Category Archives: Environment

Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, the NRA’s New Plan

A friend and I were talking yesterday, and they asked me what did I think of the new NRA’s proposal for Newburyport’s waterfront.

And I said, “I don’t know.”

And they said, “I don’t know.”

We’ve both lived in Newburyport for over 30 years and watched the ongoing NRA waterfront saga.

We both agreed that for the “Citizens for an Open Waterfront” (COWs as they have often been referred to over the many, many decades that this has gone on) having an open waterfront is a religion.  And there are many, many folks in town that I know, like and respect very much, that feel fervently that nothing ever should be built on that piece of property.

Mayor Holaday was elected some 3 years ago over James Shanley in part because she was for an “Open Waterfront.”  She won, and I thought at the time, Ok we can finally get on with that idea.

But the “new” idea proposed by then candidate James Shanley (now chair of the NRA, appointed by governor Deval Partrick), of having limited building on the NRA parcel to pay for the open space has gained, yup, traction.

I got out the old photo I have courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, or as it’s known in Newburyport as “The HIST,” of the NRA lots, c 1920, way before Newburyport’s Urban Renewal took place (click image below to enlarge), and there is no open space at all in what once existed before the bulldozers came in the late 1960s.

NRA land c. 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, press to enlarge.

NRA land c. 1920, courtesy of the Historical Society of Old Newbury, press image to enlarge.

And my friend and I compared it to the new proposal by the NRA (click image below to enlarge), and we both agreed that there was a fair amount of open space, and that it looked reasonable.

NRA plans, 2012, courtesy of the NRA, press image to enlarge.

NRA plans, 2012, courtesy of the NRA, press image to enlarge.

NRA plans, 2012, courtesy of the NRA, press image to enlarge.

NRA site plan, aerial view, courtesy of the NRA. Press image to enlarge.

NRA site plan, aerial view, courtesy of the NRA. Press image to enlarge.

NRA site plan, aerial view, courtesy of the NRA, press image to enlarge.

I guess the question now is, “What is considered open space on Newburyport’s waterfront’s NRA lots?”  Lots and lots of open space, or open space, but less open space, with a plan to pay for it (and a park would be wicked expensive).

And for me, will this NRA saga finally be resolved, which I would like a lot, or will it never be resolved in my lifetime, and continue to be a Newburyport political third rail? Hang on to your hats, we’ll find out.

A couple of more images, courtesy of the NRA, for clarification:

NRA lots, aerial view, courtesy of the NRA, press image to enlarge

NRA lots, aerial view, courtesy of the NRA, press image to enlarge

An aerial view of the NRA lots as they are today, courtesy of the NRA. Press image to enlarge.

Boundaries of the NRA land, courtesy of the NRA. Press image to enlarge.

Boundaries of the NRA land, courtesy of the NRA. Press image to enlarge.

Delineation of the property boundaries, of the NRA, the Waterfront Trust and the Ways to the Water as well as an approximate low water mark.  Courtesy of the NRA, press image to enlarge.

To see the entire presentation of the new plans for the NRA lots, given at the Firehouse on September 12, 2012, press here (takes a while to load).

George is Grinning and Orren Fox



George is grinning, huge wide smile, and those of you who have been readers of the Newburyport Blog for any length of time know that George is usually a glum sort of fellow, even with his passionate romance to Georgiana Tadpole (if you really would like to know about any of this frog stuff please press here).

Instead of telling the readers of the Newburyport Blog what is making George smile so hugely right off the bat (although he’s not smiling in the picture, I couldn’t get one of him smiling), I’m going to start at the beginning.

Way, way back (“in the day,” I’m not sure if it’s that far back) in 1990 I painted a whole bunch of paintings for a major New York show, oil on panel, and the panels warped (I used the wrong kind of panel – never did it again).  Panic city, you betcha.  I went to what was then Wendover Woodworks on Liberty Street in Newburyport, and one of the owners, Andy Willemsem saved my sorry soul by making some absolutely gorgeous frames that solved the warping problem and saved yours truly.  It was then I met Andy’s partner in this wonder furniture creating place, Henry Fox.

About 15 years ago, wandering around my Newburyport neighborhood, I ran into Henry Fox, who told me the harrowing tale of his son, born 3 months early with a host of medical problems who had been saved by the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at MassGeneral in Boston, and had just been moved to one of the more local hospitals.  I later shared this story with other families who had critically ill new borns, including my most wonderful neighbors, who found themselves and their newborn son also at MassGeneral. (The young man is now happily running around our neighborhood.)

