The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority has been increasingly leaning on professionals at City Hall to move forward its plans to develop a park and two commercial buildings on the riverfront.
NRA officials say that Planning Director Andy Port and senior project manager Geordie Vining have been providing logistical support on matters involved in preparing a Request for Proposals, which would include Chapter 91 issues (uses of waterfront), as well as concerns about soil quality, flood plain guidelines and adequate parking.
Mayor Donna Holaday,too, is taking an increased interest. NRA members say Holaday will appear at the next regular meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 30, to discuss facts and dispel “misinformation” that NRA leaders say is being dispensed.
The Committee for an Open Waterfront, meanwhile, is also reaching out for white-collar reinforcement.
COW spokespeople said several weeks ago that they will produce an alternate plan for the 4.2 acres. That plan is currently being created by two landscape architects, Jamie Purinton and Matthew Potteige. Purinton is the daughter of COW leader Joanie Purinton and grew up in the area.
Jamie Purinton, a landscape architect based in the Hudson Valley, and Potteiger, a professor of landscape architecture at State University of New York, Syracuse, are co-authors of “Landscape Narratives: Design Practices for Telling Stories” (John Wiley and Sons, Inc. 1998).
They say they have collaborated on a number of public projects, including a wayfinding/streetscape project for Adams, N.Y.; a streetscape marketplace in Salisbury, Conn.; and a series of public waterfront spaces along Newtown Creek in New York City.
No publication date for their plan has been announced, but Jamie Purinton said a key theme will be an emphasis on all park, no buildings.
On the topic of the waterfront, Cliff Goudey is leaving the Waterfront Trust after nine years. Chairman Doug Locy said the panel would like to hear from residents who would be interested in replacing him. Resumes can be sent to City Hall, in care of the mayor.
Municipal government doesn’t have a position of “speaker of the house,” of course, but at last week’s City Council meeting, Councilor Ari Herzog emerged as “speaker of the council chambers.”
A tech team had installed a new audio and visual system in City Hall to broadcast municipal meetings, and it hadn’t quite been finalized by the start of the meeting.
Herzog’s mike was evidently the only one working, so those viewing at home had a limited number of council voices to hear that night.
Tough getting an interview: Your Scribe has interviewed the great (the late Sen. Ed Muskie, tennis star Chris Evert) and the near great (singer Bobby Rydell, congressional aspirant Bill Hudak). But I have been unable to get Black Cow restaurateur Joe Leone or retiring fire Chief Steve Cutter to sit down for the proverbial Q and A.
A matter before the Historical Commission last week amplified the challenges of preservation. New owners of a small single-family house at 17 Ship St. want to demolish the structure, which commissioners estimate was built about 1750. However, city records put it at 1800.
One neighbor said it was a fire hazard and an eyesore; two other neighbors (architects Ray Dodge and Linda Miller) said it could and should be saved.
The commission declined to approve a demolition and instead ordered a demo delay of one year. The owners must be disappointed, but do we have a case here of “buyer beware?”
Trenchant quote from the commission: “The new owners paid $165,000, which is about half of what a house costs here. Can’t the difference be put into preserving the house?”
Meanwhile, architect Scott M. Brown received a permit to move a brick building (circa 1790) at 2 Mechanics Court (off Merrimac Street, near the Clipper City Rail Trail) so that he can put in eight to 10 condo units.
It appears it takes work to be a historic city.
Members of the Historical Committee are Chairwoman Linda Smiley, Tom Kolterjahn, Margaret Welch, Ned McGrath, Bill Todd and Steve Dodge.
The following meetings are scheduled this week and open to the public:
School Building Committee Selection Subcommittee, 4:30 p.m., school business office, 70 Low St.
Communication Subcommittee of the Whole School Committee, 5:30 p.m., room 118, Newburyport High School, 241 High St.
School Committee, 6:30 p.m., room 118, high school
Community Preservation Committee, 7 p.m., Police Department conference room, 4 Green St.
Zoning Board of Appeals, 7 p.m., City Council Chambers, 60 Pleasant St.
Beach Management Committee, 1:30 p.m., City Hall conference room
Newburyport Housing Authority, 5 p.m., 125 Temple St.
Board of Water Commissioners, 5:30 p.m., 16A Perry Way
School Committee retreat, 6 p.m., high school library
Affordable Housing Commission, 6:30 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 email@example.com.