, Newburyport, MA


November 11, 2013

Ruminating on the post-election results

Another municipal election is over, and here are a few names and numbers that still resonate:

The central waterfront was one of the key issues, and several newcomers to the City Council appear to support some form of development, though not necessarily private.

Jared Eigerman, who won in Ward 2, indicated he would review plans for limited activity, and Charlie Tontar, the new Ward 4 councilor, said he favors getting vehicles off the riverfront because they emit damaging liquids. He would consider new ideas. At-large Councilor Bruce Vogel says he wants to achieve consensus.

Incumbent Councilors Allison Heartquist, Ed Cameron and Barry Connell have indicated they would be willing to look at new approaches with “some” construction, such as a visitor center and restrooms.

So it appears that if Mayor Donna Holaday does want to work with the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority regarding its 4.2 acres as she indicated, there will be councilors who will listen to new ideas.

City Councilor Ari Herzog had an interesting thought after the election: Why not get numerous stakeholders to discuss the future of the waterfront, including the mayor, City Council, NRA, Waterfront Trust, Harbor Commission and various zoning luminaries?

As some councilors have privately complained, the City Council has had almost no input this time ’round as to what will happen to the historic riverfront.

The thinking has been that the NRA has the “authority” to make plans on the waterfront, but the huge amount of energy put forth in the recent election shows that many different constituencies want to be part of the planning.

And since not one of the two dozen candidates for mayor and/or council favor the current NRA plan, it appears a change of approach will be considered.

Before the sun sets on the 2013 council, let’s note that Councilor Tom Jones attended every scheduled council meeting for the past eight years. He was defeated by Tontar but flew in from a construction job in Oklahoma to hold signs on the last day.

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