Another session to discuss the proposed Local Historic District will be held tonight at 7 in City Hall Auditorium.
Actually, the term "discuss" doesn't quite fit, since proponents and opponents at such gatherings don't engage in much give and take.
Members of the Local Historic District Study Committee use their public moments to try to explain what a proposed ordinance would mean.
Those opposing a new measure, which has not been finalized, often approach the speaker's mike to imply that committee members are trying to create what they call "just another layer of government."
The issue will be decided by the City Council, not by a vote of the city's residents. But the dialogue continues.
Tonight's format will feature a breakdown into discussion units so that questions can be asked in a smaller forum.
That said, both sides appear to be far apart on what they see as the future of an LHD.
A thought about proponents:
The LHD committee might consider a more egalitarian approach. To wit, the level of discussion appears to be centered around grand mansions on High Street, but a major political component here is the livelihoods of those who work in the city.
For instance, the committee has said that a decision on a building review has to be completed in 60 days.
Two months is an eternity for a contractor in a region like this where the building season is so short.
Indeed, Your Scribe knows a carpenter who fears that this ordinance could create delays that could kill projects. He is strongly opposed — and he talks to the councilor in his ward.
On the same subject, the committee might consider being more inclusive in the makeup of the commission. It's been said that the commission would consist of architects and historians and Realtors and other white-collar types.
But how about a contractor? How about a carpenter? These craftspeople know the building trades.
A thought about opponents:
Those who oppose the measure might consider a middle course, such as suggesting that an LHD encompass only the commercial downtown. An LHD could be extended to High Street and the residential neighborhoods later.
True, it's hard to ignore the demolishing of that historic house on Little's Lane in Newbury last week.
But discussing residential issues is troublesome here, in part because some community leaders have "histories" in dealing with authorities on the issue of "I can do what I want with my property."
So why not talk about commercial matters in the downtown, and the need to have an ordinance ready when the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority and Stephen Karp's Newburyport Development come forth with plans on the waterfront?
If both sides could find a common ground, perhaps the study committee would consider adding opponents like Lyndi Lanphear and Dick Hordon to their ranks, and attempt to work together. Just an idea.
Going back in history, it is recalled that when FDR added Republicans to his first cabinet, many of the initiatives that the voters had sought were achieved.
Perhaps the existence of a "mixed" panel would engender cooperation.
On the subject of the building on the waterfront, members of the NRA are in Boston today to begin talks with consultants and MassDevelopment on the course of its initiative.
The preparation to develop the NRA's 4.2 acres appears to be accelerating.
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Meetings this week
River Valley Charter School Development Committee, 11 a.m., 2 Perry Way
Public Utilities Committee of the Whole, 6:30 p.m., Wastewater Treatment Plant, 115 Water St.
Local Historic District Committee Study Committee, 7 p.m., City Hall Auditorium
Stormwater Advisory Committee, 1 p.m., City Hall Auditorium
Community Preservation Committee, 7 p.m., police conference room, 4 Green St.
Zoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m., City Hall Auditorium
Public Safety Committee, 7:15 p.m., City Council chambers
City Council, 7:30 p.m., City Council chambers
School Building Committee, 6:30 p.m., mayor's conference room, City Hall
Ordinance Review Committee, 5:30 p.m., City Hall
Planning and Development Committee, 7 p.m., City Council chambers
Finance Subcommittee of School Committee, 8:30 a.m., 70 Low St.
River Valley charter School, 8:30 a.m., 2 Perry Way
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Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-462-6666, ext. 3226, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.