NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 18, 2013

COW presents vision to NRA

Groups disagree on role of waterfront park, funding

(Continued)

The NRA plan calls for three buildings totaling 70,000 square feet that could generate about $300,000 a year in property-tax revenue, according to a consultant it has hired.

A municipal consultant several years ago estimated that a park with more grass, trees and sidewalks could cost about $5 million. But Morris said that even it if cost just $3 million, it would be difficult for the city to create it and then maintain it.

COW officials estimated the park would cost about $1.8 million to create and suggested that grants and/or use-revenues would defray the cost.

But several NRA members dismissed the idea that a patchwork of grants would pay for the park as “naive.”

If the two sides disagreed on how to pay for a better park, they also evinced contrary visions on the role of the park.

NRA members said they want to extend the downtown to the riverfront park, so people will shop and reside near the water.

COW members said their vision is to link the park with the river, so users can enjoy nature, family time and learn more about the long history of the community.

The meeting ran the full 7 to 9 p.m. time period that it was allotted, and then librarians quietly requested an end to the session. No action was taken.

One of the few finite assertions was that engineering crews will start testing soil on the waterfront in early August, and results will be ready for the NRA meeting on Sept. 18.

NRA officials have contracted with an engineering firm to run soil tests to see if the land is appropriate for the construction of the three buildings, and underground parking for condo tenants (about 60 spaces).

Both sides agreed that the results of those tests will be germane to future discussions.

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