Category Archives: Parking

The NRA is not a STD

NRA = Newburyport Redevelopment Authority
STD = Sexually transmitted disease

One of the first things that struck me when I first saw the “Save the Open Waterfront” signs around town, was the phrase, “Stop NRA.” Not “Stop the NRA,” but “Stop NRA,” as if the NRA was not a group of Newburyport residents, but instead something like a STD, a sexually transmitted disease. And maybe that was the point in the marketing strategy, I don’t know.

What I do know, is when I walked and talked to folks during what seemed a very, very long election, the Waterfront always came up, and when the NRA was mentioned, I would try to explain that the members of the NRA are real, actual caring, human beings, not weird, wired, automated machines, cyborgs. Sigh.

And the chair, Tom Salemi, has got to be one of the nicest, fairest, kindest human beings in town–not toxic waste. When I would get beyond the tactfully stated, on my part, “not toxic waste” thing, and tell people about Tom Salemi, they would relax a little, and say, “Really.”  And I’d say, “Really. Really and Truly.”

And judging from the article in the Newburyport Daily News, see earlier entry, it is really and truly true. The members of the NRA are not some uncaring monolith (a large and impersonal political, corporate, or social structure regarded as intractably indivisible and uniform), but people who care about this small New England City and the people who live in it.  Will everyone in Newburyport believe that, probably not, but “really and truly,” that is true.

Newburyport’s Waterfront, Resolved in my Lifetime?

I asked a friend of mine, who not only knows about such matters, but is also “wise” (a much overlooked character trait these days), about why, when the  history of the NRA (Newburyport Redevelopment Authority) land had been massively built on (lots of photos and maps to prove it), did the residents of Newburyport, no matter how long they had lived here, short time, long time, in-between time, seem so passionate about having it stay as an open waterfront.

Disclosure, I am one of the only people I know who likes, and will admit to liking, the proposal by the NRA and Union Studios for Newburyport’s Waterfront.  I was born and raised in Manhattan, NYC, I like tall buildings, I like tall buildings that lead to the mouth of large rivers (the Hudson River for example). As far as I can tell, when talking to people, I am in a minority of one.

What my very wise friend said, was that when buildings get demolished, people get very attached to the open space. Boston’s Greenway was given as an example.

And the residents of Newburyport are very attached to the wide open space called “The Waterfront” along the mighty Merrimac River in Newburyport, MA. When I would walk and talk to folks, what I heard from all sorts of folks is that they would rather have it just the way it is than have anything built on it at all. This is from folks who have lived here, a short time, a long time, an in-between time.

And this past 2013 election has been, in my mind, about a whole bunch of things. But I think it might well be the final “swan song” for anything ever being built on that land. Yes, maybe “it,” the Waterfront, has been resolved in my life time.  “Leave it open.” But, how to pay for it and maintain it, that has always been the question. And hopefully my “wise” friend might have some thoughts on that challenge, that puzzle, that head-scratcher, that perplexing conundrum.

The NRA Changes Direction on Newburyport’s Waterfront

From an article in today’s Newburyport Daily News, the entire article can be read here.

“The chairman of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority has indicated the organization is changing direction and will cooperate with elected officials and residents to envision a future for the 4.2 acres of land the NRA owns on the central waterfront.

“I met with the mayor this week,” said Tom Salemi, chairman of the five-member NRA during an interview with The Daily News. “We’ll definitely be working more closely with her and the city going forward.

“With the change in (city) councils, I’m going to suggest the NRA hold off on any developments regarding Union Studio’s project until the new year.”

The NRA met Wednesday night, and members indicated they were in accord with Salemi’s statements…

Salemi in recent weeks suggested that it would be difficult to pursue the Union Studio plan without the support of the mayor and city administration.

In the recent interview and in comments at the recent NRA meeting, he said the NRA wants to work with the mayor, councilors and residents.

“The mayor would like time to talk with the new council (and those returning) about their views on the waterfront,” said Salemi.

“Then once everyone is settled and up-to-speed, the city and the NRA will decide on a future course.” “

Newburyport 2013 Election Results

Mayor
Donna Holaday (incumbent)
Richard Sullivan Jr.

