NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 14, 2013

Council to pick a new comrade tonight

The agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting includes the selection of a new councilor to replace Kathleen O’Connor Ives, and numerous City Hall insiders say the choice will be former councilor Steve Hutcheson.

Look at it this way: He has six years experience on the council, and he knows the issues and procedures. Hutcheson, an engineer with an MBA, is also well liked at City Hall.

There are seven candidates, now that onetime councilor Larry McCavitt has withdrawn (in part, because of a death in the family). It’s likely any of the seven would make a good councilor but Hutcheson would appear to be the seamless choice.

Another item on tonight’s agenda is a second reading of a much-diminished ordinance to create a Local Historic District.

Councilors tonight might also consider aspects of a demolition-delay measure and possible preservation protections for the downtown business district.

Members of the Harbor Commission have shaken up the waterfront-planning crowd by revealing they will be reviewing designs from several architects to double the size of the harbormaster’s headquarters on the east end of the municipal wharf.

The commission wants to offer more to boaters, like the vessel-friendly communities of Rockport and Marblehead, they said. Enhancements could include bathrooms, showers, lockers and perhaps classroom facilities.

Also, officials of the nearby Custom House Maritime Museum are interested in seeing if there is an opportunity for them to have a small amount of exhibit and/or marketing space.

Not for the first time, the harbor is emerging as a popular center for boaters. Harbormaster Paul Hogg registered about 1,450 vessels last year, and that does not include the growing number of craft tied up in Salisbury. An even larger number of vessels visited from other harbors.

The commission, in the view of Your Scribe, is actually providing an educational service: While the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority is consumed by land issues such as auto parking and condo development for its nearby property, the Harbor Commission is essentially putting up the tell-tales to say that those visiting by boat are also important to the economy and future of the city.

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