Category Archives: Parking

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, Political Timing

Since my involvement as an activist in the fight to save High Street, I’ve become aware that there appears to be a rhythm in public interest in any one particular issue. An ebb and flow if you will.

I can remember when High Street seemed to continually make the front page of the local media outlets. And then there would be a time, when no matter what people did, no one appeared to be interested in the issue at all.

But in its own time, the subject once again made front page news. The interest in the issue seemed to have a life of its own, and there appeared that there could be no way to control it.

This can be both puzzling and frustrating for someone who is advocating for a particular cause.

For the last few weeks the $1.58 million override for the Newburyport schools appears to have been the dominant topic. I would imagine that until the May 22, 2007 special spring election for the Newburyport schools takes place, the $1.58 million override would remain in the forefront of people’s minds. However, even that matter is beginning to faded somewhat from the collective consciousness.

The ordinance concerning the balance of chain stores and smaller entrepreneurial endeavors has appeared to have ignited local attention, at least for the time being.

People who are advocating to save the Wheelwright property have expressed their frustrations to me, that no matter what they might do, they are having very little success at the moment at getting people to pay attention to that issue at all.

I explain that it is all about timing. And part of good political activism is putting one’s ear to the ground and listening for the time when folks would once again be interested in a specific concern.

The same thing appears to apply to the question of a garage. Whether a garage for downtown may or may not be a good idea is almost moot. Folks simply do not seem to be interested in the subject. And since Mayor John Moak was elected in part because people did not want a garage, getting folks to pay attention to that particular matter is proving difficult.

Again it’s a matter of timing. Listening for the right moment. No amount of shouting from the roof tops would make the community listen, not if they are not inclined.

The Newburyport landfill is another example. A nightmare that has been going on for years that effects everyone one way or another in Newburyport, MA. The myriad of problems have not gone away, but the matter has peaks and valleys when it comes down to public attention.

The intricacies of politics have always intrigued me. And since I’ve been blogging, I have found that the nuances of political complexities are yet more intricate and even more fascinating.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, The Garage, The Central Waterfront

My friend, Jim Roy, has been after me to write a post about “the garage.” (He says enough with the frogs.)

The garage, the garage, the garage. Deja vu all over again. Or like “Groundhog Day,” the movie where the same thing keeps happening over and over again.

Ok, Newburyport, MA has been promised 5 million towards a garage by the Commonwealth of MA. And if Mr. Karp would like to cough up the other whatever million, and if the garage would go on the “Lombardi” property, which is owned by someone other than Mr. Karp, so Mr. Karp would have to buy it, and if the garage would have a similar plan to what was designed, lo those many years ago (which I always thought was a great design), I’m all for it.

The voters, the last time around voted for Mr. Moak, in part, because they didn’t want to pay tax payer dollars for a garage. But there doesn’t appear to be any chit chat here for tax payers paying for any garage.

Now the Lagasses (Ann Lagasse, who I remember, was on that “garage committee,” and a darned good committee it was too) weren’t going to pony up money (no Mr. Karp at that time) to co-author a garage on that spot (which in my mind is the only good spot for a garage). So why in the world would Mr. Karp?

Hope he does, I’d like it. I’d like it a lot.

The other thing I hear floating around, is no more Open Waterfront, but historically sensitive building on that Newburyport Redevelopment Authority property. Oy veh. Yet another idea. Here we go yet one more time.

Yes, let’s postpone this whole Waterfront shebang another 50 maybe another 100 years. It can only add to the Waterfront Saga.

And I’m excited about the designs coming in for an open Central Waterfront. Although, I recall, this has already been done before.

It was after Mr. Foster was finally defeated that I remember a design for those dirt parking lots in the front hall of Newburyport City Hall. Deja vu all over again.

Why are we so passionate about this last piece of Newburyport Redevelopment land? It’s as if we can’t let go of that last little bit.

So, I’m not putting any bets anywhere on this one. And I still don’t think that the Waterfront Opus is going to be resolved in my lifetime. Although, of course, I’d like it a lot if it actually was.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, The Waterfront

Is anyone who has been following the riveting Central Waterfront ongoing saga now surprised that Mayor John Moak did not reappoint Janet Marcus, the current chair of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority?

Well, I gotta tell you, I’m not.

