NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 10, 2014

New England Development says they are still considering hotel

Newburyport City Notebook
Dyke Hendrickson

---- — As city officials discuss planning issues relating to the downtown and the waterfront, New England Development continues to express an interest in building a hotel near the corner of Merrimac and Titcomb streets.

Scott Kelly, a vice president of development for the company, returned a phone call last week, and he said the corporation is still “considering a hotel of 80 rooms, plus or minus.”

Since the prospect of a hotel is a part of so many planning discussions, the fact that New England Development is continuing to explore the idea grabs attention.

Kelly said that the decision to build a hotel here would be arrived at through “an internal process” but that no paperwork has been executed with the city at this point. Nor did Kelly have anything to report on whether the company would be part of a public-private parking garage that is also part of the discussion about the downtown.

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On other municipal fronts, the local Board of Registrars will consider the residency of City Councilor Allison Heartquist at its next session on March 19.

This is a meeting, not a hearing, and board members are expected to discuss whether a formal hearing should be held on whether Heartquist actually lives at 21 53rd St. as she has formally stated.

Heartquist’s residency in Ward 1 has been challenged by Mike Ferrick, the opponent she defeated (650-343) in the November election.

He claims she lives in Ward 3 in a Market Street residence occupied by her parents, though the Board of Registrars’ voters list from 2013 shows her at 21 53rd St. as she claims.

Members of the Board of Registrars are E. Douglas Bolick, Brian Sullivan, Mary Zinck and city clerk Richard Jones. Jones has indicated he will limit his participation to assembling documents, so he remains clear of conflict-of-interest concerns.

It is not known if Sullivan will participate, as he has been in ill health in recent months. Also, it’s possible that Mayor Donna Holaday will name one more member in accordance with municipal law.

Ferrick insists he doesn’t want to serve on the council if Heartquist is ruled ineligible.

Meanwhile, numerous City Hall observers are asking why Ferrick is making this claim after the election. If he had knowledge of this irregularity prior to November as he has indicated, why not file his claim before the voting?

All this said, many local political veterans say this is one of the sharpest city councils in years.

Councilors, including the five new members, have been energetic in attending meetings and interacting with residents.

Committee chairpersons have called public forums to discuss matters about which residents care, such as the waterfront. Perhaps this is the council that will find solutions to the planning and development issues that have lingered for years.

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The following meetings have been scheduled for this week and are open to the public:

Tonight

Budget and Finance Committee of City Council, 7 p.m., City Hall

Master Plan Steering Committee, 4 p.m., City Hall

Zoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m., City Hall

River Valley Charter School Board of Trustees, 7 p.m., 2 Perry Way

Tuesday

Zoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m., City Council Chambers, City Hall



Community Preservation Committee, 7 p.m,,  City Hall auditorium

Wednesday

RAN Middle School Council, 7 a.m., 70 Low St.

Molin School Council, 1:45 p.m., 70 Low St.

Master Plan community meeting 6:30 p.m., City Hall auditorium

Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, 7 p.m., City Council Chamber, City Hall

Thursday

Disabilities Committee, 6 p.m., police conference room, 4 Green St.

River Valley Charter School Board of Trustees, 7 p.m., 2 Perry Way

Special Ed Advisory Committee, 7:30 p.m., public library

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Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-961-3149 or dhendrickson@newburyportnews.com.