I am relieved.
One of my many concerns about Newburyport’s 40R Smart Growth District (SGD) around the Traffic Circle is that the goal is to make the area pedestrian friendly, and it is one of the most dangerous, if not the most dangerous area for any pedestrian in the city. There is no safe way to get from State Street over to the Train Station or visa versa. There were some vague promises that the area would be addressed, but there was never anything ever from MassDOT saying, yup, this is exactly what we are planning to do to remedy the situation and this is when we are going to do it.
Along comes Newburyport City Councilor Jared Eigerman with a proposed amendment, to temporarily put on hold a small area of the 40R SGD, to encourage the state to come to the table and improve that area of Rt. 1 so that it is finally SAFE. Yeah!! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this from Councilor Eigerman, along with the co-sponsor of the amendment, City Councilor Bob Cronin.
There are a couple of maps in this post that outlines the parcels/area in question.
And there is absolutely no reason not to do this.
1) This would not affect anyone’s property rights, as I understand it, the old zoning in that smaller area would apply, until the state made sure it was safe to get to the Train Station from that small but crucial area, and then the 40R zoning would kick back in.
2) It would not affect affordable housing, the 40R still has a bundle of space to build in, until this particular issue is addressed, and then it would be safe to get from the Train Station to State Street, so that it would then actually make some sense to build more housing units on State Street, because it would then be pedestrian friendly.
3) It would not jeopardize the 40R Smart Growth District in any way.
4) And this concept came from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, so why in the world would the state not want to step up to the plate sooner rather than later, to make this whole area, their concept, happen in the way that it was intended.
I wrote all of my Newburyport City Councilors and Mayor Holaday expressing my enthusiasm for this proposal, and except for a few responses, it’s been “radio silence,” which concerns me.
Below is the amendment drafted by Councilor Eigerman that went before the City Council and is now in committee.
“4. Intersection of State and Parker Streets. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Zoning Ordinance, until such time as the City’s Director of Public Services certifies to the City Council that U.S Route 1 has been rebuilt, reconfigured, retrofitted, or otherwise improved to ensure safe pedestrian access across U.S. Route 1 within the SGD and south of Parker Street, development of a Project pursuant to this Section shall not permitted at any of the following parcels located near the intersection of State Street and Parker Street: Parcel 34-5 (165 State Street); Parcel 34-6 (3 Parker Street); Parcel 34-9-A (4 Parker Street); Parcel 34-11 (163-165 State Street); Parcel 34-12 (161 State Street); and Parcel 34-13 (151-155 State Street).”
The different parcels are marked on the maps.