Winner:
Donna Holaday

Councilor At-Large
(5 Councilors At-Large)
Laurel Allgrove
Edward Cameron (incumbent)
Barry Connell (incumbent)
Ari Herzog (incumbent)
Meghan Kinsey
Lyndi Lanphear
Bruce Menin
Sheila Mullins
Bruce Vogel

Winners:
Edward Cameron
Barry Connell
Ari Herzog
Meghan Kinsey
Bruce Vogel

Ward 1 Councilor:
Michael Ferrick
Allison Heartquist (incumbent)

Winner:
Allison Heartquist

Ward 2 Councilor:
Jared Eigerman
Christopher Welch

Winner:
Jared Eigerman

Ward 3 Councilor:
Robert Cronin (incumbent)
Leslie Eckholdt

Winner:
Robert Cronin

Ward 4 Councilor:
Tom Jones (incumbent)
Charles Tontar

Winner:
Charles Tontar

Ward 5 Councilor:
Larry Giunta Jr.
Sean Reardon

Winner:
Larry Giunta Jr.

School Committee
(3 School Committee members)
Steven Cole (incumbent)
Daniel Koen (incumbent)
Michael Luekens
Raymond Matthews
Cheryl Sweeney (incumbent)

Winners:
Steven Cole
Michael Luekens
Cheryl Sweeney

Election Results 2013, press image to enlarge

Election Results Mayor and City Council 2013, press image to enlarge

Election results  for Mayor and City Council

Election 2013, School Committee (press image to enlarge)

Election 2013, School Committee (press image to enlarge)

Election results for School Committee

Congratulations to all who ran and to all who won.

Official numbers in for the top 5 Newburyport City Council At Large race (slightly different than last nights numbers, the winners are still the same).

Updated total:

Ed Cameron 2947
Barry Connell 2944
Ari Herzon 2893
Megan Kinsey 2856
Bruce Vogel 2526

Final results for Newburyport City Council At Large (press image to enlarge)

Final results for Newburyport City Council At Large (press image to enlarge)

Final total for Newburyport City Council At Large (last night’s results were “unofficial”).

Where to Vote Tuesday, November 5th 2013

Where to vote

Where to vote

There is  a very cool tool to find out where to vote in Newburyport, this Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

You just enter your street number, the street’s name, and your city or town, or your zip code, and voila, 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.

The people of Newburyport will be voting for a Mayor (a 4 year term, not a 2 year term), for 5 Newburyport City Council At-Large candidates, Newburyport City Council candidates in Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5, and 3 Newburyport School Committee members.

Voting hours are 7am to 8pm.

Be sure to vote.

I will most likely go down to City Hall at 8pm, and will post the election results on the Newburyport Blog and the Newburyport Blog’s Facebook page.

Here is a sample ballot for the Newburyport At-Large Candidates.

Newburyport At-Large Ballot

Newburyport At-Large Ballot

Newburyport Election 2013, Mayoral and Council Debates

On Tuesday November 5th, the residents of Newburyport will go to the polls to elect a Mayor (for a 4 year term, not a 2 year term), 5 Newburyport City Councilors At-Large, 5 Ward Councilors and 3 members of the School Committee.

Here are links to the Mayoral Debate between Mayor Donna Holaday and City Councilor Dick Sullivan on October 22, 2013 and the Newburyport City Council At-Large Debate on October 16, 2013.

The Mayoral Debate

The Mayoral Debate

The Mayoral Debate between Mayor Donna Holaday and City Councilor Dick Sullivan on October 22, 2013 can be watched here.

The Newburyport City Council At-Large Debate

The Newburyport City Council At-Large Debate

The Newburyport City Council At-Large Debate on October 16, 2013 can be seen here.

Not Qualified to be Mayor

As I recall, in the 2001 election, people voted for Al Lavender, as a reaction against Mayor Lisa Mead (not a “for” Al Lavender vote). I thought Lisa Mead was an incredibly competent mayor. And I feel that we are still recovering from the consequences of two years of Al Lavender’s tenure in the corner office (we are still cleaning up the landfill, which has caused untold misery–something that came out of Al Lavender’s two year term).

I would like a smart, well educated (more than a high school education), competent person, who can deal with an array of complex issues, in the corner office for the next four years, someone with a lot of executive experience (this is one complicated city to run) (a retired firefighter and a Home Depot greeter does not do it for me).

I think firefighters are incredible people, unbelievably brave, but with a skill set that, in my mind, does not translate into dealing with the incredibly complex issues that the Mayor of Newburyport deals with.

I would surely like to see the electorate vote with their intelligence, instead of reacting emotionally, and to see this not just as a one issue election (i.e. the Waterfront).

And I also think, given his resume, that if Dick Sullivan didn’t have the last name “Sullivan,” no one would take his candidacy seriously for being the CEO of this complicated city.

