Seems that a lot of people who live in this area don't choose it just as a place to hang their hat. They live here because it's a lifestyle choice.

We're blessed to have expansive and beautiful beaches, an easily accessible waterfront, great downtowns with lots to offer, wonderful parks, an active social and arts community, interesting neighborhoods and a wide variety of scenic vistas.

Some of these things are protected forever. Others are not. And right now, one of them is facing a "now or never" deadline that is worth acting upon.

For decades, if not centuries, Newbury's Lower Green has been the image of New England pastoral tranquility. It was the center of Newbury's first settlement in 1635, created a mere 15 years after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth. There's no trace left of Plymouth's original settlement, but Newbury's 1635 common has, against the odds, survived the march of time. Its appearance today isn't drastically changed from a century or more ago, but that may not be the case for long.

A field next to the green is slated to be developed into three home lots. That field has for decades served as the visual backdrop for the green. With houses on it, the green will never again look the same.

A Newbury-based nonprofit group, Save the Lower Green, has been diligently raising the $500,000 needed to save the vista. It is up against a Sept. 30 deadline to raise the last $100,000 and is hoping that a surge of public donations will make that goal.

All of the money raised by the group will go toward buying and preserving the 4-acre tract in perpetuity. It will be owned and managed by the Essex County Greenbelt association, a well-regarded nonprofit that has saved thousands of acres across the county. It will preserve the Lower Green's long-cherished appearance.

The Lower Common is one of those rare survivors of our country's earliest days, a 376-year-old landmark that should be passed on.

It is "now or never" — and hopefully the "now" will prevail.

Donations can be made through the website http://www.ecga.org/lowergreen.html.

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