Newburyport, MA, A Reporter Leaving

Stephanie Chelf will be leaving the Newburyport Daily News in early October. I will miss her a lot.

Stephanie has been the main reporter for the Newburyport part of the Newburyport Daily News and she has often been praised for her journalism in the Newburyport Political Blog.

Recently Ms Chelf did a first rate article on the sale of the Wheelwright Property, or what this blogger calls the “rape of the Ridge.” The article was on the front page of the Newburyport Daily News on August 31, 2006, with an aerial view of the 5 acre piece of land, so that readers could get an idea of how much damage could be done by the new developers Todd Smith and Peter Nordbloom of Willis Lane Investments, LLC.

Stephanie also let us know that both men are officials of “one of the regions largest real estate and commercial property firms,” Nordblom Real Estate Solutions, located in Burlington, MA. Another words, this was not a feel good person from Newburyport, MA who would like to do right by our city.

I have always felt that Stephanie Chelf really cares about Newburyport, MA, and has gone out of her way to write stories that would inform residents of this small seaport city. Ms Chelf has always struck me as someone with a great deal of integrity.

Stephanie Chelf will be a hard act to follow. But I have a feeling that she will make sure that the person who replaces her will be introduced to as many of the “players” as possible and will have as much background as could be imparted before she leaves for a step up the journalistic ladder.

Mary Eaton

The Infill Ordinance, Newburyport, MA

In response to Newburyport City Councilor Erford Fowler’s feeling that every homeowner who would be effected by the proposed “Infill Ordinance” or “Amendment to Section 9” be notified, because a “Finding” could be very expensive.

Well, I asked around.

The first response was that if a person could afford to build, paying for a “Finding” would be “Bubkes” (Yiddish for nothing.)

As I understand it, if what was being proposed was “reasonable” and met the criteria in the proposed zoning revision, (i.e. that it fit in with the neighborhood in regards to size, scale, mass, volume) then whoever is requesting the “Finding” could probably do it themselves or use their architect.

However, if whatever is being proposed is out of character with the existing neighborhood and the City of Newburyport, well then, an attorney might be in order. As far as I’m concerned, hopefully that applicant would not be granted a Finding by the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), but instead would have to go back to the drawing board.

Let’s face it, greedy developers who do not have our City’s best interest at heart probably are not going to like this new proposed “Infill Ordinance” or “Revision to Section 9.”

Those who do have the City’s best interest at heart or are willing to be educated on what would be an appropriate addition or alteration for a “non-conforming” structure over 500 Square feet (and there are lots of folks like that out there,) would really appreciate this new zoning amendment.

It’s about Saving Our Town. And to quote from Steve Rudolph of Save Our Town, it’s about making sure that “our historical assets are not exploited for short-term economic gain, but preserved for long term economic growth,” And let me tell you that really, really works for me.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Save Our Town

Well, I went for a treasure hunt, hunting down “Save Our Town” bumper stickers.

Preserve Newburyport’s historic character, charm and beauty

The first one I found was not on a car, but on a door. Going down Fruit Street from High Street, just as I was getting near Temple Street, low and behold, a Save Our Town bumper sticker on a very classy looking door.

Save Our Town bumper sticker
on a classy looking door

And then when I walked downtown, and low and behold right there in the Screening Room window is a Save Our Town bumper sticker. How cool is that. Many, many thanks to the Screening Room. Wow.

Screening Room window with a
Save Our Town bumper sticker

And then further downtown I found this Save Our Town bumper sticker on a bulletin board. I’m going to leave that treasure hunt for readers of the Newburyport Political Blog, but the fellow to the upper left of the bumper sticker definitely gives a hint as to where it might be.

Save Our Town bumpersticker

And of course they are popping up on cars all over Newburyport, MA.