No big surprise here. Mayor John Moak has been upfront and center about his wish to have LOTS of parking on Newburyport’s Central Waterfront, and there was some disagreement on this one on Ms Marcus’s part. (Is this an understatement? Yes.)

And should Patricia Dorfman, the former Executive Director of the Customs House Maritime Museum as an appointee be a huge surprise? I don’t think so.

Ms Dorfman has stated her understanding for parking in regards to the Customs House Maritime Museum, and perhaps Mr. Moak is hoping for a receptive ear.

My experience is that Ms Dorfman is a very bright young lady. And it is also my experience with very bright young ladies is that they are not always as predictable as one might expect. Don’t put any money down on this one yet, folks. I’m not.

And my experience is that Ms Dorfman is very personable and easy to get along with. This seems to be a prerequisite when it comes to Moakian appointments. Is this a terrible, terrible character flaw? In my book there are a whole lot worse, let me tell you.

Ok, so let’s say that this the worse case scenario happens. All Mayor Moak’s appointments turn out to share and vote for his very focused goal of having LOTS of parking on the Central Waterfront and NOT paying any attention to the people’s wishes in 2 surveys of having half park and half parking.

What Mayor John Moak does not appear to grasp yet, is if the “all-parking” thing actually got voted on, it would be litigated in the courts for years.

Legally the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will not allow it. And forget about the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, war chests in Newburyport, MA are most probably already being stocked for this very possible conclusion.

My money is on Ms Dorfman being fair and balanced. But whether she would be fair and balanced or not, one thing seems to be almost guaranteed, no matter what happens, the Central Waterfront Saga may “delight” and “entertain” us for years and possibly yet many more duplicate decades to come. This is only the 85th act of goodness knows how many acts of the Central Waterfront performance to follow.

And yet one more thing. I hear “newbies” (good grief, I a “newbie never a native” who has been here for “only” 26 years, am now calling 5-10 year transplants “newbies”) speculating on all kinds of things that might be possible on the Central Waterfront property.

To these “5-10″ year “newbies,” whatever you have thought of, has not only been thought of before, but has been vigorously fought over before. But, hey, if everyone wants to fight about those things all over again, go right ahead. Just “enhances” the Central Waterfront drama that much more.

Who’s to say there should be any time limit on this saga. A half a century, a full century, maybe even 2 full centuries. Why not go for the Guinness Book of Records for the longest and “most delightful” civic brawl?

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, a Hotel, the Waterfront

Mayor John Moak would very much like Mr. Stephen Karp to build a hotel on Mr. Karp’s waterfront property.

The only thing that would appear more cursed than resolving the Central Waterfront parking conundrum, would be a hotel on Newburyport’s waterfront.

Hmm… let’s see, Roger Foster had an awful lot of problems with a proposed hotel on the waterfront way back when. Didn’t do much for his pocket book, as I recall, a lot of litigation.

And, hmm… let’s see, my recollection is that the Lagasses, who bought a lot of property from Mr. Foster, also proposed a hotel on the waterfront. And that was way back whenever. That proposal is still being litigated, yo these many, many years later. (Newburyport Current, February 2, 2007)

The Newburyport hotel waterfront curse. Be a real selling point for anyone wanting to leap in yet again. And from what I can make out from the article by Ulrika Gerth in the Newburyport Current, February 2, 2007, there is a little bit of hesitation. No one appears to be running gleefully towards the notion with wide and inviting open arms.

Judging from past contentious history, the notion of a hotel might be approached with caution. But no, Mayor John Moak apparently would like to dive into this one.

“Mayor John Moak said attracting a hotel is a prime focus of his administration… “I know this administration, me and the Planning Department, would be much more interested in trying to tweak things if it means more overnight accommodations,” he said. “We’re committed to that and we know we have to make some compromises to make it work.” ” (Newburyport Current, February 2, 2007)

What has people puzzled to downright alarmed is the reference in the above quote by Mayor John Moak to “tweaking things” and “making some compromises to make it work,” much less having a hotel be his “prime focus” (big news to a lot of folks). A hotel at all costs? Tweaking? Compromising? If history is any indication it is possible that not all of Newburyport’s populace would necessarily agree.

And maybe one of the most discouraging things in the article in the Newburyport Current is not about Mayor John Moak, who is desperately trying to find money somewhere to pay for all the civic things that Newburyport doesn’t have money for (like our schools among other things). But the fact that Stephen Karp, who controls Newburyport’s destiny, has only bothered to have one conversation with the gentleman in the corner office.

