Don’t forget to VOTE next Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in the presidential primary. This is a great link that tells you where to go and what the ballot will look like, whether you are a Democrat, a Republican, United-Independent or Green-Rainbow party member.
One of my most favorite small houses in the South End is getting a redo. As I looked inside, nosey person that I am, what was being taken out was the center chimney that ran up the middle of the house. And it was amazingly massive, as I walked by the next day and the chimney removing folks were still at it. They said that they were removing the chimney because it took up too much room in the new redo.
And as I was taking a walk through Newburyport’s historic South End, I was looking up, and I began to realize that there were a lot of houses that no longer have chimneys. And one of the other things that I began to realize, is that in the Fall there is rarely that chimney smell, the smell of burning wood, that I used to notice when the weather fisrt started to turn chilly. For a whole lot of reasons the Newburyport iconic chimney is beginning to disappear from the city’s street scapes.
For me the chimney has always been a symbol of warmth, family, hearth, home. Houses with chimneys were in drawings by small children when they drew a picture of a family house, with the smoke going up the chimney. Santa comes down the chimney. Chimneys are a big part of what is important to historic preservationists and folks who love old towns and old homes, for a good reason, they are iconic. Iconic New England historic houses have chimneys.
The new heating systems no longer need chimneys. Chimneys take up a lot of room in a house. Instead of creating ambiance, and being valued, they now seem to be a nuisance. Chimneys are often in the middle of a house, which now gets in the way of a family having an open concept. And compared to wood fireplaces, gas fireplaces are less trouble, they might not smell as homey, but they are a whole lot easier — just a flick of a switch. Gas fireplaces can be put in a whole lot of places, and they don’t need chimneys. And not a whole lot of people cook in a fireplace anymore (oh, how I love those huge fireplaces in some of the old homes in Newburyport where people once cooked their meals). Times have changed and are changing.
People who do renovations, a gut and redo, every now and then put up a “fake” chimney where the real one used to be. These folks are often made fun of, but I would far prefer that, which is at least an attempt to keep Newburyport’s story, than many of the candy cane exhaust systems that I see sticking out of houses now as I walk around the South End.
The new heating systems, although wonderful in their efficiency, are one more thing that is slowly changing the historic city scape of Newburyport. This change is fairly recent, when the Federal Street Overlay was created, not too long ago, chimneys were a “must have.” Every home in the Federal Street Overlay has chimneys. Chimneys are no longer a “must have,” they have become an inconvenience.
And sometimes with these small incremental changes, it feels as if the historic fabric of Newburyport, Newburyport’s story is being shredded by a thousand papercuts. What is a historic preservationist to do? How can we who love old homes and historic cities, inspire people to keep that part of the story, while also appreciating the practical reasons why this change is coming about. More hard questions with no easy answers.
Newburyport City Councilor-at-Large Debate
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
The Nock Middle School Auditorium
(90 minutes long)
It will also be carried on Port Media, the city’s cable TV station.
The sponsors are The Daily News of Newburyport, the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, WNBP radio, and Port Media. The debate will be moderated by WNBP’s Peter Falconi. Panelists will be Daily News Editor John Macone and Chamber Legislative Affairs Committee Chairwoman Mary Anne Clancy.
The election is Tuesday, Nov 3, 2015
A list of the candidates running for Newburyport City Council and Newburyport School Committee with website and Facebook information.
And here is a link to the Newburyport City Councilor-at-Large debate that was held on October 20, 2015.
Newburyport Local Pulse podcast with all 9 Newburyport City Councilors-at-Large.
This is what distresses me about the Smart Growth 40R Process.
By sinabeet on Flickr, “Hand say Hand Listen,” Creative Commons License
The problem is with the citizens of Newburyport who are not paying attention, not with the elected officials and folks on volunteer boards who made the Smart Growth 40R District happen.
1) This is not new.
The 40R was first proposed way, way back in 2004. This idea is not new to Newburyport. People are presenting this new zoning law as if it just came out of the blue. They are wrong.
2) No one was paying attention.
- If people had been paying attention to the 40R as early as January 2014, things might have turned out much differently.
- I was blogging about it since January 2015, and no one was listening, and I couldn’t get anyone to listen. I actually went around and talked to people explaining that this was probably one of the biggest long term projects that Newburyport was looking at, and it would affect everyone. I actually had people turn their backs on me and walk away while I was talking in mid-sentence. No one cared.
- I talked to at least one city councilor who had reservations about the project, and they couldn’t get anyone to listen either. We both agreed that trying to get people to pay attention was like talking to a wall.
3) Do not complain after the fact.
If you do not show up and pay attention EARLY in the process when things are being decided and problem solving is taking place, do not complain after the fact.
4) Pay attention NOW.
This is a multi decade project that will go through multiple administrations and planning directors. The 2 things that are on the docket now is the Graf Road Pump Station and the Minco Building.
5) Stop making excuses.
If you really care about this project, and just don’t want to complain about it, follow those 2 initial projects, the Graf Road Pump Station and the Minco Building. If you cannot make it to meetings, talk to city councilors and other people who do attend those meetings. You can find out who is interested by asking around (I do), or reading the minutes (I do), which are online on the city’s website, see who shows up and contact them. Reading the minutes of the meetings helps too.
6) Stop throwing people under the bus because you think that they are not listening to you.
The time to get elected officials and volunteer boards to listen to you is in the BEGINNING of a project when decisions are being made — not after all the work has been done. Stop throwing elected officials and volunteer board members under the bus, because you were not paying attention when this 40R Smart Growth District was being worked on.
