High Street Master Plan Passes

On Monday night, April 28, 2008, in the Newburyport City Council, the High Street Master Plan passed.

It passed 11-0. Not a peep from anyone. Everyone just sat there and then voted, “Ah,” another words, “yes.”

I expected at least one rant from Newburyport City Councilor Tom O’brien, having listened to his and former Newburyport City Councilor Erford Fowler’s very colorful rants the last time. But no, absolute silence.

So I figured it must be the first reading, and the rants and protests would come later on.

Well, of course I’m going to ask around and find out why this went so smoothly, of course.

And apparently, the High Street Master Plan–as it was read, the restoration of an historic roadway, was not an “Ordinance,” but an “Order.”

I’m still on a learning curve here. An “Ordinance” is a law, and “Order” is a directive, and only requires one reading.

So, “Voila,” the High Street Master Plan actually does pass 11-0. A minor miracle, in my book.

My first question is, can the mayor veto an “Order.” (I ask this question because the previous mayor vetoed the High Street Master Plan, go figure. See earlier entry on “Weird Bike Lane Politics.”) And the feeling that I am getting is Mayor Moak’s approach simply could be, not to fund the project in anyway. Thereby, very politically sidestepping the entire issue. Notice that there is not one mention of High Street, at least that I can find, in his proposed 2 million Capital Improvement Plan.

The only person who spoke in the Public Comments, was a Mom who was very concerned about the danger of the Newburyport High School students crossing High Street, when they get out of school. (And unfortunately this has been an ongoing dilemma, ever since the automobile was invented.)

And as I remember, and I’d have to look again, the compromise that “we” came to was, a “push light” at the corner of Toppans Lane and High Street, where the crosswalk is.

When I talked to the crossing guards when the Bike Lanes first went down, their response was that the only thing that slowed downed motorist around the High School on High Street, was the presence of a cop car. Other than that, people didn’t give a rip.

I mentioned this to one of my Newburyport City Councilors, and suggested somewhat flippantly, that maybe the city could leave an empty cop car, one that isn’t working so well, at the corner of Toppans Lane and High Street during peak get out of school hours.

And I don’t know whether or not they were kidding or not, but the response was, “good idea.”

The passing of the High Street Master Plan, one more milestone in the ongoing, now just about 13 years, High Street restoration saga.

Mary Eaton