Save Our Town bumpersticker on a red car

If you would like a bumper sticker, it’s not too late.
You can contact Save Our Town. Or you can find Save Our Town bumper stickers at:

Magpie Café at the Tannery
Ganesh Imports, on State Street
Angie’s Coffee Shop, on Pleasant Street
Leary’s Fine Wines, on Merrimac Street
Fowle’s Market, on High Street

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Wheelwright Gardens Make the Endangered Property List

Preservation Massachusetts has named the Wheelwright Gardens as one of Massachusetts’ “10 Most Endangered Resources.”

Well, yeh. They thought outside the box. Good for Preservation Massachusetts.

The Wheelwright Gardens are the first gardens ever to be place on Preservation Massachusetts “10 Most Endangered Resources.”

High Street won in 1999. The only roadway ever nominated. It was a very, very big deal. Fenway Park made it to the top ten that year too, and it’s still standing, thank you very much.

In 2001 the two historic houses, the William Barlett House and the William Johnson House on the Federal Street made it to the top ten. Not only are they still standing, but they have both been lovingly restored, with deed restrictions no less.

The “Common Pasture” made it to the top ten in 2004, and the Common Pasture has had many successes.

The Endangered Resource List is a very big deal. Let’s hope that the Wheelwright Gardens have the same “luck” as everything else that has made it.

And this is from the Newburyport Current online, Tuesday, September 26, 2006 (again many thanks to Ulrika Gerth):

“The fact that this extremely rare Federal style garden has remained intact for over 120 years is amazing,” said Jim Igoe, president of Preservation Massachusetts. “This horticultural gem shares the same historic significance as the main house on this property and should benefit from the same type of protection granted to it.”

The story can be read at:

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Landfill, Firing New Ventures

I was talking to someone about the Crow Lane Landfill and they suggested that we as a City fire the company (New Ventures LLC) that is causing us all the problems.

That seemed like a great idea to me. A solution to all our problems.

I ran this by folks who know about all this stuff, and they said unfortunately we could not do that because New Ventures owns the land.

I was not aware of this. And I talked to a number of other people and they were not aware of this either. For me, that’s a big piece of the (unfortunate) puzzle.

And I think Urlika Gerth of the Newburyport Current did a fantastic piece on the Newburyport Landfill and all the heartache, distress and loss of quality of life that this awful situation is causing residents of Newburyport, MA.

Many thanks for that very empathetic, thoughtful and substantial piece of journalism.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Infill Ordinance

The “Infill Ordinance” or the “Amendment to Section 9” of the Newburyport Zoning Code is on the agenda for tonight’s Newburyport City Council Meeting.

The Newburyport Planning Board is asking for a joint Public Hearing with the Newburyport City Council

Last year, a previous version of this amendment to the zoning code was turned down by the Newburyport City Council.

What’s the biggest change in this version (at least that I can make out)?

The first version required a “Special Permit.” This version requires a “Finding.”

Huge difference.

Basically if your average homeowner would like to build an addition or alteration that is bigger than 500 square feet for a “non-conforming” structure for either a one or two family home, they would need to come before the City for a “chat.”

(This version includes both one-family and two-family homes. The previous version only applied to two-family homes. This change came about at the request of members of the Newburyport City Council.)

A special permit, whether it is for the Newburyport Planning Board or the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) is fairly stringent. Part of the requirement for both boards is that:

“The requested use is essential and/or desirable to the public convenience or welfare.”

One of my questions on the first version of this amendment to Section 9 was that if your average homeowner wanted to build, lets’ say a 600 square foot addition that included a bedroom and a very nice new kitchen, how would that be “essential or desirable to the public convenience or welfare?”

Well, frankly, it wouldn’t. It would be for the homeowner’s convenience and welfare. Under this version, that stringent requirement does not apply.

As I understand it, what this version does require is that the homeowner or developer come in front of the City for a chat to try and makes sure that whatever is going to be built is not only good for the homeowner, but is also in keeping with the local neighborhood character.

