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June 17, 2013

Election ballot grows more crowded

(Continued)

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Inappropriate statement from Your Scribe: How about the Community Preservation Committee, via the City Council, buys “open space” from the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority?

The CPC is recommending that $50,000 be put aside to purchase open space.

This is a predictable financial ritual because most citizens believe in earmarking money to purchase open, recreational land when it becomes available.

But the most attractive open space in the city is currently owned by the NRA.

A recent memo from NRA consultant Barry Abramson noted that the NRA’s 4.2 acres on the riverfront consists of about 182,000 square feet.

An architect-rendered outline of a tentative NRA plan calls for two three-story commercial buildings to be built on that land. The exact footprint has not been estimated; but if this game plan is pursued, some unoccupied land will disappear.

Could “open-space money” be earmarked for that acreage on the river?

Just kidding. But it does appear odd that the CPC is salting away cash for the day attractive recreational land becomes available, and the NRA, a quasi-municipal agency itself, is making plans to build on open space.

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The online petition to provide support for a new playground and open space for the Brown School property acquired close to 400 signatures in just two days, according to organizers.

In the old days, it would have taken weeks to acquire that many. They used to call it going door-to-door, or standing in the parking lot of local supermarkets.

Now an appealing local issue can gain palpable support in just hours.

It’s sometimes said that political apathy stands in the way of municipal progress. But not this time.

Residents of the tightly packed South End are intent on replacing the old park, created in 1997. They are driving to get a commitment from municipal leaders that open space and a sector for playground structures will be saved if the building is turned into affordable housing, or a similar use.

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