NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 26, 2012

Wondering about the elephant in the room as important decisions are made

(Continued)

The aging Karp is a very capable executive, but he isn’t talking about the future; his lieutenants here are reluctant to return phone calls.

But when this billion-dollar construction juggernaut does get rolling amid the improving economy, residents might want some strong laws on the books. (Newburyport Development possesses numerous parcels between, and including, the Black Cow and Michael’s Harborside.)

Put another way: What if the elephant were Donald Trump, the man who never encountered a microphone he did not want to speak into?

It’s likely city officials and residents would know more about what his company is planning, but with New England Development there has been silence.

With more info at hand, residents might stand up at a council meeting and say, “What kind of regulatory framework should we have so developers don’t dictate the look of the waterfront in coming years.”

The NRA might also consider the elephant in the room — or the elephant on the waterfront.

Have members talked to New England Development about the next decade? Will there be a market for shops, restaurants and condos on NRA property (soon to be sold to the developer) when the “elephant” outlines plans to develop properties?

What if New England Development itself bids on the NRA land? Are there enough legislative safeguards to ensure that the city can make private developers work for the good of the community?

It appears that the LHD ball has passed from one court to another: The discussion is no longer about OUR property rights (High Street, the neighborhoods) but THEIR (commercial developers) license to develop the riverfront the way they want to do it.

Pivotal moments await.

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The following meetings are scheduled this week and are open to the public:

Tonight

City Council, 7:30 p.m., City Council Chambers.

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