If I lived in a red-leaning Southern State, I would be viewed as a dark-green, environmental socialist. In Massachusetts, I think I would be viewed as a light-green environmental trouble maker, pain in the butt.
When it comes to mandatory composting in Newburyport (we are not there yet, but that is the endgame). “NO.”
As a friend of mine said, “No is a complete sentence.”
A lot of people I know are really, really excited about the two year pilot composting program that Newburyport is “experimenting” with (the Newburyport Organics Pilot Program, Towards Zero Waste Newburyport) . For them, “It’s the bomb.” And I’m thrilled for them.
As the old saying goes, on this one, “Live and let Live.” For all the folks out there who are wicked excited — Awesome!! And there are lots and lots of folks, who if it is compulsory, will not comply, period. And they are too afraid to speak up, because they feel as if they are being manipulated and railroaded into eventually having mandatory composting.
“No is a complete sentence.” On mandatory composting, “No.” And for those who are excited, go for it, just do not make it obligatory for every resident in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
What these three young men have in common, to paraphrase President Kennedy, is, “Ask not what Newburyport can do for you, but ask what you can do for Newburyport.”
And for me, these three young men honor Newburyport, they link the stories of Newburyport’s past to what will be the story of Newburyport’s future.
I first got to know Tom Salemi when he became a fellow Newburyport blogger, the editor of The Newburyport Posts. Tom had been a reporter for the Newburyport Daily News in the early to mid 1990s, left Newburyport and then returned to our wonderful city.
Much to my surprise (and I was somewhat alarmed for his sanity), Tom jumped in feet-first into the world of Newburyport civics, and became a member of what I think of as Newburyport’s most toxic committee, the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA).
Tom became a member while the NRA was exploring the possibility of putting some buildings on Newburyport’s Waterfront. The chaos and hostility that ensued was mind-boggling, I was sure that Tom would step down. But Tom Salemi did not, instead he became chair of the NRA (I worried for his sanity), and has throughout his tenure conducted himself with grace and dignity, listening to the overall call for the Waterfront to remain “open,” and withstanding the onslaught of Citizens for an Open Water Front (COW) and calls by members of the Newburyport City Council for the NRA to disband.
You got to really love your city to preservere and work as a member of the NRA and to look for a solution that has alluded the city for 50 years. This young man, Tom Salemi, self deprecating, funny, and without a hint of entitlement, gives me hope for Newburyport’s future.
I first got to know Jared Eigerman during the push to have Newburyport have a Local Historic District (LHD). And then, much to my delight, Jared decided to run for Newburyport City Council for Ward 2, and he won.
Jared was born in Newburyport, left our city and has now come back. He is a native son. Jared is one smart cookie, and again, self deprecating and without a hint of entitlement. He wanted to become a city councilor not for power or to one day become mayor, but, in his words to me, “to write good laws.” And the first law/ordinance that Jared sponsored, was to protect downtown Newburyport and Newburyport’s Historic District, something that people had been trying to do for 50 years. It passed the Newburyport City Council unanimously, with the support of the “No LHD” folks and the “Yes LHD” folks. No small accomplishment. Yes, Newburyport historic preservationists still fight on, and people find ways to maneuver around the ordinance, but still, what an accomplishment.
Jared Eigerman honors Newburyport’s past, its stories, and wants to make sure that its history is intertwined with the story of Newburyport’s future. And Jared Eigerman is one of the young men in our historic city that gives me great hope for our future.
I don’t really know Alex Dardinski except through Facebook and talking to him while he takes his young son in his very cool bike, riding around our historic city. Alex was born and raised in Newburyport, his family moved here in the early 1970s when real estate could be bought for $9,000. Alex has witnessed the change in Newburyport and can envision its future. And Alex is passionate about a vision to make Newburyport more walkable and pedestrian friendly, and reducing a reliance on the automobile. He is involved in Newburyport’s Greenway and Newburyport’s Open Street Event.
Alex has also written a very thoughtful post for The Newburyport Blog on historic preservation in Newburyport, and his own personal experience of renovating an historic home.
As many people know, I love walking in Newburyport. I do it every day, and I also love historic preservation, and that may be why I resonate with Alex Dardinski so much. And Alex is one of those people who links the stories of Newburyport’s past to what Newburyport’s story will become, and he gives me great hope for the future of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
The Newburyport Blog has all but disappeared from Google’s search engine, and I wanted to figure out why, I always have liked that question, “Why,” and got me to thinking, “What exactly is The Newburyport Blog anyway??”
The Newburyport Blog is not a place to find out where to eat or shop in Newburyport. There are many Newburyport websites now, including Google (which is almost becoming a website itself instead of a Search Engine), which would give answers to that question.
The fascination that I have, is not where to eat or shop in this wonderful historic city, but the fact that over the years the kind of restaurants and shops have radically changed (The General Store, the hardware/lumber store have been replaced by high end restaurants, spas, boutiques and very expensive furniture stores), and “Why” is that? and what does it say about Newburyport and how the culture in Newburyport is changing. What makes Newburyport “tick?” (the definition of “tick,” a verb, is “The motive and explanation of behavior” — that is what engages me.
The question of what makes Newburyport “tick,” was one of the reasons I was so hooked our once local political journal, The Undertoad. Despite Tom Ryan’s very often, in my opinion, offensive, bombastic, childish and sometimes just downright sadistic approach to reporting the “underside of Newburyport,” The Undertoad’s basic premise was “What makes Newburyport tick?”
When Ulrika Gerth was editor of The Newburyport Current, she had an underlining theme, “What makes Newburyport tick??”