And I find this very dispiriting indeed.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Bike Racks Around the City

Bike Racks around the city of Newburyport, MA. What an incredibly good, sensible, obvious and downright fun proposal.

The Newburyport Parks Commission, the Seacoast Energy and Environmental Design Coalition (SEED) and Newburyport City Councilor Larry McCavitt together are working towards this goal. Good grief this really works for me.

This triumvirate hopes to cut down on pollution and help the environment in an effort to “encourage residents to bike rather than drive,” (Newburyport Daily News, January 8, 2006, by Stephen Tait) as well as help on the downtown parking dilemma.

According to the article in the Newburyport Daily News, SEED is seeking “donations from local businesses to support the effort and get more people downtown.” And the Newburyport Department of Public Works will help install the bike racks no less. This just gets better and better. And none of this is going to cost the City of Newburyport, MA a cent. How can we not love this.

And the “styles range from modern and streamlined to more historic-looking racks.” Sounds unbelievably well thought out.

Congratulations to City Councilor Larry McCavitt, SEED and of course the well love Newburyport Parks Commission.

It is a delight to see such a comprehensive and well thought out proposal that is such an incredibly “win-win” solution.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, George’s Talking Points

George Cushing, of Frog Pond at the Bartlet Mall, the political consultant for the Newburyport Political Blog, is trying to get my attention again.

What is it this time George?
George Cushing
trying to get my attention again.

George feels that it is questionable whether the “progressives” can get their “act together” so he would like to make some talking points on what he believes municipal policy could be.

Ok, I’ll bite George, but remember you are a FROG.

What in the world do you have in mind?

1) (We’re doing numbers here George? How very organized.) An aggressive planning agenda that addresses zoning changes to protect Newburyport’s neighborhood character and historic assets.

(Good start. But remember George’s last name is “Cushing” and he comes from a pretty swanky address, i.e. Frog Pond on Newburyport’s historic High Street.)

2) George likes these “Buy Local” folks. He would like two see two economic overlays, one for downtown and one for Waterfront West, sighting tons of ordinances that have been drafted across the country. He’d like to see Waterfront West have a square foot limitation for retail space. Apparently there is a correlation, according to the National Trust for Preservation, between retail space and historic preservation. Who knew? Smart Frog.

3) The Industrial Park, rezoned to include office space. George and Mayor John Moak like that one.

4) The capping of the Crow Lane Landfill completed. He thinks Mayor John Moak is doing all that any mayor could do.

5) The Senior Center, would like to see the Cushing Park (same name as George you notice) plan on the November ballot. (George thinks that if a Senior Center is built that there would be room for frogs??)

6) The Central Waterfront, would like to see the people’s wishes observed and have half park and half parking.

(Ok George, what about parking? From an aerial view, the train station has tons of unused parking? George, that’s from 5,000 feet, you really think anyone is going to go for that one? Hasn’t exactly been a popular solution all these years. And you want the City of Newburyport to include a Frog Pond? I don’t think so George, frogs are a zero constituency, no one is going ask the tax payers to pay for a Frog Pond. Come on.)

7) Schools. (Yes, I agree George, what a mess. Money, where are you going to get the money?) George would like the State and the Feds to get their act together and pony up some major bucks, because the tax burden on the average resident is already too high.

8) High Street (Oh, George, is this for me?) The Bike Lanes either finished or removed and the rest of the High Street Master Plan, which was passed by the Newburyport City Council, begin to be enacted — brick sidewalks, textured crosswalks, trees etc. (I like this.) (Apparently this was not for me. Had more to do with his feelings about Frog Pond. George wants the rest of High Street to be as nice as the restoration to the Bartlet Mall.)

9) And a discussion about the ineffectiveness of a 2 year mayoral term. Either a 4 year mayoral term or a city manager form of government. (My, “la de da,” aren’t we really out there on that one?)

Well, I’m impressed. That’s not a bad start considering he’s a FROG, except for the insistence that the tax payers pay for another frog pond and that frogs would get to hang around in a Senior Center. Good grief.

Mary Eaton


One of the other reason’s I’m pissed about all these complications I’ve discovered (like being sued) if I keep on blogging on the Newburyport Political Blog is that George could no longer make an appearance on the World Wide Web.

