For a long time, the leaders of the Ward Three Civic Association and the Northampton Planning Department have assumed that a project that many Northampton area people had put a great deal of work into was on track; that it was on its way to being approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the federal department of the Interior. The area being promoted as a federal historic district includes Pomeroy Terrace and parts of Bridge, Hawley and Hancock streets, Phillips and Butler places, as well as the Bridge Street Cemetery. A 56 page application listing significant historical landmark buildings and documenting the history of the neighborhood had been prepared and dated June 30 2015.
Now it turns out that for two years the application has been sitting in someone’s desk. As time went by, phone calls were made to Springfield. Sarah LaValley of the planning department was assured by a Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) specialist, Elizabeth Rairigh, that she had completed the application and forwarded it to the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Now it turns out that Rairigh is no longer around. She is working for the State of Pennsylvania and never completed the application or forwarded it to Boston for approval. Several other applications for landmark status from other area communities were also gathering dust. Even though Rairigh is still listed on the PVPC website as their contact person for historic preservation work, she left the agency in late December of last year. I reached her at her new job at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Harrisburg and asked why she had never forwarded our application to Boston and she asserted the application was in Boston. She then told me that she would get back to me. The phone has been quiet.
The deputy director of PVPC, James Mazik called Jerry Budgar of the Association about ten days ago and apologized for their failure to follow through on our application. This morning he returned my call and said that Bonnie Parsons, who had worked on the application before her retirement, had agreed to come back to work and finish it up. It might be several weeks or longer because some rewriting needs to be done and photographs added to the narrative. The hiatus means that there’s a different gang down there now in Washington and by the time our application arrives the Department of the Interior may be a ghost of its old self.