Sunday, November 26, 2006

My 20 Page Paper on Lynn

Consider this an incoherent babble-on of epic proportions on the city I've come to know and love (the incoherent-ness is my thesis, be forewarned). I'm quickly becoming an expert on the economic development (or lack thereof) of the city of sin - Lynn. Lynn. It's the darndest city you've ever been in. Don't ask for water, you'll probably get gin. Wait a minute, why aren't people flocking to Lynn? What better draw is there to a town than a permanent, open bar? Some people call it the shoe town. Lynn tried to call it the city of firsts. But sin fits real well.

A Lynn denizen at the local watering hole.

Okay, so Lynn had the first Rolling Stones concert in America - which is pretty cool - but is that a statement for or against the City of Sin? And who cares about the first jet engine? I'm much more interested in the fact that the Chamber of Commerce's big economic stimulus plan in the 60s and 70s was putting out flowers in Downtown. Let me just say, it didn't work. Neither did the brick walkways (which were later destroyed) or parking bans (which were later removed).

The interesting thing is after years of stagnation, population decline, high crime and terrible schools - for some inexplicable reason, Lynn seems to finally be on the rebound. People are (and I couldn't believe this if not for the fact I envision myself joining them) moving there. Crime is down, especially in the downtown area. Some restaurants are moving in. The tech industry, the last false hope, may be ready to actually start to pay dividends for the city.

Of course, there's always inept political (machine) leadership. Good ol Mayor Chip's doing a wonderful job, selling off large swathes of land for pennies on the dollar - instead of, oh, I don't know, using that land for useful, city purposes. For example, Lynn could have built the new Classical High School on the site of the old Convalescent Home... but they decided it was a much better idea to sell that lot off for about a million (cheap change for the acreage) and put Classical in a sinking swamp. Why build one high school when you can pay for two? (The costs to repair the sinking gym and other damages to Classical are 20 million or more.)

Still, though, if Massachusetts is to truly become a Commonwealth, cities like Lynn need to be at the forefront. Massachusetts can't be considered prosperous until, once again, every son and daughter going to school in Lynn has parents who can afford to help send them to college. The days of GE jobs paying the bills are long dying, but that doesn't mean the American Dream has to be over.

If I were a far smarter person, I'd have some real suggestions. How about some flowers in Downtown?

If there's anything I've learned about Lynn is that it's damned if it does, damned if it doesn't. Addressing some issues facing Lynn will hurt its effort at others. Spend more on police and you'll spend less on teachers - and crime will undoubtedly go up in the future. Spend less on police, more on teachers, and crime will go up - people will move away and the stigma, which is at fault for Lynn's failures as much as any reason, will continue. Oh, and those people who moved away? They're not paying taxes, so teachers will have to be cut anyway. Lynn's damned if it tries to revive industry, but damned if it allows the last few thousand manufacturing jobs to go away without a fight. The Tech industry is something, but we're already seeing tech jobs ship overseas and bubbles burst. Lynn's kinda damned, huh? No wonder they call it the city of sin?

Perhaps this was incoherent not because I couldn't piece it together, but for a more intentional reason. The dilemmas facing Lynn are wide and varied. They're incoherent and discombobulated. Lynn is facing an identity crisis - and until those issues are resolved, brink cities like Lynn can never fully rebound - to the detriment of us all.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Marshmallow fluff, you forgot about marshmallow fluff.

Joe said...

I read that the much more affluent Swampscott ceded from Lynn in the 1800's. Aren't we the gentry, Ryan? Haha.

Gin is terrible, by the way. I partially blame Ray Bennett for me feeling that way.

Ryan Adams said...

Ya, Swamspcott did, but without complaint from Lynn at the time.

I can understand people not liking the taste of gin. It's pretty strong and different. To sum up the words of my friend, "if I wanted to drink gin, I'd just let eat some pine." That said, I love gin.

Ryan Adams said...

ps I did forget Marshmellow fluff!

Joe said...

That would be because gin is distilled from juniper berries, which are somewhat evergreenish as far as berries go. I love the taste of gin, which is frankly what lead to a series of unfortunate events that cause me to fall ill in its presence.

Ryan Adams said...

Speak no more. I used to love the Captian's spiced rum - key words "used to."

Joe said...

I feel your pain!!!

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