This works for me. And I hope it works for every member of the Newburyport City Council. In my book, that would be terrific.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Discussion About a City Manger

I couldn’t be more delighted that there is already a dialogue going on about the subject of a City Manager for Newburyport, MA.

Here is a question from an astute reader of the Newburyport Political Blog. (It is a question that I have as well):

“I guess I am picturing a situation where the city starts bringing in people from all over the state/country to interview for the job, much like the planning director, and I don’t know if that is a good thing. I think having local people in positions like this is very important, especially in a place like Newburyport. If there is no one in town that has the professional qualifications (how many people in Newburyport are or have been a city manager?), then are we forced to look outside of the city for a candidate? At least a requirement of being a mayor is that you live in town, and the only real chance you have to win is if you are someone that has been around town for a while. As much as I like the idea of having a non-political person running the day to day stuff, I just don’t like the idea of not having locals in charge of their own city…”

And these are some thoughts by another astute reader of the Newburyport Political Blog that I found very interesting.

“By design, a city manager is an apolitical position. It is not necessary for the manager to be a resident or to have insight into what is going on. That is the job of the City Council, who would direct the manager to implement the policies that the Council comes up with.

The Newburyport City Council is in the position to know wishes and concerns of their constituents, and the policies and directions that would come out of the City Council would be the result of debate and compromise.

Under the Mayor/Council system, policies and initiatives usually come out of the Mayor’s office. In other words, one person sets the agenda.

Under the Council/Manager system, 7,9, or 11 people would set the agenda, and then the Manager would implement that agenda. Should the Manager prove to be incompetent or working counter to the agenda set forth by the City Council, he/she would be fired. The locals would still be in charge of the City.

It is my opinion that we would want to look outside of Newburyport for a Manager. The goal would be to hire the most qualified, experienced person for the money that we could afford. If we did hire someone from outside the community, they would not have the loyalties, family ties or outstanding obligations of someone who has been in town for a long time. (Editor’s note: as I understand it, this is what would make it possible for the position to be non-political.)

Another point that is important to remember is that the role of Mayor would not go away. The Mayor would become more of a ceremonial role, and would occupy the position now held by the City Council President. The Mayor would be the “spokesperson” and “ambassador” for the City. And there are two ways in which the Mayor could be chosen — election by the Council, or the person who gets the most popular votes.”

Many thanks to both astute readers of the Newburyport Political Blog.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Change to a City Council – City Manager Form of Government

The idea of a City Manager might go against the grain of our rich history of having a mayor run the City of Newburyport, MA.

True, but…

Every mayor has been well intentioned there is no doubt about that. But we are asking your average person to all of a sudden become a CEO of a multi-million dollar municipality. This is not only daunting but when I think about it in those terms, but it also is pretty amazing that we as a City would require that of anyone who is not professionally trained.

And we’ve had a 2 year mayoral turnover for well over a decade.

The Crow Lane Landfill crisis as a good example of what a lack of continuity could do.

From what I understand New Ventures LLC was chosen under one administration. However, when it came to having a contract with New Ventures (the private company that runs the landfill) another administration was in place.

The issue is an extremely complex one. We will never know for sure, but it is certainly possible that with leadership continuity Newburyport, MA might have had a contract with New Ventures LLC that would have been very strict and we would not be in the incredible mess that we are in now.

Or we might have had a different owner than New Ventures LLC altogether, wouldn’t that have been nice.

The 2 year mayoral turnover has been blamed on media scrutiny. But frankly, I don’t find that argument holds any weight at all. The Newburyport City Council has been under an equal amount of scrutiny, sometimes much more, but there is a fair amount of Council continuity.

I’ve lost track of how many years Councilor McCarthy, Councilor O’Brien and Councilor Fowler have been with us. And I’m also beginning to lose count of how long Councilor Earls, Councilor Shanley, Councilor Connell and Councilor Vogel have been with us as well. Basically we have 4 (out of 11) new City Councilors this year.