And Tom Salemi, the editor of The Newburyport Posts, with his journalist education, and his light, amicable, often deceivably “simple” posts, also had an underlining theme of “What makes Newburyport tick.” (Come back to blogging Tom Salemi!!)
And Jerry Mullins, God bless him, with his long, researched, valuable content (that Google seems to ignore, so much for Google valuing “valuable content”), over at Brick and Tree, has that same theme too, “What makes Newburyport tick??”
And there are also the blogs by many Newburyport Councilors that address that very same question in a variety of ways.
The Newburyport Blog does have stuff on “gluten free,” but have you noticed the changes in restaurants, etc, gluten free has roared into out culture.
Where to park in Newburyport?? earlier post. Well, I never, ever thought we would have paid parking, but we do. It says something about our town (good stuff for a blog post).
And lots of Google search changes:
Ask for “Newburyport restaurants.” Google itself, not the webpages it “represents” in its search engine, will give you an answer.
Ask for 20+10, you will get an answer from Google, no need to go looking for a calculator on a website anymore.
Ask for information on “zucchini” and you will get Google’s answer. No need to look for a webpage anymore.
Ask for “Following Atticus,” Tom Ryan’s (Undertoad Tom Ryan) book. Google will tell you all about it, need to got to a website?? Maybe.
Look for “Newburyport,” Google will give you an answer, maybe not a good answer, but an answer. That answer will get better, more refined, and pretty soon — no longer need to go to a website anymore.
Look for “Why Newburyport is the way it is today, culturally, socio-economically, architecturally, politically?” That is not a simple question. And if that sort of question is important, maybe check out The Newburyport Blog, the Newburyport City Councilors’ websites, or go over to Brick and Tree and get Jerry Mullins take on what makes Newburyport “tick,” and maybe Tom Salemi will come back and blog again one day.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Jared Eigerman, 83 High St, Incumbent, Facebook Page
Robert Cronin, 126 Merrimac St, #46, Incumbent, Website
Thomas O’Brien, 11 Moseley Ave, Incumbent
Newburyport Councilor at Large (5 seats)
Laurel Allgrove, 22 Beacon Ave., #2
Ed Cameron, 17 Oakland St, Incumbent, Website, Facebook Page
Barry Connell, 36 Woodland St, Incumbent
Greg Earls, 25 Milk St, former City Councilor and mayoral candidate, Website
Robert Germinara, 2 Ashland St
Lyndi Lanphear, 347 High St, Website
Sheila Mullins, 7 Parsons St, Website
Bruce Vogel, 90 Bromfield St, Incumbent, Website
Joseph Devlin, 3 Dexter Lane , Facebook page
Here is a link to a list of video interviews of all but 2 of the Newburyport City Councilors that are running, both in Ward races and At-Large races. The videos have been produced by Citizens for Environmental Balance (CEB) and they are very informative.
And here is a link to the Newburyport City Councilor-at-Large debate held on October 20, 2015. The sponsers were The Daily News of Newburyport, the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce, WNBP radio, and Port Media.
Newburyport Local Pulse podcast with all 9 Newburyport City Councilors-at-Large.
Newburyport School Committee (3 seats)
Running unopposed for a two year School Committee seat:
David Hochheiser Blog/Website
There is no election for mayor. This is the first year that Newburyport will be voting for the City Council and the School Committee without voting for a mayor. The mayoral term is now four years. The mayor is Donna Holaday.
Where to Vote!!
And if you do not know where to vote, there is a very cool tool to find out where to vote in Newburyport, Tuesday, November 3, 2015.
You just enter your street number, the street’s name, and your city or town, or your zip code, and it tells you exactly where to go (it even tells you which ward you are in, and how to get in touch with the City Clerk). It can be found here.
Ward 1 — Methodist Church, 64 Purchase Street
Ward 1 Plum Island — Plum Island Boat House, 300 Northern Boulevard, Plum Island
Ward 2 — Brown School, 40 Milk Street
Wards 3 and 4 — Hope Church, 11 Hale Street
Wards 5 and 6 — The new Senior Community Center, 331 High Street (In the past, these wards voted at the Bresnahan Elementary School.)
The Order for the Newburyport City Council-at-Large candidates as they will be on the ballot.
Councillor-at-Large 2 YEAR TERM
(9 CANDIDATES FOR 5 SEATS…IN ORDER ON THE BALLOT)
Lyndi L. Lanphear
Gregory D. Earls
Sheila A. Mullins
Barry N. Connell (Candidate for Re-Election)
Laurel R. Allgrove
Bruce L. Vogel (Candidate for Re-Election)
Robert A. Germinara
Joseph H. Devlin
Edward C. Cameron, Jr. (Candidate for Re-Election)
The Newburyport Absentee Ballot which looks like the November 3, 2015 ballot. This is the Ward 5 ballot, all the ward ballots will look different.
Newburyport postcards–whether you’re a native, have lived here for a while or a short time, people who live in Newburyport seem to love old postcards.
This postcard is of the haystacks on Newburyport’s Plum Island marsh, when they built the haystacks by hand and not by machine.
This is of Newburyport’s former YMCA on State Street that burnt down July 1987. The YMCA was at the corner of State Street and Harris Street, where the expansion of our beautiful Newburyport Library exists today. The YMCA was so decimated by the fire, that it was un-salvageable, eventually demolished, with a few of it’s elements incorporated into the MBTA train station in 1998.
This is a post card of Newburyport’s old Bridge, before Rt 1 was built in the 1930s. It is a view from Water Street, downtown Newburyport, looking towards Rings Island, Salisbury, MA.
