, Newburyport, MA

January 7, 2013

Karp, Shanley, Lagasse are names making news

Newburyport City Notebook
Dyke Hendrickson

---- — When Your Scribe was being introduced to the wonders of journalism, my mentors (all now unemployed) stressed that “names make news.”

Here are a few names that have made local news in recent weeks:

Developer Stephen Karp has been talking with city officials about a possible hotel on the corner of Titcomb and Merrimac streets. Numerous plans for hotels on the waterfront have been shouted down over the years, but this week many local residents were saying, “It might be OK if he doesn’t try to put it on the river.” Merchants certainly want a hotel or motel in the downtown.

Plans for the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority to finalize its request for proposals for its 4.2 acres on the waterfront are being hampered by unfortunate personal circumstances. There was a death in the family of Chairman James Shanley. He is back at the helm, but now word has been received that the NRA’s lawyer, Carol Powers, was in a serious auto accident and could be hospitalized for a month or more. Since NRA officials say that much of their research relating to environmental and permitting matters is in the hands of Powers, the NRA likely will be moving slowly.

In addition, the NRA may be cowed in coming months by the Committee for an Open Waterfront (OK, the organization’s acronym is COW and members oppose the NRA’s plans). The group is headed by Buffy Heath, and two of its lead advocates are Joanie Purinton and Lon Hackmeister. This is a very capable duo. They were leaders of the team that raised close to $500,000 to preserve the Lower Green in Newbury. You’ve got to be good to organize the troops and raise that kind of money.

If the building that once housed Davis Auto Parts on Merrimac Street does become a restaurant-bar, well-known Realtor Jerry Lischke will likely have a “memorable” visit there. One of his first jobs — close to four decades ago — was as an assistant in that venerable structure.

The meeting of the City Council on Jan. 14 promises to be a stand-and-deliver event, as all eight residents who have volunteered to serve on the council have been invited to make a presentation , according to Council President Tom O’Brien. They are Paula Chambers, Larry Giunta, Steve Hutcheson, Larry McCavitt, Ralph Orlando, Richard Rothberg, Warren Russo and Mary Zinck. City officials say that a decision will be made that night, but Your Scribe wonders, Could anything at City Hall be that uncomplicated (to wit, listen, nod politely and vote)?

Mayor Donna Holaday suggested that the turnout for the next municipal election in November might draw more candidates than the last one. In November, 2011, all six ward councilors ran unopposed. Some City Hall insiders say that residents who support the proposed Local Historic District might be inspired to enter ward races. Councilor Bob Cronin, meanwhile, says that anti-LHDers could be equally inspired. “This sword could cut both ways,” he remarked.

Ann Lagasse, former titan in local real estate, has been named a trustee of Regis College in Weston. Lagasse, a Regis graduate in 1979, was co-founder and executive of Piper Properties Management Co. for two decades, and then was a principal at Newburyport Development until a few months ago. College officials say that Lagasse now is “managing Boston’s Seaport marina projects and developing an inn and mega-yacht marina in Boston’s North End.”

Cliff Goudey, a member of the Waterfront Trust, is back from the North Carolina coast where the company he’s a senior engineer with, Resolute Marine Energy, was testing hardware designed to harness tides to produce energy. He reports that the local company’s research is progressing well.

Nancy Batista-Caswell might have set a record of sorts by opening two restaurants on State Street within three years. She just moved her Ceia to the former site of the Rockfish, and in coming weeks will open Brine in the old Ceia location. That’s fast work for any entrepreneur, and especially remarkable since she is just 28.


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


Joint Committee of the Whole School Committee, 5:30 p.m., high school, room 118.

School Committee, 6:30 p.m., high school, room 118.

Waterfront Trust, 7 p.m., police conference room, 4 Green St.

School Committee organizational meeting, 7 p.m., high school, room 118.


River Valley Charter School Committee, 6 p.m., 2 Perry Way.

Highland Cemetery Commission, 7 p.m., library, 94 State St.

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

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


Licensing Commission, 7 p.m., police conference room, 4 Green St.


Disabilities Commission, 6 p.m., Nock Middle School offices.

Fruit Street Historic District Commission, 7 p.m., City Hall, second floor conference room.


Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-462-6666, ext. 3226 or at