Andy Willemsen moved on and Henry Fox named his wonderful furniture business after his two sons, “Fox Brothers.” (Still there on Liberty Street in Newburyport, still amazing.)

Fast forward to 2012, yesterday, a “new” or “new” to me, George and I being 5 years late to the story (not quite as bad as my late arrival to the David Sedaris planet, see earlier post, but not so good)  local Newburyport blog called “Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs,” by a fifteen year old young man called Orren Fox.

I’m thinking Fox?? Fox?? Henry Fox?? The timing’s right.

And sure enough this blog is written by Henry’s son Orren, the one in intensive care 15 years ago.  How cool is that, but it gets so much better.

Scrolling down the blog’s sidebar the young man has been interviewed/written up by the Huffington Post, NPR, Yankee Magazine, the Boston Globe to name a few, and has been to the White House, March 7, 2012,  for “Know Your Farmer Event.”

I’m beginning to join George in grinning from ear to ear about this young chicken farmer and organic food activist.

“Margaret Mead would have loved Orren.  A soulful and gifted young man who has done more to help make a positive impact by 15 than most folks do in a lifetime.” From Do Lectures.

And Orren has added bees, in “Bee Happy” – check it out here.

AND Orren has serendipitly gone into business with his brother Will (with a little help from Dad) making “FoxBoys” longboards, skateboards in the most glorious shape, a little like a boat, read and see all about them here.

And Orren Fox is so media savvy as to make grown “social media” folks weep – along with the Happy Chickens blog there are the Facebook pages that one actually enjoys looking at and reading, and twitter accounts.  But it may be in the blood because his Mom, who gave birth to him all those many 15 years ago, is Libby Delana, the founding partner of Newburyport’s Mechanica, the next generation branding firm.

So if you are discouraged by the news or local or federal politics, life in general, go investigate Orren Fox, a young man who transcends the sustainable movement.  It doesn’t matter if you are dark “green,” light “green,” in-between or orange; right wing, left wing, moderate or independent.  When you read about this fantastic story, you like George, will be grinning from ear to ear and doing a dance in the end zone of your choice.

Kathleen O’Connor Ives Running for State Senate

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

On September 4, 2007, I met then candidate for Newburyport City Council at Large, Kathleen O’Connor Ives (Katy).

I found Katy to be delightful, smart, gutsy and energetic, someone who could be a real asset to Newburyport. But being a newcomer to Newburyport, I really and truly did not think she had a prayer in the upcoming elections.

It’s pretty gutsy to come into town and decide to get that involved in your new place of residence–to run for Newburyport City Councilor at Large.

And that she most probably didn’t stand a chance, but was running anyway, and against some pretty steep competition–a very accomplished incumbent and two former mayors no less.

That said a whole lot about Katy Ives.

And as I walked and talked around Newburyport, what I found was that everyone, once they had met Kathleen O’Connor Ives, wanted to see her on the Newburyport City Council (really, I’m not kidding).

And that’s no small accomplishment.

At first it was the more progressive folks and centrist folks that seemed to take a shine to Ms. Ives.

However, when I started to talk to more conservative folks, they had the same reaction. They liked her too.

And somehow Katy was overcoming the old Yankee suspicion about anyone “new,” combined with the old Yankee attitude of “you pay your dues.”

And Katy proved me wrong. She won. And Kathleen O’Connor Ives has turned out to be the Newburyport Councilor at Large everyone hoped she would be, winning two more terms handily for Newburyport City Councilor at Large.

Sound familiar.

Yup, Kathleen O’Connor Ives is now running for Massachusetts State Senate for the First Essex District. And as one of her supporters said, “In an old boy, old boy world, Katy may not be the most connected candidate, but she’s the smartest.”

And do not count Kathleen O’Connor Ives out in this election for Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday, September 6th. Once her voting constituency meets Katy Ives, they will have the same reaction that the people of Newburyport did in 2007, 2009 and 20011. And they will know she would be terrific as their state senator, and they will vote for Kathleen O’Connor Ives on Thursday, September 6, 2012.

Kathleen O'Conner Ives for State Senate

Kathleen O'Connor Ives for State Senate

Katy’s website can be found here.

Katy’s Facebook page can be found here.

