Newburyport Planning, Things Take Time

There have been howls of protest about The Clipper City Rail Trail, or The Newburyport Rail Trail, as I remember it, for about a decade.

The Rail Trail from underneath the High Street over pass.
The Rail Trail from underneath the High Street over pass.

And what I have found is that it is difficult for people to imagine what a project of a large magnitude would be like, and why should anyone’s money be used for it?

The same applies to the renovation of Brown Square. Now that people see tall (unplanted) trees in the renovation area, what I am hearing is that people are wondering if the goal is to make Brown Square look like it did in the old photographs and postcard.

Brown Square, courtesy of the Newburyport Library
Brown Square, courtesy of the Newburyport Library

The answer is yes, yes and yes. And BTW I’m pretty sure it’s going to be beautiful and help our tourist economy no less.

Now that the first part of the Newburyport Rail Trail is finished, people appear to finally see it as a huge asset to Newburyport, MA, one which everyone in Newburyport can enjoy, and also a help in attracting the tourist dollar.

And I was so pleased to see Geordie Vining of the Newburyport Planning Office finally get some well deserved recognition in the full page spread in the Spring issue of Newburyport Magazine, for the unbelievable work that he has done concerning this first completion of the Newport Rail Trail.

Ever since working with Geordie Vining on the restoration of High Street, I have had the utmost respect and admiration for the gentleman. Geordie measured every stretch of sidewalk along the High Street corridor, and as a result has been able to convince all and sundry that High Street met the ADA sidewalk codes, and the nature of the street never had to be altered. This attention to detail is not only thoughtful, but huge.

Eventually, like one or two years ago, the High Street Master Plan was finally voted on by the Newburyport City Council.

Things take time. Things take lots and lots of time.

And I have always been grateful that Geordie has stuck with us (i.e. Newburyport), because I have witnessed first hand the kind of flack that he receives (and it can be really nasty).

So, I know Geordie Vining would never think this way, but for me the enthusiasm now being expressed about the Newburyport Rail Trail is a vindication of sorts for all his hard work. And it would be great if people would trust any project that might be in Mr. Vining’s hands, and realize that “things take time,” lots and lots of time, and Geordie Vining has the vision, knowledge, patience to see this sort of thing through.

We as a city are very luck to have him in the Newburyport Planning Office. (And it’s called “Planning” for a reason, planning takes time–years, very often decades.)

Newburyport and Governing

One of my huge questions about President Obama, was yes, this is an intelligent man, yes, he could run one remarkable campaign, but, when push comes to shove (pun intended), could he govern?

And after Sunday’s historic vote on Health Care Reform, love it or hate it, the answer is in my mind, most definitely, “Yes.”

I was concerned that as a nation we had done something so historic by electing our first black president, that just that accomplishment alone would paralyze us from going forward. That after (and yes, probably during) the election of President Obama, there seems to me to be a blistering undercurrent of often collective unconscious racism, and could President Obama and the country move forward with this added obstacle.

And after our own Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s election, would President Obama still be as unrelenting in his quest of Health Insurance Reform?

I am moved and inspired by this remarkable and persistent accomplishment.

And one of the things that also concerned me, was that expectations for our new president were so high and unrealistic, that there was no way anyone could live up to those hopes and anticipations. It was a very long fall from the exceedingly high pedestal that he had been placed on.

Conversely, in Newburyport, MA what I have heard since the November election for Mayor of Newburyport, is that the expectations for Mayor Donna Holaday were low if non-existent. This perplexed me, but it has also worked in her favor, big time.

So many people have said to me that they are “surprisingly” impressed with our new mayor Donna Holaday. My response is always one of surprise, and I am delighted to not only reassure people that Donna Holaday, in my mind, is already one terrific mayor, but also to fill in some of the details in why I would think that.

And the question with any new mayor is for me, “Can they govern?” And my hope is that, yes, Donna Holaday would be able to govern Newburyport, MA in a remarkable way.