NEWBURYPORT — Mayoral candidate Dick Sullivan Jr. has criticized the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority for “allowing itself to be used as an arm of Mayor Holaday’s re-election campaign” by disseminating a graphic brochure depicting the NRA’s tentative plan for the central waterfront.
Holaday fired back, denying Sullivan’s accusations and calling his statements “grossly inaccurate and divisive.” She also said that the current NRA plan isn’t in sync with her position — she has advocated for a smaller-scale design that eliminates some key aspects of the NRA plan, including high-end residential condominiums and an underground parking garage.
The NRA’s development plan has become a central issue in the mayoral campaign. Four of the five NRA members are appointed by the mayor, and one member is appointed by the governor. Sullivan has called for the NRA to disband if it continues to advocate for developing its land.
The 8-by-11-inch color “postcard” was received by several thousand households over the weekend. It could also be found on the counters of some local stores and businesses.
The four-color cards depicted two artist’s renderings of the NRA’s proposed development on the 4.2 acres it owns along the river. It was titled “Finally, a sound plan that works for Newburyport.” It explained the approach and tentative vision of the NRA. The communication included points that focused on its reasons for developing the two parcels, now used as parking lots.
Sullivan, who is running for mayor in the Nov. 5 election, suggested that several NRA members are “active contributors and supporters of the mayor’s re-election campaign.” Three NRA members — Patricia Dorfman, John Morris, and James Shanley — made financial contributions to the mayor’s campaign fund.
“I find it deeply offensive that the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority has allowed itself to be used as an arm of Mayor Holaday’s re-election campaign,” said Sullivan in a press release, “by mailing what I consider to be a campaign brochure supportive of the mayor’s effort to develop the central waterfront.