Newburyport Rail Trail, Phase 2, Public Meeting and Maps

On Thursday June 28th, 2012 at 7:00 p.m., there will be a public informational meeting in the Firehouse Center for the Arts theatre for Phase 2 of the Clipper City Rail Trail and Harborwalk project.  This is the part of the Newburyport Rail Trail that will go through the South End of Newburyport.

Here are 3 maps courtesy of the Newburyport Planning Office.

Rail Trail map 1, press to enlarge

Rail Trail map 1, press to enlarge

Rail Trail map 2, press to enlarge

Rail Trail map 2, press to enlarge

Rail Trail map 3, press to enlarge

Rail Trail map 3, press to enlarge

For more information on this second phase of the rail trail and to see larger version of the maps go to the City of Newburyport’s website here.

And for more information or questions Geordie Vining, in the Newburyport Planning Office, is the project manager for Phase 2 of Newburyport’s Rail Trail.

They did it

Green Theatre Collective at Sylvester Manor, Shelter Island, NY, Season 2011, As You LIke It (press image to enlarge).

Green Theatre Collective at Sylvester Manor, Shelter Island, NY, As You LIke It (press image to enlarge).

They did it. Green Theatre Collective (GTC) raised $10,000 in 4 weeks.  Oh me of little faith.  And that means that this eco-theater company with its roots (pun intended) in Newburyport, can gather the just plain old lovely young men and women who made up the company last year, and go for it again this year, this time with Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, The Tempest.

And GTC had its maiden voyage right here in Newburyport, Massachusetts, sponsored by Theater in the Open, in a gorgeous setting for Shakespeare’s As You Like It at Maudslay State Park last summer.  With a big thank you for a plug by Tom Salemi  at Newburyport Posts and JC Lockwood at Newbuyrport Arts, along with the Newburyport Daily News and the Newburyport Current.

Ok, its personal. The GTC founder and Executive Producer is my son, Hal Fickett, who got his education right here in Newburyport, Massachusetts (yes, we do have great schools that are most worthy of our support).  And the first performance was dedicated to most beloved Newburyport High School theater teacher, Suzanne Bryan and all Newburyport educators (those graduates do appreciate you folks!).

Am I proud and excited for this young eco-theater company.  You betcha!

Green Theatre Collective at Maudslay State Park, Newburyport, MA, Season 2011 (press image to enlarge).

Green Theatre Collective at Maudslay State Park, Newburyport, MA, As You Like It (press image to enlarge).

Marsh Painting by Heade, Sudden Showers

Martin Johnson Heade Sudden Showers, Newbury Marshes, c 1865-1875

Martin Johnson Heade Sudden Showers, Newbury Marshes, c 1865-1875

Martin Johnson Heade, “Sudden Showers, Newbury Marshes,” c 1865-1875, Oil on Canvas, 13.25″ x  26.31,” Courtesy of the Yale University Art Gallery, Yale University, New Haven, Conn. (Press image to enlarge.)

Another amazing painting of the Newbury marshes by Martin Johnson Heade, thanks to Wikipedia (see previous post). The image is in the public domain.

I‘ve spent decades painting the marshes around Newburyport, and Heade is one of my all time favorites artists.  And this reminds me of the marshes along Rt 1A between Newburyport and Rowley.  A real treat for the Newburyport Blog.

A Martin Johnson Heade Painting of the Marshes


Sunlight and Shadow: The Newbury Marshes (c. 1871-1875), Martin Johnson Heade

Sunlight and Shadow: The Newbury Marshes (c. 1871-1875), Martin Johnson Heade, Oil on canvas, Size: 12″ x 26.5″ John Wilmerding Collection (The National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.)  Press image to enlarge.

How gorgeous is this painting by Martin Johnson Heade, who did a number of paintings of our local marshes.  This is via Wikipedia, so the image must be in the public domain, and I don’t think I was aware of this painting either (see earlier post).

People end up on the Newburyport Blog all the time looking for pictures and photographs of Newburyport.  And it is always so much fun to find another extraordinary image of this beautiful place.

Painting of the Newburyport Marshes by Alfred Bricher

"Hunter in the Meadows of Old Newburyport, Massachusetts" by Alfred Thompson Bircher

"Hunter in the Meadows of Old Newburyport, Massachusetts" by Alfred Thompson Bricher, click to enlarge

(If you click on the painting by Bricher, the image will enlarge)

I have never seen this gorgeous painting of a “Hunter in the Meadows of Old Newburyport, Massachusetts,” by Alfred Thompson Bricher c. 1873.  It’s oil on Canvas, 22″ x 44″ and the image is courtesy of  Wikipedia, and is now apparently in the public domain.  What a treat.

