NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 24, 2013

School projects, roundabout only the start of construction ahead

Newburyport will turn 250 in 2014, but despite its age the city is going through a “growth spurt” that seems to be providing some early signs of transition pains.

Construction on the new Bresnahan Elementary School has started, which has put the Brown School into focus. Brown will be closed in June 2014, and students will attend the new Bresnahan.

Residents of the South End, disturbed at the loss of a popular (albeit deteriorating) playground, are pressing for replacement structures for youngsters. In addition, they would like assurances that open space will be retained on the Brown School grounds once the school is closed.

Mayor Donna Holaday has called for a study to determine whether affordable housing would be an appropriate use of the old Brown School.

But housing requires parking, and South End residents do not want to hear about affordable housing if it means no park and/or open space.

That said, a cash transfer of $20,000 to “parks maintenance” is on tonight’s agenda of the City Council.

Most City Hall observers think expenditure for temporary playground equipment will be approved since more than 400 online signatures were amassed in favor of such an endeavor.

Similarly, some residents who live near the Bresnahan School are unhappy at losing a playground because of construction work. A baseball field also has been erased by the footprint of the school.

City councilors have earmarked $3,900 for a study to determine whether a section of the Fuller athletic fields off Low Street would be appropriate for a new diamond.

So those near the Bresnahan, too, are being affected by change.

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On another vexing matter relating to construction, numerous residents have complained that the roundabout at the intersection of Spofford and Merrimac streets is taking a very long time.

When the $1 million state-funded project was announced, it seemed like a well-crafted answer to the concerns of drivers who regularly have near-collisions at the heavily traveled intersection.

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