It could be argued that with the City Council under a council-manager form of government, the Newburyport City Council would by necessity become more focused and more serious and hopefully less “political” in the not so good version of being “political.” And obviously the diversity would serve as a check and balance for our City.

I think psychologically it might be hard to make a transition to a council-manager form of government (don’t forget, we would still have a mayor), but on a purely rational basis it appears to make sense.

And my hope would be that we as a City could begin to have some sort of dialogue about the possibility, because in my opinion our long-term survival may depend on a change of our current way of doing things.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Mr. Karp and Flying Rumors

One of the really frustrating things for me is that we still have no word from our biggest landlord in town, Stephen Karp. We may be “small potatoes” to Mr. Karp, but everyone from the mayor on down would like Mr. Karp himself to make a personal visit to Newburyport, MA and give us some idea of what is on his mind for our small seaport city.

When we as residents see a long time and well loved establishment like The Arboretum at 58 Merrimac Street go out of business because of a raise in rent, rumors start to fly all over the place.

One of the wildest rumors that I’ve heard is that L.L.Bean is coming to town and is going to go where the Fitness Factory is now located. (Mr. Karp owns the building)

I usually don’t do much fact checking, but I thought that rumor was so nuts that I actually called the owner of the Fitness Factory, Kate Hudson, and asked what the heck was going on.

Well, absolutely nothing is going on. The Fitness Factory is going to stay put, just where it is, just like it has been for the last 25 years, thank you very much. Well, whew on that one.

But, these crazy rumors have got to stop. And Mr. Steven Karp owes us a visit, because darn it, we deserve to know what the heck is going on in Newburyport, MA. The distrust of Mr. Karp and the general unease is very high in this New England seaport city.

Mary Eaton

Editors note: It has also been confirmed by L.L.Bean that there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that L.L.Bean is coming to town and is moving into the Fitness Factory.

Newburyport, City Manager – Non-Political

In my wanderings around the World Wide Web looking for information on City Managers I came across an article by Bob Greene of “Jewish World Review.”

Mr. Green advises for “cities that have become sick of petty political infighting” to get rid of the idea of having a mayor and instead “hire a city manager.”

“City managers — when the system works as it should — are non-political. They have no politics-driven agendas: They are hired to get a job done:

Make the city work — and make it work efficiently.”


The more I look around the World Wide Web, the more I see that City Managers appear to be the norm, rather than the exception.

One of my questions is “how in the world does a City Manager stay ‘non-political?’”

I’m an artist, so I’m not exactly an expert on this one.

However, in my Internet explorations I came across an article by Brendon Connelly on being non-political or apolitical.

These are some of his thoughts and I thought they were very wise:

“1) Wear no mask.
The guy that walks into your office is the same guy that walks into your colleague or boss’s office. One face, no mask.

2) Be transparent.
All my agendas are clearly visible. You want to know what I think? I’ll tell you. The words I say might make one or both of us uncomfortable, but I’ll do my best to soften them without diluting their truth.

3) Flex and bend.
I strive to be flexible and willing to hear opposing points of view. Defending a lame position for any reason is, well, lame. I don’t assume I’m the smartest person in the room, and I generally take the opinions of others at face value (this is where being apolitical can be painful, but only in the short term).

4) Listen to ‘em.
Learning to really listen is dangerous to my status quo. Truly listening means I’m extending myself beyond my own boundaries, at my risk and for the benefit of the other. It’s hard to do if you’re unwilling to be transformed.

5) Park the ego.
This is a difficult one (and probably is for everyone), but it’s essential for me. When my ego gets wrapped up in the work, it’s too easy to start defending those lame positions…

6) Forget the empire.
I don’t want to be an empire builder. I’ve got my responsibilities and I attend to them. If I acquire an empire, I’ll probably never notice.

7) No gossip.
I fail too often at this one. Unfortunately I slip into gossip mode too often, and I think it’s because I’m so willing to talk things out.