I love George. We are talking about George Cushing of Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall, in Newburyport, MA, who has graciously offered to be the political consultant for the Newburyport Political Blog, for goodness sakes.

And George has a big fan club. And when he gets upset about something all the frogs in Frog Pond at the Bartlett Mall get upset too. So upset sometimes that they even make guest appearances in an effort to comfort and abet (as in support) whoever they seem to feel needs comforting and abetting.

You know any other political blog that has a frog for a political consultant? I don’t.

George mulling over multiple dilemmas

George is mulling over how I could keep on blogging. He’s thinking of “safe” stuff that maybe I couldn’t be sued over. Like the mayor’s current plan for Newburyport’s Central Waterfront.

The map of the latest version of the new Waterfront possible plan has already made an appearance in both the Newburyport Current and the Newburyport Daily News (you’d think I’d be covered on the “being sued stuff” on this one.)

George and I both looked at the latest version of the new Waterfront possible plan, and said to ourselves, “Say what? The green part is where?”

And one of the things he and I are both confused about is a delightful gentleman, an ardent preservationist, seems to be plugging for this less than green wonder of a proposition.

(One of the things I’ve learned is that people don’t like to see their names in anything that could possibly be inferred as a “bad light.” That’s one of the ways I get these nasty phone calls. So, that’s one of the reasons I’m not saying who this well loved, ardent preservationist is, in this post at least. You’re just going to have to read the Newburyport Current’s past issues, they are on line.)

This very well respected preservationist has been described to me as “going over to the dark side” (George is wondering if “going over to the dark side” is suable. I hope not, I think it’s just someone’s opinion. I hope.)

“Going over to the dark side” (this is someone else’s phrase, not my phrase, I’m just repeating it here) is a little over the top, but it does indicate how impassioned (is that an understatement or what?) people are over this darn waterfront thing. People are equating the Newburyport Central Waterfront saga to “Star Wars!”

George (who is green) recommends that the mayor put in lots more green (i.e. park) in this particular parking plan. That might mean there could be some sort of resolution in my lifetime (how utterly optimistic of moi) to this ongoing, going on way more than a quarter of a century, emotionally charged, stunningly baffling Waterfront opus.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, The Waterfront

As I type away, massive opposition against Mayor John Moak’s stand to pave over Newburyport’s Waterfront is beginning to intensify.

Are we surprised? No.

This is my guess, if Mayor John Moak came out and said, yup, let’s do some combination of park and parking, the majority of opposition that is mounting feverishly would stop and a great sigh of relief could be heard across our small seaport New England city.

The “word on the street” is that Mayor John Moak is entrenched in his position of all parking on the Central Waterfront, and has absolutely no intention of backing down period. One would hope that the “word on the street” is wrong, but it is the opinion of this local political blogger, that the “word on the street” might well be true.

So, I would very much like Mayor John Moak to wake up, politically so to speak, “drop the waterfront rope” and do a little political compromising here.

The truth is there are no easy answers to the parking solution, answers maybe, but not easy ones. To face that reality, and get on with wrapping this whole waterfront thing up, would be a wonder. Plus, Mayor John Moak would go down in the history books as finally helping the whole thing to come to a resolution. Not a bad legacy. Believe me, that would work for me.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, A Report on the Meeting of the Waterfront Task Force

Dear Citizens,

I am placing in bullet points some highlights of Mayor Moak’s meeting on July 12, 2006 (at the Newburyport police station conference room) regarding the Newburyport NRA central waterfront issue.

* The mayor’s hand out during the meeting is titled, “Central Waterfront Task Committee”; list the various individuals and groups as listed in the Daily news story of July 13, 2006.

* CEB Note: General Law Chapter 39, section 23A list committee or subcommittee however otherwise constituted, deliberating on public business, as a government body and guided by Chapter 39, section 23A of the Open Meeting Law. This is being referred for consideration.

* Susan St. Pierre was invited by the mayor to present a Chapter 91 overview to the Mayor’s central waterfront task committee.

* CEB Note: Susan St. Pierre worked for Roger Forster (directly or indirectly) during the time a hotel was being proposed for the NRA/Public lands.

* CEB Note: The NRA holds the deed for these two lots on the waterfront. The original intent for this creating of an entity to hold the waterfront deed was to keep local politics out of the decision process.

