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"Our Town" By James W. Tucker
Thursday, August 6, 1953
In this column on Thursday, January 1, 1953, we suggested four community projects for the new year. The hope was expressed that our citizens would (1) cooperate in an effort to have further state aid extended in behalf of serious beach needs through legislative enactment; (2) would have an opportunity to express by referendum vote their opinion with relation to extending to our over-worked selectmen, the expert services of a town manager; (3) would request a well formulated master plan for the orderly development of our town and (4) would cooperate as individuals, civic groups and service clubs in a project to buy, move to Tuck Field and restore the old "Main Road School House," the only one-room district school building left in our town.
Looking at the Record
Seven months of 1953 have past and, as Al Smith used to say, "let's look at the record" of what has transpired in relation to the four projects mentioned above. Action was taken in relation to all four and we will examine the record in reverse order, taking up first, "Operation, Little Red School House."
The School House Project
This project has been two thirds completed, thanks to the interest, ingenuity and tenacity of one of our town's most respected citizens, Miss Adeline Marston
. Having been a popular school teacher for many years, it is not difficult to understand Miss Marston's personal interest in this particular project, an interest which had been stimulated long before mention was made in this column of rehabilitating the old district school. It happens that Miss Marston is president of the Hampton Historical Society which, by the way, holds its annual meeting on next Saturday, August 8 (1953)— a meeting to which all citizens of Hampton are cordially invited. Knowing of the Society's interest in preserving the last remaining district school house in our town and being also aware of the activity of a prospective buyer who intended to move that school out of town, Miss Marston arranged with the Society which she heads for the immediate purchase of the old district school house.
The Energetic Miss Marston
Then, this energetic and enterprising lady saw to it that the school house was moved from up in back of Helen Henderson's barn to its present location on the abandoned foundation of the razed replica of Hampton's first church in Tuck Field, just north of the Memorial Green. And Miss Marston and the Historical Society have restored the old school, up to the point of the interior finish and the furnishing. What we had hoped might be a community project turned out to be a one-woman project with an assist from Mrs. Henderson, the former owner, in the form of a sales price reduction and a big assist from the Historical Society which furnished the funds to advance the project to its present stage of completion.
Time for Community Action
Now, it's really time for community cooperation on the schoolhouse restoration project and this cooperation is needed for so many good and sufficient reasons that it would take an entire column to enumerate all of them. Here is a job which the public affairs committees of the Lions and Kiwanis Clubs and of the American Legion should really get their teeth into. And the boys and girls work committees of these same organizations also have a right to project themselves into the picture, for the authentic restoration of the old district school is certainly one splendid way of proving to the present day youngsters that in all matters pertaining to education they are a pretty fortunate group of boys and girls. It would be a mighty good lesson if they could see with their own eyes the exact environment in which their grandfathers studied and recited just a few generations ago. Miss Marston and the Historical Society need cooperation now in a worthwhile project which will bring thousands of dollars worth of good publicity to our town. Our Chamber of Commerce should also be interested from this practical angle of publicity.
Project Which Concerns Planning
Taking up the New Year projects in reverse order as was suggested at the outset we come next to the suggestion of planning for Hampton. And our mind immediately reverts to an editorial published in this paper on Thursday, September 25, 1952, headed. "Patchwork Planning." The editors summed up the situation by stating that with relation to planning in our town, "we can keep on patching, ineffectively but persistently at least, or we can tackle the problem in the manner we should have in the beginning and start the wheels moving in the direction of adopting a master plan of development." To this sentiment we can add a hearty and reverent amen!
Planning Resolution Passed
We did start the wheel moving at the town meeting last March when a resolution was unanimously adopted calling upon our Planning Board to obtain detailed information from one or more city and town planning authorities concerning an adequate planning job for our town. We assume that this either has or will be done. As everyone knows, zoning ordinances are practically always based on careful planning. Our zoning laws inadequate in the first instance for many reasons including the fact that they were not predicated on proper planning, have become ambiguous, botched, garbled and messy because of the unusual practice of permitting their amendment in regular or special town meetings. Usually, proposals for amending zoning laws are, in the first instance, referred to the planning board for approval, before being submitted to town meetings or city councils for action.
Scrap Present Ordinances
Under present circumstances, it may be a good idea to have a plan drawn up for the orderly development of the Hampton of the future by competent professional planners, upon which adequate and just zoning ordinances may properly be based. And in the meantime, our town would probably be better off if we scrapped for good and all the present ordinances which have apparently become the football of greedy groups and a few very selfish individuals. However, an official request has been made by our citizens to the proper authorities, asking them to secure facts relative to the cost of a master plan, including a land-use map and other necessary details. This request undoubtedly will be heeded.
The Town Manager Project
Proponents of the town manager plan arranged for the referendum which was held at the last town meeting. The plan was defeated, but its backers were greatly heartened by the large number of favorable votes that were received in spite of their half-hearted and lackadaisical campaign efforts. There was nothing half-hearted about the efforts of the group opposed to the plan and their persistent, painstaking canvass against a town manager for Hampton paid off. In all probability another referendum on the same question will be held next March. Local municipal events that have happened and will occur in the future may, in a great degree be responsible for the constantly growing sentiment in our town for efficient government based wholly on law rather than partly on custom, tradition and sentiment. The town manager plan is made to fulfill such an imperative need.
The Legislative Project
The citizens of our town certainly cooperated one hundred per cent with our representatives in the General Court and with the leading proponents of the legislation designed to halt erosion along our main beach and to secure proper seawalls to protect the exposed parts of Hampton shores against ravages of storm and tides. And as a result of this cooperation the necessary laws were enacted. We hope and expect that all of the effort will be translated into action this fall.
A Keen, Progressive Community
And so four projects, outlined at the beginning of the year as well worth striving for in 1953, have been acted upon inside of seven months. All of which goes to prove that our town is a keen, progressive community as well as one of the fastest growing towns in the state, if not in all New England.
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