, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 18, 2013

A matter of aesthetics

Officials debate if trash tower is right for town green


While Baum argued her project wouldn’t be “an eyesore,” Selectman Chuck Bear said the idea of using “trash” for art simply turns a lot of people off. Bear said some residents have suggested that the town dump might be a better spot for the tower. Others have called for a Town Meeting vote on the proposal.

Selectman Michael Bulgaris said he has heard from about 20 people who were “very critical” of the plan. The feeling was that a trash sculpture was not the right fit for the historic land.

But Baum said she also has heard from people supportive of the idea.

Selectman David Mountain said the discussion reflects an ongoing tension in town between a sentimental attachment to “an imagined past” and the push for progress. In reality, both the Upper and Lower Greens have changed considerably from when the land first welcomed the founding settlers to town, he said.

“I think we have to realize that the green is not frozen in time,” Mountain said, while at the same time acknowledging, “History is very important to the residents.”

Ultimately, the board asked Baum to consider other possible locations for her trash tower, including a spot near Old Town Hill, at the town recreation field or in front of Town Hall.

Selectmen have been wrestling lately with requests for use of town properties.

Also last week, the Triton Music Parents Organization sought approval to hang a banner on the backstop on the Upper Green advertising the group’s upcoming fundraiser, “Finnegan’s Wake.” The group’s request was put on hold.

Selectmen Chairman Joe Story reminded his colleagues that in previous years, banners hanging on the backstop have frequently become “unsightly.” The board agreed that guidelines need to be established on what types of banners may be hung and by which types of sponsoring organizations. Bulgaris suggested purchasing an electronic town message board to promote town events instead.

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