NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 14, 2014

On the waterfront, all sides getting 'lawyered-up'

It appears that lawyers will soon be joining strollers, boaters and fishermen as regulars on the waterfront.

In recent months several boards have been sparring about who controls what on the central waterfront.

Some members of the the Harbor Commission last week said they would consider obtaining legal representation to protect its rights in developing the boardwalk and receiving revenue derived from operations.

This interest in legal matters came several weeks after the Waterfront Trust voted to retain local lawyer Doug Bolick.

Other entities also have legal counsel: the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority retains lawyer Carol Powers, and the city has an in-house legal resource (Richard Jones) and a Boston law firm (Kopelman and Paige) to assess legal issues.

Lawyers are also in the wings to represent New England Development, a major waterfront landholder, and the Ale House, a new restaurant soon to be developed at the intersection of Merrimac and Green streets.

Several municipal bodies own and/or control land on the central waterfront, including the Harbor Commission, the Waterfront Trust, the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority and the city itself.

Each entity is keenly interested in their property, in part because the future is so promising.

Each organization is in the black, and they want the revenue to continue.

Indeed, since the advent of paid public parking, revenue streams steadily to the Trust, the NRA and the city.

The Trust also receives leasing revenue from riverfront businesses, such as the tourist boats.

The Harbor Commission receives significant boat-registration revenue from the Office of the Harbormaster, which it supervises.

Now some waterfront watchers want a greater clarity on how revenue will be collected in the future.

Last week Bill Harris appeared at a regular meeting of the Harbor Commission.

Harris is a lawyer with a longtime interest in the waterfront. He was the key legal force in Friends of the Waterfront, the civic organization that fought commercial development on the waterfront four decades ago.

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