Casual observers of local government might presume that city governance is administered solely by a full-time organization featuring Mayor Donna Holaday, elected officials and professional staff.
But much of the municipality’s project-by-project activity is generated by volunteer boards that are in charge of overseeing, and sometimes passing judgment on, city progress.
Board members are unpaid, and their contributions are often unrecognized.
But Your Scribe frequently observes their work at meetings, and believes that they deserve a nod of recognition.
So here is a rundown of some of the most active non-school boards and commissions that operate here, with a notation of what issues they will be addressing in 2014:
Bartlet Mall Commission -- members are Andrew Simpson, Ellen Hanick, Sadie Cathcart and Walt Thompson. The group is trying to clean and improve the Frog Pond at the mall.
Board of Health -- members are Dr. Susan Beluk, Dr. Robin Blair and Patricia Lawrence. The board in 2014 will be pursuing its initiative of diminishing the use and purchase of tobacco. Also, members are monitoring the seasonal presence of insects that impart disease.
Commission for Diversity and Tolerance - members are Susan Brown, Eduardo Calapiz, Beth Raucci, Christian Farren, Alexa Looker, Mark Murray, Avi Poupko, Donna Scott, Kathleen Shaw, Carol Thompson, Hannah Wilson and Ken Wilson. The board “works toward the elimination of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and hate in our community.”
Conservation Commission -- members are Joe Teixeira, chairman, Steven Moore, Paul Healy, Mary Casey, Doug Muir, Dan Warchol and James O’Brien. The commission will continue to monitor the health of marshes, rivers and ocean, and also work to limit the impact of erosion on the beaches of Plum Island.
Community Preservation Committee -- members are Judith Grohe, chairman, Mike Dissette, Cindy Zabriskie, Paul Healy, Robert Uhlig, Margaret Welch, Mary Louise Gagnon, Jane Healey and Don Little. This panel passes judgment on applications for funding from organizations pursuing projects relating to history, recreation, open space and affordable housing. This year the board aggregated $994,453 for potential disbursement, a figure that includes a contribution from the state.
Harbor Commission -- members are Brad Duffin, chairman, Steven Hines, James Knapp, Robert Dow, Andrew Casson, Justin Dutcher, Paul Rooney Jr., Daniel May, and Paul Dahn. This board will be working to enlarge the harbormaster’s headquarters.
Historical Commission -- members are Linda Smiley, chairwoman, Margaret Welch, Ned McGrath, Bill Todd, Stephen Dodge, Sarah White and Malcolm Carnwarth. In the coming year, it is likely that this panel will review plans for the Merrimac Ale House, a proposed bar-and-restaurant at the intersection of Merrimac and Green streets.
Licensing Board -- members are Brad Duffin, chairman, Joseph Devlin, Craig Holt, Richard Sharp and Donald Zabriskie. This board will be overseeing the approval of licenses for those wishing to sell alcohol in the community. They also approve vendor licenses.
Municipal Retirement Board -- members are William Squillace, ex-officio, Joseph Spaulding, Paula Fowler, Alexander Kravchuk and John Moak. Members will make decisions on the eligibility of retirees, and the investment of board assets.
Newburyport Redevelopment Authority -- members are Tom Salemi, chairman, Adam Guild, John Morris, Patricia Dorfman and James Shanley. The board is developing plans for 4.2 acres on the waterfront, and members say they will work with elected city officials on feasible approaches.
Parks Commission -- members are Robert Uhlig, chairman, Robin Reath-Graves, Sean Perkins, Karen Popken and Steve Sawyer. This board oversees the administration and maintenance of the city’s parks system, which includes close to 17 locations.
Planning Board -- members are Dan Bowie, chair, Jim McCarthy, Bonnie Sontag, Henry Coo, Sue Grolnic, Don Walters, Paul Dahn, Noah Luskin and Cynthia Zabriskie. This board will be involved in the updating of the city’s general zoning plan. In addition, it might be in the position of passing judgment on a proposed 86-room hotel near the corner of Merrimac and Titcomb streets.
Sewer Commission -- members are David Hanion, Bob Cook and John Tomasz. This team will be monitoring the progress of the community’s new sewage treatment plan.
Tree Commission -- members are Ed Taylor, chairman, Dave Dylewski, Paul Harrington, Sheila Taintor, Paul Bevilacqua, Byron Getchell and Hugh Kelleher. The commission is dedicated to acquiring and planting more trees in the city.
Water Commission -- members are E. Larry Kelly, Erford Fowler, Roger Jones and John Tomasz. Both the water and sewer commissions could be active in dealing with problems that have been identified with the water and sewer system on Plum Island.
Waterfront Trust -- members are Doug Locy, chairman, Joseph Brown, Scott Sutherland, Josiah Morrill and Jody Fraser. The Trust manages Waterfront Park, the 4.4 park on the central waterfront.
Zoning Board of Appeals -- members are Ed Ramsdell, chairman, Rob Ciampitti, Duncan LeBay, Jamie Pennington, Howard Snyder, Jared Eigerman and Richard Goulet. The board will address requests by homeowners and/builders who are seeking approval to initiate construction of projects whose metrics might not coincide with municipal building regulations.
The following meetings are scheduled for this week and are open to the public:
Housing Authority, 5 p.m., 25 Temple St.
Subcommittee of the Whole School Committee, 5:30, room 118, Newburyport High School
School Committee, 6:30 p.m., room 118, Newburyport High School
River Valley Charter School, 7 p.m., 2 Perry Way
Bartlet Mall Commission, 6 p.m., public library
Harbor Commission, 7 p.m., City Council chambers, City Hall
Water Commission, 4:30 p.m., 115 Water St.
Sewer Commission, 6 p.m., 115 Water St.
Retirement Board, 9 a.m,, City Hall
School Building Committee, 6:30 p.m., mayor’s conference room, City Hall
Board of Health, 7 p.m., police conference room, 4 Green St.
Historical Commission, 7:30 p.m., City Council Chambers, City Hall
Affordable Housing Trust, 10 a.m., site not available
Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-462-6666, ext. 3226 or at email@example.com.