8) Focus on it.
What’s the business issue at hand? Focus on it. The key is to be sure I’m not being myopic about the issue I’m focusing on. Sometimes the issue is broader than my current focus.”


Mary Eaton

City Manager, Newburyport

I’ve been doing a little poking around and it appears that folks on either side of the aisle, so to speak, “conservative “or “progressive”, “native” or “newcomer”, seem to like the idea of Newburyport having a City Manager.

To have such unity in Newburyport, MA on such a novel idea is novel in itself.

So I did a little research on what in the world a City Manager could be. My extensive research so far is from on the World Wide Web. But I figured it would be a good idea to start someplace.

According to a “council-manager” form of government means “the mayor is a first among equals at the city council, analogous to a head of state for the city. However, the mayor does not have any special legislative powers.”

“In the council-manager form of government, an elected city council is responsible for making policy, passing ordinances, voting appropriations, and having overall supervisory authority in the city government. In such a government, the mayor will perform strictly ceremonial duties or will act as a member and presiding officer of the council.

The council will hire a city manager or administrator who will be responsible for supervising government operations and implementing the policies adopted by the council. The manager serves the council, usually with a contract that specifies duties and responsibilities. Ideally, the manager is apolitical…

…a city manager can be seen as a similar role to that of corporate CEO in providing professional management to an organization. Council-manager government is much like a publicly traded corporation. In a corporation, the board of directors appoints a CEO, makes major decisions and wields representative power on behalf of shareholders. Likewise in council-manager government, the city council appoints a city manager, makes major decisions, and wields representative power on behalf of the citizens.”

The whole “City Manager 101” article can be found at:

Mary Eaton

Landfill Agreement, Newburyport, MA — It Stinks

I was very glad to read in the Newburyport Daily News, September 19, 2006 that Mayor John Moak and the Newburyport City Council are as upset about the state’s agreement with New Ventures LLC, (the owner of the Crow Lane Landfill) as residents are.

City Councilor Barry Connell is quoted as saying “The deal the DEP laid out was to have a criminal pollutant bring more pollutants into our landfill…”

There will be a meeting with the City Council, the Mayor and the City Attorney to try and figure out how to help the citizens of Newburyport, MA.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Attorney General’s Office (AG) would like to resolve the Crow Lane Landfill issue without a court battle. However, that solution is obviously unacceptable to the citizens of Newburyport, MA.

The DEP and the AG would allow New Ventures to resume dumping construction and demolition debris at the landfill, the very debris that is a cause of the toxic odors in the first place.

So this is what I would like to see–as much media attention on this ridiculous fiasco as possible.

I would like to see Channels 4, 5, 6 and 7 camped in the Crow Lane Landfill neighborhood. I would like to see the residents telling their heartbreaking stories on television as well as to other major media outlets.

It is one way to force the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and New Ventures LLC to do right by the citizens of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

This is as important as any other disaster. The residents of Newburyport, MA have been and still are going through hell.

Major media outlets where are you?

Mary Eaton
Newburyport, MA

Newburyport, The Wheelwright Property Subdivision Proposal

The Wheelwright property developers, Wills Lane Investments, are speeding right along. The developers are on tomorrow night’s Planning Board agenda for an OSRD Pre-Application Conference (Wednesday, September, 20, 2006, 7PM, City Hall.)

(I believe that the fact that this is a Pre-Application Conference means that the neighbors (much less the public) are not notified. As I understand it the neighbors are only notified once an application has actually been submitted.)

The developers have not formally submitted a development application. The Pre-Application Conference gives them the chance to float their plans to the Newburyport Planning Board to get feedback before filing an application that may get rejected. (This blogger hopes everything they would like to do would get rejected and they would not be able to do anything at all.)

The street that the Wheelwright property developers list is Brown Street. Brown Street is an extension of Greenleaf Street (that goes past the Newburyport Fire Station and the video store.) It is on the other side of State Street.