* It was noted several times that all data collected from the mayor’s task force committee was for a presentation to the NRA in the form of a position paper.

* Janet Marcus Chairperson of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority noted the most recent public waterfront survey would be tabulated shortly.

* CEB Note: A rumor is floating that the current citizens’ survey on the use of the NRA/Public waterfront is indicating the public’s desire as the last survey and referendum before that; some parking (100-150) and mostly park.

* Mayor Moak stated that all he wants is what this group (Mayor’s central waterfront committee) determines as use/needs for the waterfront.

* The Mayor also noted he hoped that the people’s wishes to be in this plan. The mayor remarked about the process, would hate to see it stymie the imagination.

* As of this e-mail, the next Mayor’s central waterfront committee meeting is Aug. 9, 2006, 6 PM at the police station.

The public’s wishes have been expressed loud and clearly by majority votes and voices in referendums, surveys, and in the courts. If wisdom applied, it maybe wise to wait and listen to the most recent citizens’ survey STILL being tabulated. This would be wise if city government is interested in the voice of the people. I refer to the term city government; all officials elected by the people are responsible to maintain that trust of the ballot box.

It would be a grievous sin to allow the two Newburyport Redevelopment Authority lots; the most beautiful waterfront locations on the North Shore; to become an over flow parking lot for Mr. Karp’s Waterfront West project. This would also be a grievous sin towards the Citizens of our community and our Democratic Freedoms.

Albert G. Decie
Citizens for Environmental Balance (CEB)
Newburyport, MA

(Editor’s note: This is an edited version of a much longer email I received from Albert Decie. The longer email is a memo that is being sent to the District Attorney’s office enquiring whether or not the Open Meeting Law has been followed by Mayor John Moak. For the complete memo please contact Mr. Decie.)

Newburyport, The Mayor’s Waterfront Task Force Meeting

According to someone who attended the Mayor’s Waterfront Task Force meeting, it was well attended. In fact the room at the police station apparently was full. And yes, there was a reporter from the Newburyport Daily News.

Evidently folks like Mary Lou Supple and Albert Decie joined the group. And half the group, as someone explained it to me were “interlopers.”

“Interlopers” work for me.

And yes the Mayor was there and introduced the person, Susan St Pierre (I believe Ms St Pierre is with Vine Associates, 253 Low Street, Newburyport, Massachusetts,) who was to explain why Newburyport’s waterfront could be paved over.

As one would expect there were intelligent challenges made to the fact that somehow the Waterfront could get around Chapter 91. (For an explanation on Chapter 91 see earlier post.)

The Mayor apparently assured everyone that he would make sure that the Waterfront Task Force was posted.

Apparently much has been made out of the fact that this most recent meeting was not posted. At least two people have contacted the District Attorney’a Office and the Ethics Commission. Not good PR for Mayor Moak.

As I understand it, the Mayor told the gathering that the Waterfront Survey, from the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority would be one piece of information and the Waterfront Task Force would be another piece of information that would help guide the fate of this important piece of land.

Of course, this baffles me somewhat. It seems an odd way to govern, if the process of democracy is what one is after.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Tonight’s Meeting On the Waterfront Task Force Never Posted

Tonight’s meeting concerning paving the Waterfront and the “Waterfront Task Force” was never posted.

I don’t know much, well, I don’t know anything about the “open meeting laws,” but I do know this, it’s always good to have an open and transparent government—it doesn’t hurt to avoid the appearance of being secretive.

I was going to give the mayor the benefit of the doubt here. I thought surely there must have been a slip up somewhere, these things do happen.

However, I just received an email from Albert Decie saying that he in fact did check with the Mayor’s office, and apparently the Mayor’s office did not feel this meeting of the Task Force qualified as a meeting that needed to be posted.

And to quote Mr. Decie in a follow-up email “I just talked with the Police Department conference room scheduling person. The scheduling of the conference room at the police station for this evening at 6 PM is listed as scheduled by Mayor Moak.”

(The fact that anyone who attends this meeting gets to be considered part of the Waterfront Task Force gets odder and odder.)

The whole thing is very odd indeed.

I’m not going to be able to make it tonight. But I would think that the fact that this seemingly informative if not important meeting is taking place without being posted would ensure somewhat of a skeptical crowd.