“The scene appears to be in the vicinity of the Little River. Route 1 offered the major overlook easily accessible to artists. In the far right can be seen the ridge of the right bank of the Merrimack over which High Street runs. Cattle have been turned into the marsh for pasture, a practice still allowed on some marsh farms of the area.”

The John Birch Society Comes to Newburyport City Hall

Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron has put up a blog post “Bringing Craziness to the Local Level,” where he quotes an article in the New York Times, February 4, 2012, “Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot,” the whole article can be read here.

“Across the country, activists with ties to the Tea Party are railing against all sorts of local and state efforts to control sprawl and conserve energy. They brand government action for things like expanding public transportation routes and preserving open space as part of a United Nations-led conspiracy to deny property rights and herd citizens toward cities.

They are showing up at planning meetings to denounce bike lanes on public streets and smart meters on home appliances — efforts they equate to a big-government blueprint against individual rights.”

Councilor Cameron points out that this has arrived at the local level.  Mr. Cameron points out that this was posted on Bill Hudak’s website:

“January 12, 2012 7:00pm – 9:00pm

Join Bill (Hudak) at the Newburyport RTC Meeting at Stripers in Salisbury for an important information meeting regarding Agenda 21.

Local Agenda 21: Coming to Your Neighborhood.
An information session on Agenda 21 by leading expert, Hal Shurtleff (a member of the John Birch Society).
Thursday , Jan. 12, 2012 at 7:30 PM
Stripers Grille Restaurant Function Room
175 Bridge Road, Salisbury. MA 01952

Agenda 21 has infiltrated Newburyport as well as hundreds of other towns. Elected Mayors and town officials are solicited and encouragement (often with taxpayer funded grants) to participate in the many Agenda 21 programs. These programs often come to a city with nice names like The Green Communities Act, Sustainable Development, and ICLEI. They result in mandates like stretch building codes and the mentality that accepts powerful local historic districts (LHD). These organizations appear locally driven, but they represent the coordination of local governments by global entities and the U.N. with social engineering as a true objective.”

The whole thing can be read here.

It was also posted on our local RNC site here.

The John Birch Society comes to Newburyport City Hall, press the link to YouTube here

The John Birch Society comes to Newburyport City Hall, YouTube link

And Hal Shurtleff, a member of the John Birch Society, has also visited Newburyport City Hall, which you can see on YouTube here.

Editor’s Note: It appears that “Stop Un Agenda 21! Stop ICLEI!”  has put a link to this post on their Facebook page.  Just to let you know, I agree with Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron, in his post “Bringing Craziness to the Local Level.”  For me trying to link things like historic preservation, a Local Historic District (LHD), Smart Growth and Green initiatives to a U.N plot with social engineering as its objective, is “crazy.”  And to quote a reader of the Newburyport Blog, ” ‘The John Birch Society Comes to Newburyport City Hall’ (yours and Ed’s blogs) has to be one of the scariest things I have read in a long time….what is going on out there?”

And another reader of the Newburyport Blog, “I’m sorry, the irony of you being mistaken for a Bircher is somewhat hilarious :)”

Wording In the Newburyport LHD Ordinance That Would Protect High Street

In 1999 MassHighway almost destroyed High Street (see earlier post here).

I am beyond thrilled.  The Newburyport Local Historic District (LHD) Study Committee has voted to include wording in the proposed draft ordinance to protect High Street, the actual roadway,  if a federal or state grant funding project, to take care of  High Street, ever triggers “major alterations,” the way it did in 1999. It took an exhausting  city wide effort, to stop MassHighway from destroying High Street back in 1999, which would have effected everyone’s property values, especially the houses on High Street. We as a city would never have to go through what we went through in 1999!!

