NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 1, 2013

NRA gets grant for much-awaited test borings on waterfront

(Continued)

Saturday’s session underscored the prospect that if completed, the number of parking spaces will fall from 336 to 172 (that is the conservative estimate).

While the 70,000-square-foot project is being built, the area will be awash in heavy equipment and tons of building materials. Parking will be severely compromised.

Can merchants and restaurant owners survive one summer and possibly more if two of the city’s largest lots are on the disabled list?

And if the Ale House (442 seats) is built at the corner of Green and Merrimac streets, will there be any parking for those coming into the city for a riverfront meal or a ride on the whale watching boat?

The staging area for the roundabout at Moseley Woods has produced so much heavy equipment and building materials that it could pass for Omaha Beach. Construction on the river would involve much more.

But downtown merchants have not been heard about how they feel about the prospect of several years of chaos in the (once) 336-space parking lots near the water.

(Aside No. 1: Waterfront watcher Bill Harris recently suggested that a parking level be added to the Green Street lot — under street level.

Aside No. 2: Mayor Donna Holaday has been peppered with complaints about the inconvenience of the roundabout construction, but she indicates that a “return to normalcy” (Warren Harding’s term) is close now that the underground drainage work is completed. Such local issues do arouse the populace, but remember, it was a free, $1 million project funded by the state.)

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Consultant Don Powers, who runs Union Studio, the firm that created the NRA plan for the central waterfront, appears to be taking the project as a personal challenge.

He remarked that architects around the country are watching to see whether the city will “enhance” its downtown with new construction or leave it as public parking lots.

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