On the Newburyport GIS map, it looks like Brown Street curves around the property. But from what I can make out, that curve looks like it would be the driveway to the Cemetery where the Wheelwright family (among many others) is buried. That picture is in a previous post on the Newburyport Political Blog. I am not absolutely sure of this.

But what is for sure is that the proposed road and 5 house subdivision would border right along the Cemetery. It’s bad enough that the Wheelwright property developers would already like to rape the Ridge, much less desecrate Newburyport’s ancestors.

Newburyport Planning Board
This Wednesday
September 20, 2006
7 PM, Newburyport City Hall

Mary Eaton

Leadership in Newburyport, MA

What makes a good mayor?

Wow, that’s a tough one.

I read an article on the World Wide Web by Warrren Bennis called “The Leadership Advantage,” from “Leader to Leader,” Spring 1999. And in the article there is this checklist, which I found fascinating.

Constituent Needs for:
Meaning and direction
Hope and optimism

Leaders provide:
Sense of purpose
Authentic relationships
“Hardiness” (confidence that things will work out)
Bias toward action, risk, curiosity, and courage

To Help Create:
Goals and objectives
Reliability and consistency
Energy and commitment
Confidence and creativity

I know there are colleges, universities and PhD programs for this sort of thing. So I feel a little foolish, a blogger who is a professional artist blogging about leadership. But Newburyport, MA has had a mayoral turnover every two years for quite a long time, and leadership is definitely an issue.

And how in the world do we as a small municipality with limiting funds come up with such a human being that has the experience and the persona to create the criteria above?

I will have to admit that long for someone in the corner office that we can trust to give the citizens of Newburyport, MA a sense of “trust, hope and optimism” and who imparts “confidence that things will work out,” and inspires “energy, confidence and creativity.”

There have been a number of Letters to the Editor about having a “professional City Manager” for Newburyport, MA. I will confess that I have no idea what that means (I suspect it would indicate a trained municipal CEO) or how in the world we in Newburyport, MA would ever accept such a concept. But I long for consistency at the helm of our New England seaport city that would exhibit the criteria for first-rate leadership mentioned in the checklist above.

Mary Eaton

Editors note: The full article can be found at:

The Role of the Planning Office in Newburyport, MA

Let’s have a little chat about the Mayor John Moak’s redefining Julie LaBranche’s (our former City Planner) old job description.

In the past City Planners in Newburyport, MA have worked with applicants to explain what is generally acceptable to the Newburyport Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA.)

The City Planner has explained to all sorts folks coming into Newburyport City Hall for help and information on projects large and small about height, building mass, lot coverage, setbacks when applying for special permits and variances.

Believe me before I started the Newburyport Political Blog I had no clue about any of this stuff. And it’s so complicated that I still do not comprehend most of it, and I’m really trying.

So I know for your average person in Newburyport, MA talking with someone about what they would like to do is really, really important. And it is my understanding that many of the projects that are initially presented to the Planning Office simply wouldn’t fly with the ZBA.

And yes, this is where a City Planner is so handy. Because a City Planner in Newburyport, MA can offer options as to how to avoid excesses that may cause delay or just downright rejection by the ZBA.

And a good City Planner can also offer up constructive solutions that will benefit the applicant and the residents of the City of Newburyport as well. Or what I would call one of those delightful “win-win” situations.

However, if the new “Zoning Administrator” is going to have to review every building application, which by the way it is my understanding that that job belongs to the Newburyport Building Inspector, “goodbye” helping the public and “hello” to jamming up the Zoning Board of Appeals. And this is very unappealing in my book, let me tell you.

So, I still cannot figure out what in the world Mayor John Moak could be thinking about with this revamping of the Planning Office. It really, really doesn’t work for me.

