Biography of Albert G. Decie II
The trail is named after Albert G. Decie II, a resident in the adjacent Russell Terrace Street near Storey Avenue. He and another neighbor, Gloria Braunhardt strived to gather enough signatures to place the preservation of the abandoned Route 95 roadbed as a city priority. Originally planned to be a four-lane road down to factories and residences; he recognized that the quality of life of the average Newburyporter would suffer greatly. The trees are a sound buffer that prevents the highway noise from funneling into the center of the city. The area is also home to one of the major river streams of the Parker River Watershed. This ‘Little River’ doesn’t stay a little river during acute storm events. Removing the natural habitat would open for downriver flooding endangering farms, the Great Marsh which is a nursery for ocean fish; and causing great harm to the lower downstream industrial park and the Quail Run residential neighborhood.
Albert Decie along with his nearby neighbor, Gloria Braunhardt, tirelessly stood around town and worked signing people up for a petition to be put on the ballot preserving this abandoned Route 95 area of 56.4 acres. They organized an ‘Axe the Access Road’ campaign which aggressively promoted the preservation of the open space. Though non-binding, the residents of the City made it clear they wanted to preserve their quality of life by turning down any efforts to install factories and residences in this buffer zone. Successful in their efforts, the city voted in a non-binding resolution to preserve this sensitive area.
This sparked a great interest in continuing the ad-hoc citizen group which became the Citizens for Environmental Balance or CEB. Adversaries complained that the organization was simply NIMBY in its mission so CEB began to promote the adoption of the Community Preservation Act in Newburyport. Again, a petition to put it on the ballot was made and the main thrust was to preserve the acreage of the historic Common Pasture of which the 56.4 acres was an integral part. Winning again, the adversaries tried to reduce the percentage of surcharge and then tried to double the purchase price of the land in the Upper Little River Watershed. Each action was either defeated or overcome. As icing on the cake, the first act of the newly acquired CPA was to purchase a large section of the Common Pasture which became the Cooper North Pasture Preserve to be managed by the Water Department (Many springs are located on the property). Meanwhile, the watershed group, Parker River Clean Water Association, being a 501(c)3 organization; undertook creating a nature trail in the 56.4 acre parcel along Route 95. Working with CEB, the trail became an integral part of the City’s infrastructure.
With Al Decie’s leadership, CEB grew in size with informed, citizen activists and moved on to promote aggressive conservation projects such as the capping and monitoring of the Crow Lane Landfill and pursuing more areas for open space protection. Informed members went on to run for public office or to volunteer on city boards and commissions and have greatly influenced the creation of sensible Master Plan measures for environmental balance and the preservation of the quality of life not just for humans but for wildlife in the region.
Albert Decie resigned his post in the early 2000’s, after much accomplishments under his belt, having inspired so many; and has retired to live in Salisbury with his wife, Vicki, where he resides today.
His greatest legacy in the Environmental Movement is the defeat of that old saying, “You can’t fight City Hall’. Not only did he show the fallacy of that saying but did it with little or no finances showing that advocacy and dedication to a cause through informing citizens of the issues trumps all.
The City of Newburyport owes a great debt of thanks to him and has honored him by renaming the Little River Nature Trail the Albert G. Decie II Little River Nature Trail.