BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority has a new leader
Chairman James Shanley last night stepped aside from the leadership post after four years.
Shanley will remain on the five-person board, but members elected Tom Salemi as the new chairman. John Morris was re-elected as vice chairman.
Shanley said he was pleased with the development, and other members concurred in the change.
“I have enjoyed being chairman, and I am honored to have served,” Shanley said. “I am proud of the work we have done.
“But it is time-consuming and I have some career changes ahead of me. This is a good time.”
Salemi and Morris both praised Shanley for his work, with Salemi adding his predecessor had done a commendable job and had been a valuable leader.
Members indicated they have elections about this time every year. The change means other board members will step up to continue the significant effort Shanley has made, said Salemi, who intends to keep the NRA moving forward.
“As a board, we agree on our direction,” said Salemi, a professional writer who was named to the board a year ago.
The NRA is in the process of researching options to develop the 4.2 acres it owns on the riverfront.
It is considering a concept produced by Union Studio, a Providence consulting firm that the board hired to provide an architectural vision for the open land.
The Union concept calls for two commercial buildings totaling about 70,000 square feet that would offer shops, restrooms, restaurants and 30 to 35 condominium units that would generate revenue to create and maintain a park.
NRA members insist this is just a concept and they say they welcome input from the public.
On a related matter, leaders of the Committee for an Open Waterfront said they are “fine-tuning” a professionally produced alternative plan that calls for a park — and no buildings.
COW spokesmen would not give a specific date for when they would reveal their plans, but they said it will be made public in the coming weeks.
The NRA has given no date as to when it will be ready to put forth a Request for Proposals that would go to developers. Members say tests, studies and analysis of the waterfront first must be completed.