Comparison of the NRA Waterfront Plans

A comparison of the NRA Waterfront plans.

First Draft – September 2012, Second Draft – June 2013.

A comparison of the NRA Waterfront plans. (Press image to enlarge.)

A comparison of the NRA Waterfront plans. (Press image to enlarge.)

Citizens for an Open Waterfront’s (COW) alternative plan – April 2013 (flipped vertically so that it is easier to compare to the proposed NRA plan).

Citizen's for an Open Waterfront's (COW) alternative plan

Citizens for an Open Waterfront's (COW) alternative plan

Newburyport Carpetbaggers, the 95%

Carpetbagger

Carpetbagger

One Newburyport City Councilor (Dick Sullivan) got up in the Newburyport City Council chambers and lamented that all these “newcomers” were coming in and telling the folks who were born and raised here what to do.

Another Newburyport City Councilor (Tom Jones) got up (Thursday night) and said how Newburyport was a working class town, and seemed to intimate that it was still a working class town.  No it’s not. In the year 2012, Newburyport is an upper-middle class city, quickly approaching a upper class enclave – especially when Mr. Karp starts building.

Honey, it ain’t your father’s Newburyport anymore.

If you haven’t noticed the carpetbagger thing has really, really gotten out of hand lately.  You don’t just have the carpetbaggers who came in the first wave, in the mid to late 1970′s and very early 1980′s,  right after Urban Renewal renewed.  There was a wave in the late 1990′s after the MBTA came back to town. Remember that, a big housing spike when a lot of the old timers cashed in.  I remember folks saying  that it was a joke that anyone would want to live in Newburyport’s South End. There was a lot of bitterness about how high the taxes had gotten because of the housing boom, but that money bought more house not so far away, in a place where there weren’t so many doctors, lawyers and financial folks. Where the working class folks felt more comfortable.

And then the super duper influx around 2005, when Mr. Karp bought so much land and real-estate downtown.  Yup, and people have just kept coming, with more and more money, lots more money.  And the old-timers, the natives, they pay attention and they vote, but their numbers just ain’t what they used to be.  It’s not your father’s Newburyport by any stretch of the imagination, no how, no way, any more.

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).

Newburyport, We’ve Come a Long Way!

This is a film that about Newburyport made in 1975 that’s been around for a long time, but it’s the first time that I’ve seen it in video for the Web. It’s about the story of Newburyport’s Urban Renewal (and we have come a long, long way).  The film was made by Lawrence Rosenblum (Vision, Inc. and Urbanimage Corp.) and is called, “Newburyport: A Measure of Change” and the video runs about 30 minutes.

You’ll see lots of friends, Sue Little (Jabberwocky Bookstore), Tom Kolterjahn, John (Hacky) Pramberg (former president of the Institution for Savings) and others (all much younger)! It’s very cool!

Measure of Change-video about Newburyport's Urban Renewal

Link to Newburyport: A Measure of Change-video about Newburyport’s Urban Renewal

The link to Newburyport: A Measure of Change.

Newburyport, Parking Payment from the Blog of Bob Cronin

From Newburyport City Councilor Bob Cronin on paid parking and Newburyport’s Waterfront Trust and the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority contributing to the citizens of Newburyport, MA.

The email and post can be read on Newburyport City Councilor Bob Cronin’s blog here.

“Dear friends and neighbors,

While I usually use this space to give updates and pass along information about the goings on and happenings in Ward 3 and the City, I’m changing course here just a bit today. This entry is about parking, the waterfront and a brief civics primer.

The Mayor has submitted a series of parking regulations to govern parking in the downtown and adjoining neighborhoods, which will contain a resident piece. There will be ample opportunity for input into the process as it moves forward.

The issue at hand is that in the Mayor’s plan the key component of the plan is paid parking in the surface lots. This includes the Waterfront Trust (WFT) lot, the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA) lots and of course city owned lots. The Mayor is working to get agreements in place with these quasi-governmental entities that manage these parcels and feel they are completely autonomous. Newburyport, like most of the other 350 cities and towns in Massachusetts is cash strapped.

I for one think that budgets must be examined for waste but this tactic only goes so far. Historical sources of local aid relied upon for generations are now a mere trickle from state government. New revenue sources have to be identified and put to use locally. Being against user fees on required services such as “pay as you throw trash”, I believe Newburyport should look more to the discretionary income side of the ledger.

