I think it would have been unrealistic to expect that the appointment of Christopher Ryan, the mayor’s choice for Planning Director, to pass on the first reading at last night’s Newburyport City Council meeting. City Councilors appear to be listening to their constituents, and constituents still have lots of questions.
Residents are concerned about Mr. Ryan’s time commitment. They are concerned about the fall teaching commitment. And they also want to make sure that the teaching job this fall is a onetime deal, and that teaching is not going to be an ongoing activity. Reasonable questions.
Residents want to give Mr. Ryan time to really study the Newburyport Master Plan and they would like very specific answers on how he feels about specific issues. I think that is a reasonable request
And then there is the question of historic preservation. For many the preservation of Newburyport’s unique history is one of the most important issues facing our City. Residents want to make sure that Christopher Ryan is committed whole heartedly to historic preservation in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Mr. Ryan has cited his work in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Shaker Heights, OH was designed and built as a planned community (1912?) whose buildings were erected over a specific period of time and their style and character reflect a particular era. Newburyport obviously is quite different, having evolved over more than three centuries.
Councilor James Shanley at last night’s Newburyport City Council meeting said a very import thing. I’m paraphrasing here. Councilor Shanley said that the Planning Director is a key position and that decisions that are made would affect the City for decades if not centuries. I couldn’t agree more.
As I understand it there will be a sub-committee meeting held on Monday, August 21, 2006 to find out more about Mr. Ryan and then a special meeting on Monday August 28, 2006 to vote on Mr. Ryan’s appointment. All of this sounds very reasonable to me.
In today’s Newburyport Daily News, August 15, 2006, Mayor John Moak appears to be uneasy about losing Mr. Ryan as a candidate for Newburyport’s Planning Director saying that “Ryan has turned down other offers to accept the Newburyport position.”
I would think that this whole process would give Mr. Ryan the beginning of an idea of what it would be like to be Planning Director in Newburyport, MA. It is, as Council Shanley stated, a key position, and one that we as a City value. I think the process would indicate to Mr. Ryan that the expectations of Newburyport’s Planning Director are very high.