Here is the draft wording that would go in the draft of the proposed LHD ordinance:

Draft language for section of Newburyport Historic District Ordinance


6.7: If a “Major Alteration” is proposed for the public way of High Street, the Commission shall provide design review, consultation, and recommendations during the planning, preliminary design, final design, and construction stages.  While the Commission will not have the authority to grant or deny a permit for such a project, any municipal or state proponent of such a Major Alteration project is required to notify and work with the Commission from the earliest planning stages of the project.  “Major Alterations” are defined as changes to the curb-line, width, and alignment of High Street; the removal of ten or more street trees as part of a single project unless they are designated as hazard trees by the Tree Warden; the removal of a hundred or more linear feet of brick sidewalk and replacement with another material as part of a single project; and the installation of ten or more new signs as part of a single project, and other such alterations of similar magnitude and impact. Paving, striping, utility work within the existing road footprint, sidewalk repair, re-setting curbs in existing alignment, incremental signage alterations, street tree pruning, and other such maintenance and alterations are not defined as “Major Alterations” and will not require the level of consultation and review anticipated by this ordinance.  The purpose of such review, consultation, and monitoring by the Commission will be to broadly maintain and restore the distinctive historic character and alignment of High Street while balancing contemporary vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle transportation and safety needs as well as universal access requirements.

Moving an Old House

I remember when I saw the large new house go in on High Road in Newbury, (that joins 2 big parcels) at the corner of Little’s Lane and thinking to myself “Ut-oh.”  Thinking it’s too butt close to that old house near the Spencer-Pierce-LIttle Farm, and I bet, I thought to myself, someone, somewhere down the line is going to want to take it down, i.e. demolish that old house.

And it appears that the new owners of 1 Little’s Lane who now own both houses, bottom line, want it way far away from their property, whether it’s adios demolished it, or adios move it.

So I was curious what Historic New England’s policy was on moving old houses, since that’s who owns the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm and who the owner says that they offered it to. I found this on their website.

“To those eager to redevelop the site of an old house, moving seems the fastest way to free up the parcel without appearing unreasonable or insensitive to the history and character of the existing building. But to preservationists, extracting a building from the site where it was built is troubling on many levels. Moving a house off site divorces it from the many material and cultural associations that are intrinsic to its history: its ownership sequence, topographic and historical setting, even the archaeological evidence buried in and around its site, all contribute to the authenticity, the “real-ness,” of the building. Moving can trivialize a building, turning it into an artifact, or souvenir. Normally, relocation also requires destroying elements that are too fragile, deteriorated, or bulky to move with the building.”

You can read the whole thing here.

For Newburyport’s LHD, Conspiracy Theories Just Don’t Fit

I totally agree with the P.Preservationist.  When it comes to advocating for Newburyport’s Local Historic District (LHD) one cannot have a rational back and forth discussion with folks who bring in an expert from the John Birch Society, to explain a conspiracy theory about the United Nations (UN) hatching a social engineering plot about lowering the standard of living for all Americans, and linking that to historic preservation and a proposed Local Historic District in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  (I am not making this up, see previous post.)

Newburyport, Creepy is Us

It would be hard to make this stuff up. It appears that this is being fairly aggressively advanced by our own Newburyport Republican Committee.

An information session on Agenda 21 by leading expert, Hal Shurtleff (who is a member of the John Birch Society).

“Join Bill (Hudak) at the Newburyport RTC (Republican Town Committee) Meeting at Stripers (January 12, 2012 7:00pm – 9:00pm)  in Salisbury for an important information meeting regarding Agenda 21.

Throughout our Country, in MA, and right now in Newburyport, the rights of homeowners are under attack with increased momentum. This is not a coincidence. Please read below to learn about the factors that result in fewer property rights for families across America.

Agenda 21 has infiltrated Newburyport as well as hundreds of other towns. Elected Mayors and town officials are solicited and encouragement (often with taxpayer funded grants) to participate in the many Agenda 21 programs. These programs often come to a city with nice names like The Green Communities Act, Sustainable Development, and ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability). They result in mandates like stretch building codes and the mentality that accepts powerful local historic districts (my emphasis). These organizations appear locally driven, but they represent the coordination of local governments by global entities and the U.N. with social engineering as a true objective.

Mayors and city legislatures may not comprehend what they are endorsing when committing a city to an Agenda 21 Program. Regardless of the specific Agenda 21 program, citizens soon realize their choices become limited, homeowner rights are restricted, and they lose economic progress in their city.” The quote can be read here.

It would be hard for me to believe that any Democrat in my city of Newburyport would feel this way. The Republican website (Bill Hudak for US Congress) points to a website written by Rosa Koire for more information. Rosa Koire has also written exactly the same thing on another website.