The Mayor’s current paid parking proposal is in the Public Safety committee and I for one will be pushing hard for a significant portion of the net proceeds to go back to ALL neighborhoods in the form of vastly needed sidewalk repairs. We the residents of Newburyport have borne the brunt of poor ankle twisting sidewalks for much too long. This money will come from people visiting our downtown, many from other communities that make Newburyport their destination. When we visit other cities don’t we pay for parking? For the most part the answer is yes. This source can and will greatly benefit our infrastructure at little or no cost to the average resident.

But there is a problem; the WFT and NRA have not yet signed on with our City to make Newburyport better as a whole community. Rather the WFT and NRA continue to stare inwardly at their small outposts. Twenty plus years and there has been glacial movement on the NRA properties. It is time for them, the NRA to partner with the City to raise much needed cash for their properties and the City as a whole. Ditto for the WFT. They currently have paid parking but no enforcement. The City will provide that manpower and enforcement once they sign on.

Both these groups have been in attendance to the Mayor’s parking committee meetings but they have yet to climb onboard; why? What are they afraid of? Losing a grip on their domains?

It is time for these groups to stop being provincial and shortsighted and see the big picture. By signing on to the overall plan, not only will they be helping their City they will also help the areas and interests they supposedly represent. The residents of Newburyport should not only hope these appointed boards can finally represent the entire community and not their self interest, residents should demand it.”

Newburyport, Paid Parking

What I sense as I walk around town, on the subject of paid parking for downtown Newburyport, is still a deep, conscious and unconscious resistance.

Not to the degree that the resistance to downtown Newburyport parking existed when it was proposed about 10 years ago, but it still runs deep.

And my father, who was a very astute man, I think would have said, that the resistance is not just about paid parking, but possibly that people might feel that they are “losing their town.”

I think he would be right.

And I asked Mayor Donna Holaday about this. Her response was, as I understand it, that, yes, there could well be a feeling of a loss of control.

But to make sure people feel that they are in control of their town, the mayor, as I understand it, is proposing, for a fee, and a hugely discounted fee for seniors, a sticker for residents that not only would provide free parking for Newburyport’s downtown, but also for Newburyport’s compost heap, and for parking on Newburyport’s Plum Island Point. And there would be something worked out for businesses and people who work downtown (specifics not asked by me) as well.

So I am very impressed by our mayor. It does not appear that Mayor Donna Holaday would like to mess with the people of Newburyport as far as downtown parking goes and torture them. It appears that her goal would be to give the people of Newburyport a Newburyport parking Christmas present instead.

Vote on the Senior Center

In my mind the stupidest vote by a Newburyport City Council came during the Lavender Administration concerning the parking garage downtown.

At that time there was a piece of property, right off Route 1, on Merrimac Street, right behind the police station on Green Street, called “Lombardi Oil.” The owner of the Lombardi Oil property offered the land to the city for “a song” (especially in 20/20, a real loud song).

There was 5 million dollars good to go from the State of Massachusetts to start the ball rolling. And the Newburyport Planning Office had come up with an amazing (what we now call “Smart Growth”) flexible plan, that included a very attractive street view. This was no ugly parking garage plan, believe you me. It was a complete “win,” not even a “win/win” situation. And the Newburyport City Council at that time, turned it down, I believe, by one vote.

As I remember it, the rational for some of those pivotal votes, was that the money should be used for a spanking new elementary school. That’s what the emphasis should be. And in 20/20 in 2006 and 2007 we know what a lousy visionary approach that turned out to be.

In December 2006, the community at large ranted against what then Newburyport City Councilor Audrey McCarthy referred to as the “Taj Mahal” approach to our elementary school building needs, as opposed to funding much needed basic education.

What was lost, way back there in the last part of the 20th Century, was a crucial moment that could have helped empower the downtown Newburyport economy. Yes, yikes.

And I’m wondering, if a similar lapse in judgment and vision is about to happen on the Newburyport City Council floor in regards to a vote for the location for the Newburyport Senior Center.

It looks like a vote for a Senior Center site at Cushing Park may go down the tubes. (Anyone reading the Newburyport Blog in the year 2008, knows how strongly I feel about having a Senior Center.)

And I am wondering whether in 5 years, whether we could look back, the same way we look back at the vote on the downtown parking garage, and think, “What folly.”

Stephen Karp’s Visit to Newburyport, MA

I wasn’t at Mr. Karp’s visit to Newburyport, MA (see previous post), and having read all the newspaper articles, blogs and having talked to any number for folks, and having put all of that in a stew in my brain, the following “stuff” has emerged.

