Newburyport, Thoughts on the Waterfront

After moving here from Marblehead in 1971, I became involved in local issues, including membership in various organizations and participating in local, state and national political campaigns. I am an original member of the “Friends of the Waterfront” and have been very concerned about the ultimate appearance, public access and ownership of that land.

Here is my idea idea/opinion for the waterfront; I’m sure there may be better ones out there:

Waterfront/parking (much like option 2 on the survey,) with addenda:

A)Beautifully-landscaped park which would almost hide and soften limited parking areas, which would be income-generating, via a gate & ticket or commuter-train parking system;

B) Three open, four-pillar, pitched-roof picnic shelters, spaced away from each other, for family/elderly/visitor get-togethers out of the sun or rain (simple design in-keeping with nearby buildings);

C) A simple, architecturally-appropriate (NOT a phony federal or Georgian, etc. design) limited-convenience store/laundry/shower/bathroom facility that would address the basic needs of boaters and others…the operator of said facility would operate it for a profit and lease the space from the city and be responsible for all maintenance. Revenue generated from the lease and parking would help defray costs of the waterfront park to the taxpayers.

I have ruminated about the waterfront for thirty years…the above scenario may seem like a betrayal of what I have fought for during that time. My thinking is that there does need to be some relief in terms of downtown parking and the thought of any kind of parking garage is extremely distasteful to me.

Existing or new sight-lines could be maintained if engineered sensitively. Plantings could ‘soften’ the appearance of the parking areas.

Most important is the fact that the whole area could be turned into one beautiful park at some point in the future if/when another solution is found for parking…who even knows if cars, as we know them today, will be around in 25/50 years?

Meanwhile, I feel that the waterfront should remain, in perpetuity, in the public domain with no “permanent”-permanent structures and the area will provide the most pleasure and ‘good’ for the most people, including old folks, working-class people, tourists, merchants, boaters, and even those of us who would rather see a pristine, unspoiled expanse of beautiful landscaped parkland there. My feeling is that a real, workable compromise is long-overdue.

David Clarridge, Newburyport