For years Derry has been chipping away at its history in the name of tax revenue, yet we have one of the highest property tax rates in New Hampshire. I submit that the Taylor Library is the latest potential casualty among many since I moved here in 1970.
James MacGregor came here to what was then called Nutfield on April 11, 1719, almost 100 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and 294 years ago almost to the day.
Derry is hugely underpublicized for its rich history. In my opinion, that has produced a disregard for it and the resulting destruction of it.
The Caroline Murdock White property, the place where the first Irish potato was grown in America, is the most glaring. The town of Derry, with 10 years to do so, chose to sell the property rather than keep it as conservation land. We now have 800 apartments there — as of 1998 the largest housing complex in New England — because the prevailing thought was that it was more important to bring in tax revenue than own vacant land. While it sounded good to some, to others like myself the cost of educating just one child for every four apartments — 200 additional children — negated any tax benefit. In this economy it is most likely more. In came the need for an additional middle school.
Has this been cost effective for the citizens of Derry or was it a great coup for a real estate agent and a developer? One day after ground was broken, Carrie White’s home built in 1779 was gone.
We have just torn down another piece of Derry history — the Pinkerton Tavern — to make way for a wider road to get to Wal-Mart. We forfeited a lovely, successful eatery and piece of history rather than sit in traffic for five more minutes.
We tore down the lovely post office on Broadway rather than do a restoration and recycle it into something else. We now have a CVS with a parking lot you can’t turn around in.