It does appear that Mr. Karp did good. As Public Relations go, in fact, of all the many, many ways he could have conducted the evening, it was “brilliant.”

To meet folks in person before hand, I gotta tell you, A+. (Does this blogger feel a little bit arrogant giving a developer of Mr. Karp stature, grades that one receives in High School? Yup, she does.) Being the only one to address the audience, relaxed, joking, in shirt sleeves and taking questions–as my son would say, “classic.” Definitely good go’n Mr. Karp.

Stressing public input and public process, on the record no less, well, this blogger likes this big time.

However, there were a few, “wait a moment” moments for moi.

The stress on the city coming up with a solution to the parking issue.

My first thought was, well, we’ve been fighting over this since the automobile first made its appearance, good luck with that one. I guess nothing is ever going to get built on Waterfront West or East. As my mother would say “tant pis,” or French for “too bad.”

And then I thought, hmm, the best proposed location for a parking garage by far, in my opinion, had been on the Lomardi Oil site, on Merrimac Street, behind the Newburyport police station. The Newburyport Planning Office had come up with a pretty awesome design (it failed in the Newburyport City Council at the time by one vote–in hindsight, it appears to be an “oh dear”).

And Mr. Karp has mentioned that he would not be opposed to a public, private enterprise. So 2 great locations on Mr. Karp’s property. Around the Fitness Factory, but even better, a well designed garage right off of Route 1 where the land going down to Michael’s Harborside is, and where I gather the hotel-condominium is being proposed. I think that the citizens of Newburyport, MA might go for a parking garage on that site. I have a feeling however, that that might not give the bang for the buck that Mr. Karp could be looking for.

There was a “ding, ding, ding, ding” going off in my head, hearing that when the question was asked, who on the development team would be the contact person for the Newburyport public on this project, and that at that time, no one had been appointed.

And on the subject of affordable housing, it sounds as if Mr. Karp drew a blank, and our own Nancy Colbert (Newburyport’ Planning Director), came to his rescue.

On his blog, Newburyport According to X, Mr. Npbt X had some interesting observations about Mr. Karp’s audience. What can I say, I wasn’t there. An interesting read.

And it appears that the audience broke down into three separate groups: the “skeptical group,” the “cautiously optimistic group,” and the “can I KYA, leechy group.” All of which, I would imagine, in Mr. Karp’s long career, must seem all very, very familiar.

So welcome to Newburyport, Stephen Karp.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Resistance to Paid Parking

I am very pleased to have a new blog by a long time resident.

The blog is: MrXNbpt.wordpress.com.

One of the reasons that I am so please, is that there is now a voice on the Newburyport blogosphere that expresses what so many of the residents of Newburyport, MA would feel. And I think it would be very helpful for those in political office, in helping them to understand all of their constituents.

When the issue of “paid parking” came up, inwardly, I rolled my eyes. It may make fiscal sense, but if there is not the political will (and there certainly has been major opposition to the idea in the past), it could be a good idea for our local politicians, whether it would be the mayor or the Newburyport City Council, to take that viewpoint into consideration.

I remember when the issue of paid parking came up before. Someone from the community called me up and asked me what I thought. As I recall, my response was something like, “Honey, not in a million years are ‘they’ are going to go for that one. You can try, but dollars to donuts, it ain’t going to happen.”

It didn’t back then. And it would be my guess, that the concept of paid parking downtown, would have major opposition now, and my reply would be exactly the same.

However, as a “by the way,” the last time paid parking was addressed, the Newburyport Planning Office came up with an incredibly thoughtful and intelligent approach. And Geordie Vining of the Newburyport Planning Office, who could be involved in this present endeavor, to come up with a plan for paid parking, in my mind, is one of the people that I most trust in all of Newburyport, MA. We as a city, are incredibly lucky to have Geordie Vining, in the Newburyport Office of Planning and Development.

Mary Eaton, Newburyport

Senior Center, Where

This is where it becomes wretched. Where to have the Newburyport Senior Center?

Ed Cameron talks about this on his blog.

And I give Mayor John Moak great deal of credit for making a decision about where to locate the Senior Center, the choice being Cushing Park, a location Mr. Cameron also agrees with.

Some seniors have been actively lobbying for a Senior Center on the Central Waterfront (the NRA property).

Well, a hotel didn’t go there and neither did the Newburyport Library.