And this is the Bartlet Mall along High Street when the stately elm trees existed. The Court House is to the left, and High Street is to the right.
The Master Plan for the Bartlet Mall had been worked on for a very long time, by a whole lot of people, and was finally finished in 1998. Restoration of the Bartlet Mall took place in 2001, 2003 and 2005. The Bartlet Mall was restored to its original design and the avenue of elm trees was replanted so that one day the beautiful canopy of trees would exist once more..
It is really hard to find a place to rent in Newburyport these days. If you go to Zillow and look for rentals in Newburyport, it’s very depressing. That is why the city is so hopeful about the proposed 40R, which is a real effort to bring back rental units back to Newburyport.
Here is a document from the city that articulates with data the gentrification that has taken place since Urban Renewal, especially interesting is the “Income Distribution by Household, 1989 to 2010″ on page 20 (an image of the table is in this post), that document can be read here.
In 1989 the largest percentage of income was $10,000-24,999. In 2010 the largest percentage is $150,000+, and that is in 2010, when we were still in the “great recession,” and I would think in 2015 that percentage would be much, much greater now.
And here is Jerry Mullins’, over at Brick and Tree, worst fears about what would happen to the proposed 40R. That post can be read here.
And here is a link to the discussion on The Newburyport Blog’s Facebook page, it can be read here.
Previous post on the proposed 40R District can be found here.
Here are some more table from the City of Newburyport’s report “Income Distribution by Household, 1989 to 2010.”
And here is a map of the proposed 40R Smart Growth District.
I’ve been trying to pinpoint what it is about Newburyport that I love so much. What keeps me longing to stay here despite a winter like the one we’ve just had.
Jerry Mullins in his blog post uses the word “romance” in connection to Newburyport, and it is an adjective that describes this small New England seacoast city north of Boston, that had never occurred to me, but it is a wonderful adjective. So I went on a hunt to see what showed up for “romanic cities.”
And I found a blog post by Ken Benfield, a specialist on “smart growth and sprawl,” with this list:
- Strong sense of place anchored by historic preservation
- Lively, walkable, diverse downtowns
- Compact development patterns
- Extensive and well-used public transportation
- Great public spaces for lively human interaction
- Parks and quiet places mixed in with urbanity
- Great traditional neighborhoods with a strong sense of community
- Welcoming to people of diverse cultures
In the comment section of the blog post there was this observation:
“Cities that are dense, walkable, have accessible and vibrant public spaces, and have a vibrant mix of independently-owned businesses are the most enjoyable places to visit – and to live. It is at the intersection of these features where real neighborhoods and a sense of livability is created. These cities are also strong, have committed populations and diverse economies, and can survive many challenges. In essence, they are not only beautiful and livable, they are resilient.”
We as a city are considering making the area around the train station and the traffic circle into a 40R, Smart Growth area. I have many reservations about what is projected for that area, including the Minco Project in back of the train station (which I think is wicked ugly). And I think that Jerry has nailed the adjective for me. It may be (or not be) good urban planning, but what the vision lacks, is the “romance,” “beauty,” a “sense of place” that draws so many of us here to Newburyport.
The Newburyport “Plastic Bag Ban” goes into effect March 29, 2015. Market Basket ran out of plastic bags and is already started with the plastic bag ban.
You can bring your recyclable bags, or get paper bags, paper boxes or pay 10 cents and get a recyclable plastic bag with handles that meets the new plastic bag ban law.
The new plastic bags at Market Basket are thicker, slightly larger, reusable and recyclable, they, “consists of 80% post consumer recycled material resulting in a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions. The bag “has been manufactured for multiple recuse and recyclability,” and continues to say on the bottom in LARGE letters, “After use life, please return to your local store for recycling.”
It appears that Market Basket listened to the Newburyport Commission on Disabilities who asked the folks who backed this idea to please make sure that there was a plastic bag that had handles. No one at all the meetings I went to seemed to listen or care–but Market Basket did. Good for them!!
This is what I have been asking for all along. So thank you Market Basket for being so responsive and responsible, both to your customers and to the “plastic bag ban folks” and to the environment.
Previous post on plastic bags can be read here.
I’ve seen the first draft of the new 40R Smart Growth District around the train station.
The proposed 40R District (see previous post) would allow for mixed use buildings near the train station, traffic circle, parts of Rt 1 and the area on lower State Street between Lunt and Kelly and the edge of the cemetery. There is a new updated map (see below), the larger area subdistrict B is zoned for 4 story buildings (45 ft), Subdistricts A and C is zoned for 3 story building (35 ft), and the Minco building would be zoned for 5 stories (55 ft).
And I’ve gone on a hunt for some good looking 4 story buildings. I have found only one photo that is in the public domain, it is in Portland Maine.
I’m a little confused about Google’s copyright laws, and WordPress does not allow me to embed Google’s images, so what I’ve done is put links to 4 story buildings in Portland ME, Providence RI and Haverhill MA. Haverhill has, on Washington Street, what I think is a gorgeous, but rundown historic section of 4 story building. I love them.
And when you press on the links for the different cities, you can go on a “Google drive” through the areas and see what you thinks works and what does not work. Interesting stuff. Also, the buildings take a few seconds to show up after you press the links.
In looking at the initial 40R draft (this is just the beginning of a large process that the city will go through) a couple of things stand out.
1) The design review is outstanding. Yah!! I hope that means that the Minco building will be forced to look awesome.
