s needs as was the restoration of the downtown.

Nevertheless, both Mayor Lawler and the City Council agreed. Cook brought the fund drive to its satisfactory conclusion, oversaw the purchase of land and the birth of the Lord Timothy Dexter Industrial Park — the name Cook proposed because it represented extraordinary vision and venture.

So was that of Mayor George H. Lawler Jr. in his extraordinary efforts to shape the stage for all that followed in the city of his birth.

He is the only mayor of the city’s historic rise from its depths to its flowering whose contributions are not recognized by public notice.

Surely that must be changed.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His e-mail address is

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