, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 18, 2014

Leaders huddle over NRA

Councilors call for board to dissolve

NEWBURYPORT — City officials say they will be meeting this week with the legal team that acts as their city solicitor to discuss the future of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority.

The past week has been a whirlwind for the 54-year-old NRA, a five-member board charged with redeveloping the city’s waterfront property.

Yesterday, the term of member John Morris expired, and he is not seeking reappointment. Two other members, James Shanley and Patty Dorfman, last week resigned from the troubled panel, and the added departure of Morris suggests that the board no longer can produce a majority.

The resignations stem from what Shanley and Dorfman described as disagreements with the mayor over the direction of the NRA’s plans for its property.

Mayor Donna Holaday yesterday said, “We need to meet with our legal team (Kopelman & Paige, Boston) before we are ready to make any comments. This is a very complex situation and cannot be rushed.”

Holaday last week suggested the board dissolve itself. That sentiment is shared by at least some members of the City Council.

Tom O’Brien, president of the City Council, yesterday said, “I would be in favor of dissolving. I would think you would have to appoint members that have that view to dissolve and have them vote to do that.”

Robert Cronin, who chairs the Rules Committee of the City Council, said, “I believe the NRA has had its time and run its course. It did some remarkable things to make us what we are today. That said, their mission is over and they should be dissolved. How that is accomplished has to be determined but needs to happen.”

But that option might not be possible now if a majority of three members cannot be produced. A lack of voting power adds complexity to a rapidly changing scenario.

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