2) There is extensive input into the affordable housing aspect of the district (I’m sure the affordable housing folks with Phd’s in the subject, will have lots of input). It looked great to me.
3) Parking seems a little “skimpy” to me. A residential unit only gets one parking spot. But there is “shared parking,” with businesses and residents, which use parking at different times during the day and week, the objective being not to have lots of wasted, barren parking lots. There are so many people in this city who have Phd’s in parking, and I am not one of them. I am hoping, and pretty sure that they would figure out the “Goldilocks” version of parking, “not too much, not too little, but just right.”
4) The setbacks of the buildings are puzzling to me. There are “no requirements” on setbacks on front, side and rear yards. The way it was explained to me is that there would be no requirements for setbacks for mid-block buildings, but it might be a good idea to look at the setback requirements for intersections (and there seem to me to be a whole lot of intersections). At this point, we do not have close-up renderings of what buildings would look like in different areas of the proposed 40R District.
This is one of my main questions. I can’t imagine 4 story building around the traffic circle where Dunkin’ Donuts is and where the Bird Watcher is located. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live on that dangerous and noisy area, and being so close to a busy traffic circle. Renderings are definitely needed.
5) Not in the 1st draft, but backup information that would be arriving in the coming weeks that would include:
(1) estimated maximum dwelling units
(2) expected sewer flows (and how to pay for them)
(3) expected traffic impacts
(4) renderings/photo-simulations of new buildings
(5) expected impacts on schools
(6) expected c. 40R and c. 40S payments from the Commonwealth
(7) expected property tax revenues
Newburyport is beginning the process of thinking about rezoning the area around the train station, so that there can be a mix of residential units and businesses. This is called a 40R Smart Growth District. This is nothing new, the city has been talking about this since 2004.
“Chapter 40R, encourages communities to create dense residential or mixed-use smart growth zoning districts, including a high percentage of affordable housing units, to be located near transit stations, in areas of concentrated development such as existing city and town centers, and in other highly suitable locations.”
Here is a 2015 map of the proposed 40R District. It includes the area around Lunt and Kelly, where Dunkin’ Donuts is around the traffic circle, it goes up Rt 1 by Haley’s Ice Cream and includes the proposed building by Minco at the train station.
Here are the 2 conceptual drawing that were done in 2004 by the Planning Office. The view is from Parker Street coming from Newbury. The first rendering is the way it looks now, the second rendering, done in 2004 (we don’t have an update yet) is what the proposed 40R District might look like. It’s a little confusing, but if you download the two renderings and put them side by side it becomes a little clearer.
At the moment there is a certain “rush” to get this 40R District going, because Minco would like to build at the train station (this is nothing new, it has been going on for a while) and has a deadline (which may or may not be flexible). And the city gets money for a 40R District (we always need money).
BUT, I think that it is very important to ask hard questions during this process, and be sure to think things through.
So here are a few of my “hard” questions and concerns and reservations.
1) The Minco design at the train station has to look great. At the moment I haven’t talked to anyone who thinks that it is in anyway acceptable.
2) There needs to be a “design review” for that area. This gateway to the city can’t look awful.
3) Traffic. The maximum buildout, when last I heard was 800 units. Folks that I’ve talked to think that it would be a lot less, more like 500 units. We don’t know the exact numbers yet, but even 400-500 units is a lot.
The 2004 rendering of what the area would look like, seems idyllic to me. There are no cars. If that area were to be built out, at rush hour it would be a complete nightmare.
4) Pedestrian traffic. Even with the rail trail, there is no way to safely and or practically cross either the traffic circle or Route 1 to get downtown, even at the crossing at Rt1 at what is called “Back Bay.” People want to get from the area on foot and they want, and do try to get to State Street, which is insanely dangerous. I think at one point there was an idea for a pedestrian bridge, but, oh my, that would cost so much money.
5) I still can’t envision anyone wanting to live up along Rt1, even with the rail trail there. The view is butt ugly, with Rt1 on onside and a view of the Industrial Park on the other.
6) I also can’t imagine anyone wanting to live around the traffic circle, especially where Dunkin’ Donuts is located. The view towards Newbury as it is now, is lovely. However, I would think living next to a dangerous traffic circle would be unappealing, and figuring out a way to walk from there, much less having a denser number of people trying to exit at that location by car, raises the question of safety to me.
7) The area on State Street. The intersection where the Court House, Parker Street, State Street and the Traffic Circle intersect is wicked dangerous. I’ve seen really bad accidents there. If that area becomes densely populated, that intersection becomes even more dangerous. And I don’t like the prospect of getting MassDOT involved–Salisbury Square is a cautionary tale for everyone, of what never to do, and of how MassDOT can really mess up an area.
So, I totally get building at the train station if it is done well. And I have a lot of questions about building in the other proposed areas. And I hope, that through this process we don’t ram this through because of Minco’s deadline, and the fact that we would like the money from the state.
An idea. I’m brainstorming here.
The plastic bag industry definitely has gotten the memo loud and clear about recycling plastic bags. However, the plastic bag recycling industry wants clean dry thin filmed plastic bags for recycling, not soiled ones. That means they want plastic bags to be returned to participating stores. Neither the plastic industry or the City of Newburyport wants them in the recycling bins (plastic bags reek havoc for our recycling machines). The thin film plastic bags and other clean, dry thin film products are then bailed and shipped to places in the United States or to Canada or China for recycling. Recycling thin clean, dry thin film plastic is a billion dollar business, for real (see earlier entry).
