, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 10, 2012

Discussion of NRA proposals for waterfront development this week

The end of the year is approaching, but two municipal issues that have been active the entire year are still with us.

On Wednesday, the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority is scheduled to discuss its Request for Proposals (RFP) that the organization will be extending to developers.

Its initiative calls for construction of two commercial buildings on the 4.2 acres it controls on the riverfront.

Members of the NRA have emerged, in movie terms, as “executive producers” of this proposed project. They are slated to chose a developer, approve the plans, supervise the sale or lease of the property and then behold the product.

The stakes here are high: This is city property and the board is made up five part-time board members without known construction-management experience.

Members of the NRA, which is being aided by MassDevelopment, are James Shanley, chairman, Patty Dorfman, Adam Guild, John Morris and Tom Salemi.

(An aside: It still isn’t clear whether the NRA will sell the land or lease it.)

Another key municipal issue, the proposed ordinance to create a Local Historic District, is scheduled to be voted on by the 11-member City Council tonight.

Last week’s joint committee meetings were unique because it was the first time the elected representatives (save Katy O’Connor Ives) had publicly declared their views.

Councilors against the LHD, as proposed by the LHD Study Committee, are Bob Cronin, Brian Derrivan, Tom Jones, Tom O’Brien and Dick Sullivan Jr.

Since it takes eight affirmative votes to pass the LHD, it appears the measure will fail.

Jones, a contractor, provided a telling anecdote as he expressed his opposition. At the recent session, he said, “(As a builder) I had an awful experience with (preservation) officials in Somerville. They were very hard to deal with.

“I did a lot of my work before anyone from the historic district knew about it.”

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