And whoever is Mayor next, if they are in tuned with what a Planning Office is all about, they will have to completely redefine what the Zoning Administrator, Building Inspector and Planning Office would be doing. And hopefully change the Zoning Administrator’s job back to that of a City Planner. Yes, necessary and vital, and what an incredible waste of time for all and sundry in Newburyport, MA.

Mary Eaton

Newburyport, Crow Lane Landfill, Let’s Put on Some More Pressure

Let’s kick this one up a notch.

The Crow Lane Landfill agreement that the DEP is making with the owner of New Ventures LLC (who could not be bothered to attend the meeting about this issue on Thursday, September 14, 2006) is unacceptable.

And it’s not as if the Mayor, the Newburyport City Council or State Representatives Mike Costello and State Senator Baddour aren’t doing everything they can, because they are.

I love the quote in the Newburyport Daily News September 15, 2006 on the meeting, “Nylen (New Ventures Attorney Richard “Chip” Nylen) said he agreed that odors were a nuisance, but dismissed claims that they cause health effects that residents have complained about…”

The Crow Lane Landfill reminds me a little of the movie “Erin Brockovich” where everyone knows that the toxic chemicals are not good.

Mr. Chip Nylen can be in denial all he wants, but believe me nausea, dry-heaves, headaches, difficulty breathing, this doesn’t work for me.

This strategy worked for the fight to save High Street, so maybe it would work for the Crow Lane Landfill (it’s worth a try folks.)

Two things… “Everyone has got a Mother”…and “The power is in the Cc’s.”


1) Every time a stench report is made (or if you would like to write a general email of protest, that couldn’t hurt either,) email New Ventures with the details and then “Cc” it to Jack Morris at the Newburyport Health Department (Mr. Morris can keep a record,) and to Senator Kerry and to Senator Kennedy. We are going right to the top.

    • *New Ventures LLC:

      (Extra information : Phone # for owners Della and William Thibeault, Wood Waste of Boston, Everett, MA, (617) 387-3700, no website and the only email I could find was…these folks are hard to find.)

      *Jack Morris,
      Newburyport Health Department:

      *Senator John Kerry:

      *Senator Edward Kennedy:

  • (At the moment Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry’s emails will not go through unless the web forms above are used. If someone knows better email addresses please let me know and I will change the email addresses above ASAP.)


    2) Every email contains what I call one of the “Mother buttons:”

    • *“I am so disappointed that New Ventures cannot bother to take the time….”

      *“It is so shameful that New Ventures LLC can not be bothered with the health of the citizens of Newburyport, MA…”

      *“How unfortunate that New Ventures is so selfish that it is unable to consider the children of Newburyport, MA…”

      *“We are at our wits end because New Ventures LLC has been so inconsiderate…”

  • Think of the worst thing that your Mother could have said to you and include that in every email that goes out to New Ventures and “Cc” it to Jack Morris at the Newburyport Health Department and Senator Kerry, Senator Kennedy. Write 3 variations and stick one of them at the end of every email, every time.

    It worked against MassHighway when it came to saving High Street maybe it has a chance of working here too.

    Mary Eaton

    Newburyport, The Wheelwright Property

    The Wheelwright property that lies between High Street and the Oak Hill Cemetery in Newburyport, MA belonged to Mr. William Wheelwright. Mr. Wheelwright was well known for having built the first railroad in South America among other things.

    The Wheelwrights are buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery that is within view of their former property. The Wheelwright’s graves are literally within site of the estate.

    I am sure that Mr. William Wheelwright and his wife Martha Bartlet Wheelwright never imagined having a 5 house subdivision (and I’m pretty sure that they will not be 5 dainty houses) right next to their gravesites.

    It seems to me to be unbelievably insensitive of the developer to even think about desecrating our historic heritage by contemplating such an act.

    It certainly seems like a sacrilege to me.

    A reader of the Newburyport Political Blog took these pictures. Many thanks to Ed Mair.

    Edward Gerrish Mair © 2006
    This Memorial marks the actual Wheelwright family plot.