So this might be a way to have small stores to be able to recycle plastic bags, if that is what they would like to do. Maybe the stores downtown, on Storey Avenue and in the Tannery might be able to participate (if they wanted to, along with providing reusable bags and bags made out of paper, I’ve seen some really nice ones from stores downtown). And maybe either Market Basket or Shaw’s might be able to be the “anchor store” (see below).
If the “industry” is involved, (the “bad guys”) in helping the city with a plastic bag recycling program, then the plastic bag industry has a real incentive to not only help us start something effective, but make sure that each year it becomes more and more successful.
So this is a quote from PlasticFilmRecycling.org on a “Business-to-Business” (B2B) pilot program. And the website may look like a non-profit, but the American Chemistry Council is behind it (see the fine print at the bottom). So yes, I am proposing that environmentalist work with “the bad guys” to come up with a solution instead of an outright ban on plastic bags. Nelson Mandela knew about working with your enemy–he becomes your partner.
This is from “Business-to-Business” (B2B), the entire link can be read here.
“The B2B recycling program staff facilitated partnerships with large retail “anchor” stores and their smaller neighbor merchants that are located in shopping centers and malls. The anchor stores serve as collection points for clean, used plastic bags and film from their customers and from the neighboring stores. The anchor store is then able to use its existing infrastructure to transfer or “backhaul” the plastic bags and film back centers in delivery trucks that would otherwise return empty to their distribution centers.
The smaller retailers benefit because they are able to take advantage of a recycling opportunity that in most cases would be too expensive or unavailable to them. The anchor store benefits by being able to sell more recyclable material and to promote its environmental efforts by using existing resources and committing to a relatively small increase in labor. The Orange County SWMD benefits in many ways including conservation of landfill space due avoided disposal of tons of plastic bags and film, increased recycling rates, and avoided costs for a commercial recycling program as a result of the successes of the B2B recycling program.”
And to learn about Marine Debris, visit NOAA’s (U.S Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Marine Debris website here, including information on what is sometimes referred to the great garbage patch, or how debris accumulates in the ocean here.
From NOAA: “Our oceans are filled with items that do not belong there. Huge amounts of consumer plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, vessels, and other lost or discarded items enter the marine environment every day, making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the world’s oceans and waterways…” “The term “Pacific Garbage Patch” is a popular nickname for an area of marine debris concentration in the North Pacific Ocean, located in between Hawaii and California…” “While higher concentrations of litter items can be found in this area, along with other debris such as derelict fishing nets, much of the debris is small pieces of floating plastic that are not immediately evident to the naked eye…”
And from NOAA’s Marine Debris Blog, which can be read here.
“With all of this information flying around, much of it conflicting, what is actually known about these topics? And what do we believe?
First, the name “garbage patch” is a misnomer. There is no island of trash forming in the middle of the ocean, and it cannot be seen with satellite or aerial photographs. While it’s true that these areas have a higher concentration of plastic than other parts of the ocean, much of the debris found in these areas are small bits of plastic (microplastics) that are suspended throughout the water column. A comparison I like to use is that the debris is more like flecks of pepper floating throughout a bowl of soup, rather than a skim of fat that accumulates (or sits) on the surface…”
“The bottom line really is that all of this human-made trash simply does not belong in our oceans or waterways…”
All of this is not good.
I just vowed I wouldn’t go there, put people ask me, “Why in the world do you want to have plastic bags so much?” And for anyone thinking or saying that I must be in the pocket of the plastic bag industry (because that seems to be the immediate reaction if you happen to like plastic bags), the answer is “No,” and believe me, I have opinions on stuff, people have accused me of a lot worse (see 7+ years of earlier posts).
I have something called celiac disease. It has been ruled as a disability under the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). Who knew? not me that it was ruled a disability, until all this research on plastic bags last week. See the link on ADA and celiac here.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has come out with a ruling saying something cannot be labeled gluten free, unless it is really and truly is gluten free, which they have said is 20 parts per million (20 ppm), in other words–a microscopic amount. You can read all about it here, if you feel like it. (That one I knew about, the FDA ruling thing. The White House actually sent me an email telling me about the new gluten food labeling by the FDA, it made my day, week, month, year.)
When I was diagnosed (and all of that info is on the blog if you want to go look for it) back in 2009, no one knew hardly nada about what celiac was. Now, gluten free, here we come, which as it plays out, is fantastic for people with celiac. I was told is that microscopic amounts would make me sick (as in eventually kills you), so scrub out your kitchen, throw out and replace all sorts of stuff. I thought they were being hysterical nut cases. It turns out “they” were right. When I got rid of anything that might have microscopic amounts of gluten, I started to get better.
The weird thing about celiac is that if effects everyone differently, it has all kinds of different symptoms, and basically they still know mostly nada. But I am one of those pesky folks where only digesting microscopic amounts takes me 6 weeks to recover. And am I paranoid about getting “glutened?” you bet I am.
Which brings me to plastic bags at the grocery store. When they open one of those plastic bags, I know that no gluten has ever, never ever, been in there. I am safe, safe, safe. No need to wonder, did I bring home gluten stuff in this bag? Do I throw this bag away? Do I throw them all away to be safe? No, every plastic bag is a safe bag for moi. And it brings peace of mind and serenity to the ever not wonderful challenge of going to the grocery store as a celiac (where gluten is everywhere and not in everything anymore, but still in tons of stuff). And I take those plastic bags that make me feel safe and never glutened, and recycle them back at the grocery store.
Whether people understand my fondness for plastic bags having celiac disease, is up to them. But for me, it is huge.