I’ll be interested to find out.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Meeting About Paving Over the Waterfront

Tonight’s meeting of the Mayor’s “Waterfront Task Force” (6 pm, Wednesday July 12, 2006, at the Newburyport Police Station) will feature a presentation by a representative of the mayor regarding the way(s) in which the Waterfront can be paved and still conform to chapter 91.

Chapter 91 is filled tidelands.

Roger Foster spent over $100,000 getting his chapter 91 license.

The property the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority owns is not only filled tidelands (which the Commonwealth say the public has a right to access the water through,) but also Commonwealth tidelands, which have even more demanding restrictions.

A parking lot is not considered an acceptable use under Chapter 91, only parking for access to the river, boats, etc. So the state might stretch to a 50/50 park/parking, but it is my understanding that the State would not approve 100% parking.

At tonight’s meeting, 6 pm, Newburyport Police Station, I would imagine that the presentation by the Mayor’s representative would be to the effect that that is not necessarily true.

And also it is my understanding that the cost of asphalt has doubled since the Mayor came up with the 3.5 million estimate. Apparently many people felt that the original estimate would be more like 4-5 million.

It is also my understanding that there is no money, whatsoever, to pave the Waterfront.

Again, tonight’s meeting is:

6 PM
Newburyport Police Station
Waterfront Task Force

And again (see earlier post) apparently anyone who attends would be considered part of the Waterfront Task Force.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, The Task Force and Paving Over the Waterfront

Yes, you guessed it — the issue of the Mayor’s Task Force and paving over the Waterfront.

Evidently at tomorrow night’s meeting of the “Waterfront Task Force” (6 pm, Wednesday July 12, 2006, at the Newburyport Police Station) will feature a presentation by a representative of the mayor regarding the way(s) in which the Waterfront can be paved and still conform to chapter 91.

And apparently anyone who shows up is considered part of the “Task Force.”

To say the least, both of these things appear to be just a little confusing.

Apparently feel free to show up at 6 pm, Wednesday, July 12th at the Police Station and add your 2 cents.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, the Central Waterfont, the Task Force

Oy Veh…the article in today’s Newburyport Daily News, Thursday, June 29, 2006 on Mayor John Moak’s task force on the future of Newburyport’s Waterfront.

I hate it when all those red flags are actually red flags (see earlier post.)

Yup, this does appear to be a vehicle to further the Mayor’s agenda for Newburyport’s Waterfront (i.e. paving it over.) Sigh.

Yes, the initial results of the survey are in (the final results should be in by the end of July), guess what? “36 percent in support of a larger park with parking reduced to about 100 spaces. An additional 44 percent supported expansion of the park with about 200 parking spaces remaining. About 10 percent support all parking.”

You can bet your bottom dollar that this was absolutely not what Mayor John Moak had in mind (only 10 percent support all parking,) so yes, voila the “task force.”

The article in the Newburyport Daily News says, “Moak also reiterated his waterfront goal to primarily keep parking. To meet downtown parking demands, Moak said, the city needs to keep all spaces in the west parking lot and three-quarters of the parking in the east lot.”

And apparently the argument for the “original purpose of urban renewal” is being touted as the excuse for not heeding the results of the Waterfront survey.

To quote attorney William Harris who is serving as a citizen representative along with former Mayor Byron Matthews (see earlier post.)

“The solution should reflect the original purpose of urban renewal, Harris said, which was to support a vibrant business district.

‘If we don’t have a central waterfront that supports the central business district, then we failed the urban renewal plan.’ ”

Oy Veh…I do not know what we as citizens do when the Mayor of Newburyport makes such an obvious and blatant circumvention of the democratic process.

Mary Eaton,

Newburyport, Task Force for the Waterfront

Oy Vey. How can a blogger not blog on the story in today’s Newburyport Daily News, June 20, 2006 on the task force being formed by Mayor John Moak to help decide the most appropriate use of the waterfront property.

A few red flags here.

*The survey from the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority is still being collected. We do not even know the results of the survey yet. And Mr. Moak is on record any number of times as feeling it was “biased,” and taking the position of paving over the entire waterfront.

I am just guessing here, and believe me I do not know, but my guess is that the waterfront survey is not developing the way the Mayor John Moak might have hoped for…i.e. most probably the survey is coming in for half parking, half park or for all park…and my guess would be paving over the entire waterfront is not the overwhelming favorite choice.

*Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a task force after the survey for the Newburyport waterfront was in? A task force to implement what the people have said that they would most prefer?

From what the mayor is quoted as saying in the Newburyport Daily News, apparently not.

*And I’m very suspicious of political task forces. They are often a way to achieve a political agenda that may not be what the people of Newburyport would like. Take Mayor Moak’s task force on the Woodman property. All of a sudden a large 40B project is back in the picture, the Planning Director is kept out of the loop, and the possible solution to have a much smaller project in that area appears to be dismissed.

In my book, political task forces are not a good sign. Sigh.

*We already have the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority who is in charge of that area, why in the world would we need a task force on top of that, unless there is another agenda?

*Ok, Byron Matthew is a member of the task force. Not that Mr. Matthews is not an outstanding citizen, but the residence of Newburyport, Massachusetts made it very clear that they did not want him on the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, and that’s why the Newburyport City Council voted against his nomination on the first reading. So why is Mr. Matthew now on this task force addressing the very same issues.

*And if you really wanted an informed task force, let’s face it, you would ask Mary Lou Supple to be on there, yes?

*And the task force first meeting is June 28, 2006. That is 8 days from now. That’s very, very soon. If it were meeting were let’s say sometime in the beginning of September, when the public had time to respond this idea, it would be less of a red flag in my book.

*And a mater of coming to a “position, a vision,” well that is what the waterfront survey was for. My concern is that this is a way of Mr. Moak implementing his own vision.

For me, there are red flags on this all over the place. Good grief.

Mary Eaton, Newburyport

More Thoughts on the Waterfront

To respond to Mr. Clarridge’s thoughts on the waterfront I would like to share my elderly opinion. I am circulating a petition to have a Senior Center built on the East N.R.A. lot. The Seniors of this City have been ignored for over 25 years and deserve a small share of our most valuable waterfront. This location would be in walking distance for the Seniors in the James Steam Mill and the Sullivan Bldg. Many other Senior Centers are located in the downtown area, close to Public buildings, Post Office and shopping areas. I believe this idea is a lot better than hot topping the whole area for parking for Special Interest groups.

George Roaf, Newburyport

An Extra Clarification from Jeremy Gillis on Newburyport’s Waterfront

There seems to have been a great deal of confusion created over my position on the future of the Downtown waterfront. Let me try to make this as clear as possible:

I am not in favor of paving the waterfront but am for a mix of park and parking.

If the question were geared towards the NRA survey I would honestly and unequivocally support option #2 on the survey “Mix of expanded park and parking lots.”

The downtown will not be viable without parking. However it would also not be viable without the waterfront. I am opposed to paving the waterfront and would be happy to answer any questions on this matter. Feel free to call or email me, or just stop by the store. I hope this clears up any confusion about my position.

Take Care


(Editor’s note: Jeremy Gillis’ email address is:, phone number is: 978-463-0660 and the “store” is Port Paint and Paper.)

Newburyport, Leadership and The Waterfront

Mayor Moak’s platform touted his “leadership” abilities and his openness. I think a leader listens to his/her constituency, studies all sides of the issue with an open mind, and then formulates a plan/action based on a balance between perceived needs and what’s best for the community.

The role of a Mayor is not to thwart public comment or to only appoint people who mirror his/her point of view. A case in point: Mary Lou Supple has endeavored to educate people, listen to the multitude of opinions about the fate of the waterfront, and help the NRA Board and City reach a consensus as to the best use of the NRA lots. If she is not re-appointed to the NRA, I think we will see a lot of contentious attitudes about the waterfront’s fate.

People come to Newburyport because it is unique; because the waterfront, with its boats (working vessels, sailboats, as well as fancy yachts) reminds us of our maritime heritage; because it’s fun to stroll along the waterfront. There are other areas of Newburyport better suited to parking. If Waterfront West becomes a reality, Mr. Karp should provide parking for any new development; he should not look to the public to provide parking that will benefit him and his investors.

The (new) NRA questionnaire will help the Mayor, City Council, and the NRA decide on the fate of the NRA-owned land. Let’s get the questionnaire circulated (widely) and see what “the people” (once again) would like.

Vicki Carr, Newburyport

(Editor’s note: The NRA survey arrived in my mailbox today along with the City Census. I filled it out. I’m hoping everyone else does too. And thank you Vicki Carr for being a guest blogger.)