, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 4, 2014

Public meeting called for waterfront plans

Chairman resists call to dissolve board

NEWBURYPORT — City officials have scheduled what might be called a central waterfront summit for May 10 in an effort to develop consensus on how to utilize the 4.2 acres that the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority owns along the river.

“We’d like residents to be neutral when we meet,” said Mayor Donna Holaday at a meeting of the Waterfront Trust Wednesday night. “No buttons, no banners, no bumper stickers.

“It’s important that we work cooperatively as we move forward.”

The open meeting is being called a charrette, defined as “a final, intensive effort to finish a project, especially an architectural design project, before a deadline.”

Municipal leaders and residents will be invited to discuss the much-discussed riverfront and the meeting will include 10 tables of about 10 people at each — although all who attend will have the opportunity to participate.

Each facilitator will focus on a given subject, such as a visitor center or a public park.

The event is tentatively scheduled for Saturday morning, May 10, in the hall of Central Congregational Church at 14 Titcomb St.

Holaday said that planning for the future has been complicated by the fact that the NRA, which now owns the land, does not have a quorum and thus cannot take action.

There are three openings on the five-member panel. Holaday has the authority to name two, and the governor holds the appointment power for the third.

She said she has received interest from five individuals who want to serve on the NRA, and she is seeking more candidates. One interview is scheduled for next week.

It is unclear what the role of the NRA will be. Holaday and other municipal leaders have said the NRA should begin taking steps to dissolve itself. The Waterfront Trust plans to discuss how the dissolution of the NRA would affect contracts and agreements between the two organizations, whose land abuts each other.

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