I went to Tuesday night’s meeting held by the Newburyport City Council on the Plastic Bag ban, and it was without doubt the most frustrating and depressing meeting that I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to a lot of meetings), and my read was that I wasn’t exactly alone in feeling that way.
The meeting seemed to me to be more about a homily to a plastic bag ban, than a how can we problem solve this together as a community. When I raised my hand, I said it felt a lot like being at a Waterfront meeting and being for some sort of buildings down there (you gotta live in Newburyport, to understand that one). (And this proposed ban is in 2 City Council committees, there will never be public hearings.)
There was a young lady at that meeting, and from what I could make out, she was not from Newburyport, who said that plastic bag lobbyists lived among our wards and were giving bribes to city councilors (city councilors, who were there, I may not have gotten that completely right, but that is basically what she said). I resent someone calling our local city government corrupt.
I chased down the plastic bag people who appear to recycle our plastic bags at Market Basket, Hilex Poly, to ask them to help us with a recycling program, I asked if it would be possible to have receptacles at the grocery stores that are fun and easy to notice. I ended up talking to the lobbyist, who does live in Newburyport, many people know him, he was the campaign manager to John Kerry in the senate race against Governor Weld in the 1996 senate race and was then Senator Kerry’s chief of staff (John Kerry is now the Untied States Secretary of State). One of the city councilors at the meeting remarked that he was in fact helpful (I don’t remember the exact words). Mr. Greenly agreed, and said he would get back to me this week. We’ll see.
The plastic bag industry has definitely got the memo that they better get going into putting a lot of effort into recycling plastic thin film bags. And I now know more than I ever imagined about recycling plastic bags.
This is appears to be the bottom line. There is a billion dollar recycling plastic thin filmed industry. There is a huge market for clean, dry thin filmed plastic, including clean, dry plastic bags. There isn’t a strong market for soiled plastic, but clean, dry plastic–it’s unbelievable the market for this stuff. If you go to the back of our grocery stores, there will be bails of clean thin filmed plastic (including the recycled plastic bags) along with bails of clean cardboard. Some of it is used here in the US (Hilex Poly has just built a $25 million dollar plastic bag recycling plant in Indiana). But the big bulk of it appears to be exported to China and Canada for big bucks, to be reused for all sorts of things, including decking by Trex.
And what I said at the meeting, is that every time I bring up the subject of recycling plastic bags as part of a 2 pronged strategy (used at a Mid-Atlantic grocery store called Wegmans, with the help of the plastic bag industry) of both recycling and using reusable bags, I get shouted down by environmentalists that recycling plastic bags is out of the question.
The plastic bags create absolute havoc with the machinery when they are put in the recycling bins here in Newburyport. They gotta go back to the grocery stores, Market Basket and Shaw’s (or places like Lowe’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club up in Seabrook). People don’t know to bring them back. The plastic bag industry was more than willing to work with Mid-Atlantic grocery store Wegmans. I feel as if I am shouting against the wind to try and get Newburyport to work with the “bad guys,” the plastic industry, to help us come up with a win-win solution here in Newburyport, because people for all sorts of reasons like their plastic bags, they just haven’t gotten the memo, (well, some have), what to do with them–i.e. return to sender, bring them back.
Editor’s Note: From Wegmans Food Market
ROCHESTER, NY – It’s not every day that one good turn earns double credit! But during April, customers who bring their clean, dry plastic bags to a Wegmans Food Market for recycling can feel good twice over: First, for recycling their bags, and second, for helping to increase the contribution Wegmans is making to an organization that’s a friend of the earth, The Nature Conservancy.
Last year in April, Wegmans customers recycled 177,000 pounds of plastic bags – the equivalent of about 11 million new bags. The company wanted to improve on last year’s record and came up with a plan to contribute at least $10,000 to The Nature Conservancy, the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect lands and water for nature and people. To inspire customers to scour closets, pantries and other storage areas for plastic bags to recycle, Wegmans pledged to contribute 50 cents to the Conservancy for every additional pound above last year’s total of 177,000 (with a minimum contribution of $10,000).
“Sustainability is a company-wide priority at Wegmans,” says Sustainability Coordinator Jason Wadsworth, “and the duty to protect air, land and water for people today and tomorrow belongs to all of us. We’re very proud of the steps we and our customers have already taken to reduce, reuse and recycle, but to keep moving in the right direction, we need to keep coming up with more and better ways to conserve these precious resources. It made sense to us to inspire customers to do their best too by working together on this recycling initiative.”
During April, signs near the recycling bins in the stores’ vestibules will remind customers to bring in their plastic bags for recycling, and Wegmans will track the total weight as the month goes by. In addition, on Saturday April 26 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the first 300 customers at every store who bring in a bunch of clean dry plastic bags will receive a coupon for a Wegmans reusable bag.
“The reusable bags come in lots of designs and colors, and they’re actually the best option from an environmental standpoint,” Wadsworth says.
Since some customers prefer plastic bags, however, Wegmans has also looked for ways to increase the amount of plastic that is recycled. In January, Wegmans introduced new plastic bags with the slogan “Return to Sender.” The bags are made with 40% recycled plastic. “It helps people to know we put their plastic shopping bags to good use after they bring them back to the store. Our supplier uses those recycled bags as raw material for brand new bags. Last year, together with our customers, Wegmans recycled a total of 3.6 million pounds of plastic bags and wrapping.”
Today, every Wegmans store now uses on average 4,000 fewer plastic carry-out bags per day compared with 2007, the year Wegmans introduced reusable bags and began reformulating its carry-out plastic bags. That’s 120 million fewer bags each year.
