White Hen Pantry and New England Development

Talk about a bad PR, good grief.

For those who may not have heard yet, Mr. Karp and company are evicting a small, local, neighborhood convenience store up on Pond Street, White Hen Pantry.

And I was afraid that the feisty spirit of Newburyport was dying out, only to be replaced by skim milk vanilla apathy. Not so.

Public outrage reigns and is only mounting.

How about this from Margaret Flaherty, Newburyport Daily News, August 5, 2009:

“The word is out that the store (White Hen Pantry) will soon be gone to the roving octopus of development known as Stephen Karp and the Lagasses of Newburyport. Express Video, a privately owned DVD center located at the Greenleaf side of the building, was forced out a few months ago…nobody I know or talk to was ever asked how we felt about having a giant CVS take over the neighborhood.”

That’s barely the tip of the iceberg. Letters to the Editor are just beginning to appear. A large meeting to stop Mr. Karp and company from evicting White Hen Pantry was held this Monday, August 3rd. A Facebook page has been created, bumper stickers are in the works, a “Save The Hen” website , with all the stuff that’s been written and contact information, with emails and phone numbers for people who want to help, is already up and running. A petition that has way over 3,000 signatures is still being signed.

On March 13, 2009 Mr. Karp came to town and personally “reassured” people that he wanted public input on his development projects. Well, he has got it.

Best case scenario for New England Development and for Newburyport, Mr. Karp listens to the mounting outcry.

Worst case scenario, Newburyport loses a local, neighborhood, community business, which is frequented by young and old, blue collar and white collar, wealthy and not so wealthy, Mr. Karp and New England Development have an ongoing PR nightmare and the complete lack of trust in any future New England Development projects by the population of Newburyport, MA.

Best case scenario, New England Development wakes up and shows that they care about keeping the intrinsic value of Newburyport, MA, some trust, although badly damaged, is restored, and a neighborhood convenience store is allowed to continue to prosper.

This is a tipping point for the relationship between Newburyport residents and New England Development–Stephen Karp. And the buck stops with Mr. Stephen Karp, and I’m sure that he knows it.