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June 4, 2014

Rancor over Port waterfront board's membership

NEWBURYPORT — Members of the Waterfront Trust appear to be disagreeing on the course of the five-member board.

The volunteer panel held its regular meeting Monday night, and Chairman Doug Locy made a motion to remove member Joe Brown from his position on the “waterside” committee that meets with other municipal bodies about plans for the waterfront.

The motion did not receive a second.

Brown retains the authority — along with Trust committee member Scott Sutherland — to represent the organization in waterfront matters.

“Joe is abrasive and people don’t want to work with him,” said Locy yesterday. “He is passionate and dedicated but hard to work with.”

Brown said, also a day after the meeting, “I am frank and people know where I stand. I think the meeting itself was useful and all sides had the opportunity to speak their minds.

“I think the ball will move forward if we keep discussing things.”

At issue appears to be who speaks for the Waterfront Trust — and what its members say.

In carrying out its duties of supervising segments of the publicly owned areas of the central waterfront, the Trust interacts with members of the Harbor Commission, the harbormaster’s office, the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority and City Hall.

Several matters of business are on the table of the Trust, which was created in 1991 as a separate entity to protect the rights of residents.

The Trust is charged with supervising leases of boats on the “waterside,” including the whalewatch craft, the tourist vessel that goes up the river, and the catamaran that takes out parties to the ocean.

Also, legal work to define ownership of land adjacent to the NRA is nearing completion and will need agreement of parties involved.

In addition, city officials are discussing a municipal master plan that includes discussion of the future of the waterfront. The Trust is involved in that discussion.

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