To read please see link here.
I really like the idea of a single use plastic bag recycling slurping machine. (Please see earlier entry here.)
First of all, the plastic bag industry has a huge PR problem on their hands. The sustainable bag folks are right, plastic bags are wandering around not only our local environment, but all over the place. And the approach at the moment is to ban them outright, which causes all kinds of friction in communities, all over North America.
And it’s time that the plastic bag folks worked with environmentalists instead of against them, because for the plastic bag industry it comes down to keeping your product which equals = $$ money.
For example, If you had a recycling machine that slurped plastic bags (without slurping in little hands that might feed them) for either a small amount of money, or maybe something like points that could be redeemed for money, you could be a hero to young mothers and fathers everywhere. What little child wouldn’t be mesmerized by machine that slurps plastic bags.
If a young mother or father who needs to go to the grocery store, and young Emma or Aiden is tired and cranky and doesn’t want to go to the grocery store, the young parent can say, “Honey, if we go to the slurping plastic bag machine first, will you help mommy or daddy go grocery shopping, and then we can use the rest of the plastic bags at the slurping machine when we’re done.” It might be a real incentive to a) recycle plastic bags and b) go cooperate with their parents at the grocery store. You, plastic bag company, become a hero.
On one of those horrible rainy days when kids are stuck inside, a trip to your local supermarket or wherever, where young kids can feed in plastic bags to the plastic bag recycling slurping machine, could be a real godsend for something fun + practical to do. Been in those parents shoes, know what it’s like.
And if little Emma or Aiden can make some money to boot, they are going to be begging their neighbors, their Nana for their plastic bags to take to this fun plastic bag slurping recycling machine. Pretty soon, Emma and Aiden, whether they are environmentalists or not, learn about recycling because it’s fun, and they get lots of positive feedback from helping people as well.
Schools could have fundraisers using the plastic bag recycling slurping machine, make a little money, and learn how to help the environment while they are doing it. And you plastic bag industry look great.
The plastic bag recycling slurping machine wouldn’t be good just for Newburyport, it would be good for everyone all over the world. The plastic bag folks could then help solve a world wide problem, and be heroes instead of the goat.
This also assumes that people know loud and clear where to take those single use plastic bags. Having great big huge “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” logos on plastic bags, and exactly where to return them, would be real easy to legislate (much easier than an outright ban). And plastic bag industry, why not beat the government to the punch, and do that yourselves. Again, you would be heroes, instead of the people known for causing a major environmental problem.
Look, not only do I get that plastic bags are detrimental to our wetland and coastal areas, I agree with it. However, instead of an outright ban, I’d like a reasonable and practical effort to minimize the use of single use plastic bags. And I understand that Market Basket has been unresponsive to this issue (and the single use plastic bag industry must be as well, since their “recycle and reuse” logo is so tiny, you can hardly see it), and I hope that the proposed ban forces Market Basket to have a meaningful dialogue with the city council and residents about how to solve this issue.
And this is what I don’t understand. First of all, it would be a giant PR move for both the single use plastic bag industry and the supermarket industry if they put big, huge colorful “reduce, recycle, reuse” logos on their plastic bags, with where to recycle them (i.e. at Market Basket or Shaws) in big bold letters, instead of in fine print at the bottom. Both industries would be heroes instead of goats. Seems like a pretty good idea to me. If both those businesses/industries did that, we might not be having this local fight over plastic bags, that we are having now, and they would help the environment all over the place. This would be a good thing.
The other thing is, that if I was an inventor, or if I was the plastic bag industry, I’d find me an inventor, to have a fun way to recycle the plastic bags once they got to the supermarket. If I was an inventor, I’d invent a machine that slurped the plastic bags in one at a time and gave a penny for each plastic bag, or a penny for 5 plastic bags (whatever is economical and fair). First of all, little kids (or even grown-ups) would be mesmerized by a machine that slurped plastic bags.
And when you could first get money for returning cans, people were scouring all over the place, cities, suburbs, to find cans to make some extra money. If you had a fun machine that slurped plastic bags AND got a little dough in the process, I bet the same thing would happen, and I bet you would have a whole lot less single use plastic bags wandering around our environment, and I bet they’d be reduced in a major, major way, pretty quick. It would be a huge PR win for the plastic bag industry, and they wouldn’t be so vilified and it would be fun to boot. And it would be a good thing for the plastic bag industry to work with environmentalists to help solve problems for a win-win solution.
The Newburyport City Council meeting, the Council of a Whole, to discuss the proposed Ban the Plastic Bag Ordinance, is taking place Tuesday April 1, 2014 at 7PM at City Hall. This is where the public can express their opinions, and legally the members of the City Council can talk about the proposed ordinance together.
The Neighborhood & City Services/License & Permits Committee of Whole
April 1, 2014 – 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Agenda: Thin film plastic bag ordinance
Newburyport City Hall
60 Pleasant St
Newburyport, MA 01950
If you would like to contact the City Councilors and Cc Mayor Donna Holaday, the contact information is below.
Thomas O’Brien – President and Ward 6
Allison Heartquist – Ward 1
Jared Eigerman – Ward 2
Robert Cronin – Ward 3
Charles Tontar – Ward 4
Larry Giunta – Ward 5
Ed Cameron – Councilor At-Large
Barry Connell – Councilor At-Large
Ari Herzog – Councilor At-Large
Meghan Kinsey – Councilor At-Large
Bruce Vogel – Councilor At-Large
Cc Mayor Donna Holaday
Detailed contact information with addresses and phone numbers for the 11 city councilors can be found here.