And to keep lobbying for the Senior Center to go on the Central Waterfront, could in my opinion, not only sabotage any hopes of a Senior Center ever being built, but also could sabotage any hope of the conundrum of the Central Waterfront (the NRA property) ever being resolved (and it looks like there might be a ray of hope that we could be close).

Is there a perfect place for a Senior Center? No. Otherwise we as a city might have agreed on a spot after all these many, many years.

And if a Senior Center is to actually happen, it would be my opinion that it could be time to get real realistic and do a little compromising on the part of those unhappy with the Cushing Park site.

And yes, I understand how threatening it would be for the neighbors of Cushing Park not to have all of that off-street parking during bad winter weather.

However, the same was true for the Catholic Church property on Federal Street where the 2 historic houses where rescued and the area built on (the Federal Street Overlay District).

That area was mostly used for off-street parking during lousy winter weather. What did all those neighbors do? I don’t know, but they sure did something. (And no one ever expected the Catholic Church to give that piece of land up for development.)

And yes, location is important for a Senior Center. However, what happens inside the Senior Center, the people who are there for the Senior Center and having a place to go for seniors, for me, trumps location.

It seems to me that Cushing Park is the best compromise that the city has yet to come up with for a Senior Center. And if you’ve been reading the Newburyport Blog lately, it would be my opinion, that we really need a Senior Center now.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

Messy Municipal Process

I’ve read (I think) a number of times in the Newburyport Daily News and at least once on Bruce Menin’s Blog that the electorate is impatient with the Newburyport School Committee and would like them to hurry up and make decisions.

As I recall, I have read these words or similar words, from “Yes for Newburyport” members (pro-override group for the Newburyport Schools).

And a number of “Yes for Newburyport” folks are running for Newburyport School Committee.

Unfortunately, running a municipality is a slow and messy business.

John Moak hoped to come in as Mayor of Newburyport, MA and clear up the Central Waterfront and parking issues ASAP, and what he found was, nope, not so easy to do.

In fact Mr. Moak’s opponent in the November 6th election, Jim Stiles, is a pro-waterfront, less-parking on the waterfront candidate. So much for easy, no hassle solutions.

And if one, some or all of the “Yes” folks get elected to the Newburyport School Committee, I imagine they would find that, yes indeed, this is not a CEO, let’s make a decision now sort of thing.

Having the honor of serving as an elected official is about public process and public input, which is almost always muddled and chaotic.

And if that public input could be short-changed, look out. Whatever decision was made, almost always backfires.

In fact, I hate to say it, but it’s almost always best to have too much public input than not enough, especially on hot-button issues.

And the since the special spring election for the override for the Newburyport schools, unfortunately, (in part, in my opinion, due to a hurried decision–an example of a quick decision backfiring big time) the Newburyport Schools have become a very polarizing issue in this small New England city.

So whoever wins the election for Newburyport School Committee would, I imagine, need to ask for the “Wisdom of Solomon,” because that, and public process, is what it is going to take to start to resolve the conundrum that is facing our Newburyport city schools.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport

(Editor’s note: The folks running for Newburyport School Committee for the election on November 6, 2007 are: Nicholas Dekanter, Scott Frisch, Tracey Hurst, Barbara McDonough, Bruce Menin, Stephanie Weaver.)

Newburyport, Fate of the Kelly School Building

Sorry folks, as far as I’m concerned Mayor John Moak appears to be learning on the job.

(But could this be taken as an endorsement of Mayor Moak by moi for the mayoral candidate for election 2007? No.)

The Kelly School building. A great emotional trigger for lots and lots of folks in Newburyport, MA. What do you do with it?

Mayor John Moak is forming a committee to help the Newburyport City Council make that incredibly difficult decision.

The make-up of the committee is not unlike the make-up of something like the Newburyport Local Historic District Study Committee.

So far the appointments have been Newburyport City Councilor James Shanley. Mr. Shanley is the chair of the Newburyport City Council Planning and Development Committee, and the Kelly School building is also in Mr. Shanley’s ward, Ward 3. James Shanley has always struck me as being a very thoughtful Newburyport City Councilor, so in my book, that’s a real good choice.

Newburyport Planning Director, Nancy Colbert is also on the committee. And Mayor John Moak also plans to include a local real estate agent, a parent of a former Kelly School student, as well as a member of the Newburyport Historical Commission. (Newburyport Daily News, June 26, 2007)

As far as I’m concerned, the fate of the Newburyport Kelly School Building is kind of a yikes, wisdom of Solomon thing. And this seems to be a very wise approach to an incredibly difficult community decision.

Mary Eaton
Newburyport