NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 10, 2013

Council gives unanimous approval to Heritage Park

(Continued)

The sticking point for many of the councilors was what would happen if the site were more contaminated than expected. A condition included in a non-binding memorandum of understanding between Kezer and Louis Lavoie, the trustee of the Water Street Realty Trust that owns the land, said the city would take responsibility for all cleanup, and several councilors took issue to that.

Previously the Finance and Ordinance committees had passed their recommendations with conditions that the city only accept the land if it were found to be clean or if non-city funds could be secured for cleanup.

Councilors debated the issue for hours, but they ultimately came around after Councilor Bob Lavoie explained that he and Councilor Allen Neale had gone over the memorandum of understanding , worked out some changes with all parties involved and did their best to ensure the city could get out from under the agreement if there were any surprises. Kezer also emphasized that the memorandum was non-binding and was more of a supporting document to show the state that the city and the private owner were on the same page.

Neale also pointed out right before the vote that the city has a $376,000 obligation to clean up its brownfield in the Lower Millyard anyway, so if the council votes in favor of this proposal, it would basically pay for that and a park at the same time. If not, it would have to spend that much to clean up the area anyway with nothing else to show for it.

Once the proposal to accept Healey’s land was approved, the other three bills also passed unanimously without much discussion.

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