“In a nutshell, the plan calls for governments to take control of all land use and not leave any of the decision making in the hands of private property owners.  It is assumed that people are not good stewards of their land and the government will do a better job if they are in control.  Individual rights in general are to give way to the needs of communities as determined by the governing body.  Moreover, people should be rounded up off the land and packed into human settlements, or islands of human habitation, close to employment centers and transportation.  Another program, called the Wildlands Project spells out how most of the land is to be set aside for non-humans.

U.N. Agenda 21 cites the affluence of Americans as being a major problem which needs to be corrected.  It calls for lowering the standard of living for Americans so that the people in poorer countries will have more, a redistribution of wealth.”

And this is being used as a way to fight against the proposed Local Historic District in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

For me this is beyond a “good grief.”

Editor’s note:  New York Times article, February 4, 1012, “Activists Fight Green Projects, Seeing U.N. Plot,” here.

Service, Helping and Fixing

I looked back at my blog and I came across a post about “Service, Fixing and Helping.”

It was lessons from my father, who taught me about the gift of “service,” which is different than “fixing” and “helping.”  In “helping” and “fixing” one could often see individuals and institutions as being weaker than oneself, and people could feel diminished.

My father taught me that “service” honors life, and the wholeness and holiness of life.

The feeling that I get about Newburyport’s  proposed Local Historic District (LHD), is that some people seem to feel “diminished” by the prospect of “being told what to do” by some outside entity, i.e., a proposed Local Historic District Commission.

The way I see a Local Historic District for Newburyport, is that the LHD would be of “service” to our city.  The way a city or town looks from the outside reflects the internal spirit of the people who live there.  Historic homes and places remind one that we honor the people who have gone before us, and that what we do now lives on after us. That an historic place embodies a spirit of respect for the past, and responsibility for the present and for the future.

To embrace protecting the history of our city by enacting a Local Historic District, Newburyport would embrace ensuring that the spirit and soul of this place, that we all love so much, would endure to enrich and bless people’s lives now and in the future.

CVS and the Newburyport Blogosphere

I was massively confused about the zoning stuff and “proposed” CVS  at Low Street and Storey Avenue in Newburyport.  But my fellow bloggers and the Newburyport blogosphere to the rescue.

Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron with some clarification.  More clarification by Newburyport City Councilor Bob Cronin.  Further clarification by Newburyport City Councilor Ari Herzog.  Some very helpful maps by P.Preservationist.  And of course, Tom Salemi over at Newburyport Posts has been bloggging his heart out on this one all along.

Newburyport, High Street, Almost Destroyed in 1999

Readers of The Newburyport Blog have asked me what happened to High Street in 1999 that caused such alarm.

High Stree
What was once High Street between Summer Street and Winter Street
Courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center
 at the Newburyport Public Library

The City of Newburyport got a grant to fix up High Street. And in 1998 the Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway) came back with plans for High Street that met the “robotic” federal regulations for the roadway. It took a year to get people’s attention to the threat to the historic roadway. Finally in January 1999 people started to pay attention. “Citizens to Save High Street” was created (by yours truly), and on February 4, 1999 there was a huge meeting in Newburyport City Hall, standing room only, and the citizens of Newburyport demanded that the plan not take place.

These are the “Highlights” of the proposed plan in 1998 by MassHighway.

The Massachusetts Highway Department considered trees to be a “safety hazard” because they were too close to the road, consequently, the future of many of High Street’s trees were in question. (i.e. they were going to remove almost all of the trees.)

Close off of Ferry Road.

Completely reconfigure the “Three Road” area up at Atkinson Commons and put in a traffic light there.

Put a traffic light at Toppans Lane, by the Newburyport High School.

Remove 10 feet of land along the side of the Bartlett Mall facing High Street, that belonged to the City of Newburyport, to widen the roadway.

Remove land from private property owners, from the area between Fruit and State Streets along the “Ridge” side of the roadway, and put in retaining walls to make the street wider.

Make High Street as straight, narrow and uniform as possible from one end of the street to the other.

Remove plantings and all historical elements.

Remove the statue of George Washington by Pond Street and the Bartlett Mall. There was no plan to relocate the statue of George Washington. Pond Street was completely reconfigured to be one way.

A Local Historic District (LHD) would protect against destructive changes that could take place to our historic roadway.  We would never want to go through this experience again.

Newburyport Street Lights Could Stay ON and Save Energy

Bottom line–Newburyport’s street lights could stay ON and we could save mucho money and energy. One of those wonderful win-win situations in politics, that comes along every now and again, and is so amazingly wonderful.

