NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 1, 2013

NRA gets grant for much-awaited test borings on waterfront

The central waterfront has been discussed for decades, and now a new question for over-the-coffee-cup conversation has arrived: What will the test borings show?

Members of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority Saturday revealed they have received a grant from MassDevelopment, and now will move forward with the borings, which are being taken to determine whether soil on the NRA’s 4.2 riverfront acres is appropriate for construction.

This is a crucial moment. If borings show that underground parking for residential units (about 60 vehicles) is not feasible, then the current proposal developed by Union Studio cannot be carried out as planned.

If the borings are OK, then the development of a Request for Proposals will move forward.

The central waterfront has hosted many filthy industries over the years, including a rail center and a coal-storage business.

It is mostly fill and debris, but even experts don’t know what to expect.

Question to Joe Brown, member of the Waterfront Trust: “What will the borings show?” Answer: “I don’t know.”

Question to Joe Teixeira, chairman of the Conservation Commission: “What will the borings show?” Answer: “I don’t know.”

NRA officials say that borings on both the east and west parking lots will start in several weeks. The results could frame the next steps in this debate.

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Merchants and business professionals have not had much to say about the proposed NRA plan.

When municipal leaders were considering a parking garage in the Green Street lot years ago, numerous small business owners came forth to oppose the plan.

They feared that chaos created by the construction would discourage shoppers and that they would lose business for months, if not years.

Such opposition has not been heard about the NRA plan, though it has been in the public domain for at least a year.

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