, Newburyport, MA

March 4, 2013

Plenty of places due for attention in coming months

Newburyport City Notebook
Dyke Hendrickson

---- — Names (of people) make news, but so do names of places. The following are locales that likely will be part of municipal discussion in coming months:

Brown School: Mayor Donna Holaday this week said she wants her team to study whether this school could be converted to affordable housing when it is closed. Municipal leaders are seeking $50,000 for a “re-use feasibility study” from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC).

National Grid parcel: The waterfront property sits on prime land on the river, and city officials are always pondering how it could be used if it becomes available. But remediation of the soil at the site could be cumbersome — and expensive.

The Bartlet Mall: Municipal leaders would like to see the fountain in the middle of the Frog Pond repaired and embellished. Those on the Mall Commission have requested $15,400 from the CPC to enable them to proceed.

Cashman Park: The multi-purpose riverside park this spring is scheduled to have major state-funded improvements to the fishing dock. State officials say it is the busiest public boat launch in the commonwealth.

War Memorial Stadium: This well-known edifice at the high school needs improvements, and citizen letters seeking support are read at City Council meetings from time to time. Last year, however, the CPC turned aside advocates’ request for $100,000.

South jetty: Who knew that an inert collection of stone could generate $8 million in federal funds? Members of the Merrimack River Beach Authority are trying to sidestep the mating demands of the nesting plovers (to start April 1) by explaining that much of the coming work would be done through use of barges and would not affect the birds. The jetty is being rebuilt in an effort to control beachside erosion.

Newburyport Ale House: Plans for the proposed restaurant near the intersection of Green and Merrimac streets have been scaled back from 591 seats to 442. That revision could quiet some critics who are concerned about parking. Discussions of parking here, like the rise and fall of the tides, are continuing, but plans to build a parking garage are no longer on the table.

Spofford roundabout: Work is scheduled to start this spring on the roundabout (not rotary!) at the intersection of Spofford and Merrimac streets. This is good because once the I-95 bridge gets going with its assorted set of inconveniences, that part of town is going to need a smooth traffic flow.

Route 1 rotary: City and state officials frequently discuss new residential and/or commercial development at the rotary near the train station and perhaps something will happen this spring since the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has re-advertised 11 acres near Parker Street. Note: Only about half of that acreage can be built upon, owing to wetlands and other issues.

Middle Street Foods: Yes, this twice-closed venue is returning in coming weeks. Workers are cleaning and preparing for the third incarnation of the restaurant.

Screening Room: Numerous film aficionados have expressed concern that the managers of 99-seat movie theater are at a crossroads in deciding whether they will invest in new technology that will enable them to show films in the future. Many have talked about a fundraiser. Your Scribe wonders, would co-owner Andrew Mungo be interested?


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


Joint education subcommittee of the whole School Committee, 5:30 p.m., room 118, high school.

School Committee, 6:30 p.m., room 118, high school.

Public Utilities Committee and the Committee of the Whole, 7 p.m., City Council Chambers.


Moseley Woods Commission, 6:30 p.m., police conference room, 4 Green St.


Senior Center Building Committee, 5 p.m., mayor’s conference room, City Hall.

Library Board of Trustees, 5:15 p.m., library.

Planning Board, 7 p.m., City Council Chambers.


Committee for Diversity and Tolerance, 4 p.m., City Hall.

Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, 7 p.m., library.

Open Space Committee, 7 p.m., police conference room, 4 Green St.


Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be contacted at 978-482-6666, ext. 3226 or