NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 25, 2013

Chances of compromise looking more hopeful in NRA talks

Gallivanting, here are some thoughts from 35,000 feet:

The ascension of Tom Salemi to the chairmanship of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority might enable the words of “compromise” and “cooperation” to actually become part of the discussion.

Mayor Donna Holaday inserted herself in the debate about use of the NRA’s 4.2 riverfront acres recently by calling for the two sides in the development debate to try to find a workable solution.

A week later Salemi was elected by his peers to serve as chair, replacing James Shanley, the former councilor who served as NRA chief for four years.

Salemi is a former newspaperman, so ostensibly he appreciates that there are two sides to every story. He supports the NRA’s position on commercial development to pay for a park but appears to be willing to listen.

Though the NRA and the Committee for an Open Waterfront are far from agreement, there might be a time when they will have to work together.

Government permits for two aspects of any plan, soil quality and FEMA elevation requirements, will not be easily obtained.

It might take cooperation just to develop a park there.

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On the subject of land use, the Planning Board did some effective negotiating in the development of Oleo Woods, the 26-unit subdivision off Storey Avenue.

The board was able to convince the developer to bunch the houses, thus creating open space near the Little River.

The handsome, one-family houses are listed at close to $500,000 and almost all have been sold, or are under contract.

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And back to the waterfront: Brad Duffin, chair of the Harbor Commission, is moving forward with plans to expand the harbormaster’s office on the boardwalk behind the Custom House Maritime Museum. He has sketches from three architects.

The commission wants to double the size of the structure, and this is new to Your Scribe, add a story — possibly a glassed-in second floor.

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