NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 1, 2013

NRA changes plan

Opposition remains as adjusted waterfront proposal is unveiled

(Continued)

The revised plan was presented by Don Powers, a principal in Union Studio, a consulting and architectural firm in Providence.

Powers had presented here twice in the past, and on Saturday said, “This plan remains true to our earlier outline, which is to improve the park experience without commercializing the waterfront.”

After an illustrated presentation by Powers, NRA Chairman Tom Salemi invited the crowd of about 140 out to the parking lot where markers had been set up to demonstrate where the buildings will placed, and how large they will be.

But some opponents of the NRA plan objected to leaving the theater, stating they wanted officials to answer specific questions about the new plan.

A battle of wills ensued between emotional opponents and determined NRA board members. Eventually, questions were permitted and Powers answered queries both in the theater and, later, outside in the parking lot.

NRA members answered questions as well.

One theme that Powers repeated is that the city has the opportunity to improve the waterfront and to make better use of land that is serving “only” as parking lots.

He said that it would cost between $3.5 million and $5 million to expand and enhance a park on the riverfront.

Powers repeated Union’s tentative outline that calls for a commercial project including shops, a restaurant and residences to provide the capital to develop a park.

The city could derive enough money on such a project to invest it in a new park complex, he said.

Consultant Barry Abramson later said that the city could realize about $300,000 per year in tax revenue from such a private development. It might cost about $50,000 to maintain the park, he estimated.

The NRA’s land consists of about 182,000 square feet and the “footprint” of the three buildings would be about 24,000 square feet, officials said.

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