    Edward Gerrish Mair © 2006

    And this photograph is taken by the State Street entrance to the Oak Hill Cemetery and is right by the property that will be developed.

    Mary Eaton

    Newburyport Planning Office Doing Part of the Building Inspector’s Job?

    Well, I’m a little upset about the Mayor of Newburyport rewriting what used to be Julie Labranche’s (our former City Planner) job. This must be part of what the Mayor keeps talking about when he keeps saying he would like to “streamline the permitting process.”

    So now we will not have a City Planner. We will now have a “Planning/Zoning Administrator.”

    The new position essentially takes over half of the Building Inspector’s job.

    One might assume that Mayor John Moak may not be interested in long range planning issues for the City that would protect Newburyport’s historic heritage, local neighborhood character and environmental quality.

    If I really wanted to be “catty” I could say that Mayor John Moak appears to be interested in making his long time friend, Gary Calderwood, our building inspector’s job a whole lot easier.

    Now I like Mr. Calderwood, he has always been very kind to me. But from a taxpayer’s point of view, it would make more sense to me for our Building Inspector to do the existing job description, than take away much need expertise from the Planning Office.

    We need a Planning Office that would be focused on long term planning to protect our local neighborhood character and historic heritage and environmental quality.

    Local neighborhood character, environmental quality and historic heritage = money for the City of Newburyport, MA.

    Destruction of our historic heritage, environmental quality and local neighborhood character = loss of money for the City of Newburyport, MA.

    I am confused. What part of this equation does Mayor John Moak not seem to understand?

    Mary Eaton

    Reporting Toxic Stench from the Newburyport Landfill

    The toxic fumes from the Crow Lane Landfill are from hydrogen sulfide and smell like rotting eggs or rotting cabbage. The odors have caused headaches, nausea and dry-heaves, among other symptoms.

    Residents are urged to continue to call in stench reports to the landfill owner, New Ventures (978-462-5240), whenever they smell hydrogen sulfide from the Crow Lane landfill — day or night, weekdays or weekends.

    The DEP and the Attorney General’s Office pay attention to the number of recorded episodes. Apparently, if only a few calls are recorded, New Ventures claims that it is “only a few troublemakers” who object and that no one else notices the hydrogen sulfide or cares about it. So residences are urging people to encourage their neighbors to call as well and keep calling until the problem is permanently solved.

    If possible, please also e-mail Ron Klodenski at ( or Jack Morris at the Newburyport Health Department ( or both after an odor incident is called in.

    Please include the approximate time, date and location of the fumes so that the Health Department can verify that the telephone report was recorded and reported back to the Health Department by New Venture. Every attempt will be made to forward e-mails onto the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) so that they know the problem has yet to be solved.

    Again the meeting addressing this acute problem is this Thursday
    September 14, 2006
    7 PM
    Newburyport City Hall

    Mary Eaton

    Pollution Runoff from the Newburyport Landfill

    Hi Mary

    It isn’t only the air quality that we should be concerned about – it’s the water and the soil too. The landfill problem is a package deal of all three – air, water, and soil.


    All the landfill runoff pollution that is seen in this photo ended up in the Little River water that flooded all the homes and yards downstream in the Doe Run/Quail Run area and continued on through the Industrial Area into the Parker River and the clam flats during the May flood.

    The big question to the DEP and the AG is, ”What are you going to do right now short term to mitigate the problem?”

    I believe that David Chatfield (chemical engineer and articulate spokesperson for the neighborhood) will tell them to raise the pipe of the flare much higher into the air NOW, and then get on with the longer range solutions.

    Yes, the first thing that must be fixed is the air quality, but DEP and the AG need to see the big picture of the problem in terms of the health, safety and welfare of the public.

    Thanks for urging folks to attend the meeting:

    This Thursday
    September 14, 2006
    7PM at City Hall.

    Marlene Schroeder