Yup, this is from a blogger who has not been a fan of anything to do with messing around with street lights (vast understatement).

I was so skeptical of the new consultant being proposed by the Energy Advisory Committee (EAC), that I didn’t go to the meeting last week to see what he had to say. My loss, big time.

But I did talk to a whole lot of people that were there.

And, yup, this guy, Mr. George Woodbury, appears to be the real deal.

Newburyport City Councilor Bob Cronin, who appears to be dubious about consultants for Newburyport, had this to say about Mr. Woodbury on his blog.

“I don’t like consultants. I believe that in-house staff should be able to accomplish most tasks. I sat in on the Neighborhood and City Services and Public Utilities meeting. The proposed lighting consultant seems like the real deal, retired US Army Colonel (West Point grad), retired Lexington DPW Director and national expert on privatizing streetlights. The knowledge he imparted in the hour meeting was incredible. No one in-house could seemingly pick up the ball and run with it like he appears to be able to do. It would take years to learn what was in his head. He suggested he could reap a savings in the hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly while making us a greener community. He has locally worked or is working with Lowell, Lexington, Brockton, Acton, and Fitchburg to name a few, he travels nationally.”

As I understand it, the vote for hiring Mr. Woodbury would be on the City Council floor Monday February 28, 2011. And Katie Ives, the chair of the Public Utilities Committee, would explain in detail why this is such a good deal for the city of Newburyport, MA.

Newburyport Street Light Meeting

The Newburyport Council Public Safety Committee will be holding a street light meeting on this upcoming Wednesday:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010
City Hall Council Chambers

National Grid is invited. And the Energy Advisory Committee (EAC) has been invited to present their plan to shut off 501 street lights to the Newburyport City Council.

The chair of the Public Safety Committee, Bob Cronin, anticipates a presentation that includes maps as well as the criteria used in the EAC’s process.

There will be a general overview, without discussion of which particular lights would be shut off. That detailed discussion will happened at a later date, and will be scheduled by each of the 6 Newburyport Ward Councilors:

Ward 1 Allison Heartquist
Ward 2 Greg Earls
Ward 3 Bob Cronin
Ward 4 Ed Cameron
Ward 5 Brian Derrivan
Ward 6 Tom O’Brien

Newburyport City Councilors will be able to ask questions first, and then there will be a public input portion.

This is in effect a public hearing on shutting off Newburyport’s street lights.

Newburyport, Turning Off Street Lights–Constructive Alternatives

It appears to me that if the city does decide to turn off Newburyport Street lights, residents and citizens have choices.

One is a short term solution, and the second is a more longer term, creative and very exciting alternative.

The short term solution for residents and citizens would be, if they wanted to, to adopt or sponsor a street light. Initial information for adopting a street light can be read here.

A more long term solution would be to work with the Newburyport Planning Office, the Newburyport Historical Commission, architects, professional exterior urban lighting designers as well as environmental experts. The model for this solution would be Light Boston. The goal would to have a vibrantly and creatively lit night time downtown as well as creatively lit streetscapes that would also address environmental concerns.

Light Boston, the model for a long term solution, supports the passage of Dark Sky legislation, which among other things, addresses the issue of “light pollution.” Light Boston’s goal is to reduce energy consumption, eliminate high glare and spill light, promote energy conservation and enhance environmental quality of life. All of these things are also the goals of Newburyport’s Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC).

Light Boston has the enthusiastic backing of Mayor Thomas Menino. And their goals would address concerns of business, residents and citizens of Newburyport, making Newburyport an even better place to live work and play.

“Many architecturally and historically significant public and private buildings, numerous monuments and parks, and lively streetscapes help define the City of Boston. However, many downtown and neighborhood areas of the city lack urban legibility at night which diminishes residents’ and visitors’ enjoyment of the social and aesthetic quality of the city, creates safety concerns and inhibits economic vitality.

Light Boston is the leading organization in the city working to address this issue through imaginative, effective, and environmentally responsible exterior lighting. Exterior lighting can be used as an effective urban planning tool to:

  • Enhance social activity and economic growth by extending city life for residents and tourists into the evening and night
  • Improve the aesthetics and urban legibility of the city
  • Contribute to public safety
  • Highlight and complement Boston’s unique urban environment

By advocating for illumination as a vital component of urban design, Light Boston seeks to encourage interest, understanding, and appreciation of the city’s unique historic and cultural heritage.”

From Light Boston’s website.