In my mind the stupidest vote by a Newburyport City Council came during the Lavender Administration concerning the parking garage downtown.
At that time there was a piece of property, right off Route 1, on Merrimac Street, right behind the police station on Green Street, called “Lombardi Oil.” The owner of the Lombardi Oil property offered the land to the city for “a song” (especially in 20/20, a real loud song).
There was 5 million dollars good to go from the State of Massachusetts to start the ball rolling. And the Newburyport Planning Office had come up with an amazing (what we now call “Smart Growth”) flexible plan, that included a very attractive street view. This was no ugly parking garage plan, believe you me. It was a complete “win,” not even a “win/win” situation. And the Newburyport City Council at that time, turned it down, I believe, by one vote.
As I remember it, the rational for some of those pivotal votes, was that the money should be used for a spanking new elementary school. That’s what the emphasis should be. And in 20/20 in 2006 and 2007 we know what a lousy visionary approach that turned out to be.
In December 2006, the community at large ranted against what then Newburyport City Councilor Audrey McCarthy referred to as the “Taj Mahal” approach to our elementary school building needs, as opposed to funding much needed basic education.
What was lost, way back there in the last part of the 20th Century, was a crucial moment that could have helped empower the downtown Newburyport economy. Yes, yikes.
And I’m wondering, if a similar lapse in judgment and vision is about to happen on the Newburyport City Council floor in regards to a vote for the location for the Newburyport Senior Center.
It looks like a vote for a Senior Center site at Cushing Park may go down the tubes. (Anyone reading the Newburyport Blog in the year 2008, knows how strongly I feel about having a Senior Center.)
And I am wondering whether in 5 years, whether we could look back, the same way we look back at the vote on the downtown parking garage, and think, “What folly.”