NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 16, 2013

Election brings officials' voices to waterfront discussion

(Continued)

But if there are no condos, it’s back to the drawing board for the NRA and its architect-consultant, Union Studio of Providence.

Caveat: The belief on the street is that the NRA doesn’t need the approval of the mayor or the council to pursue its plans. The NRA does own the 4.2 acres in question.

But as one City Hall observer said last week, “For the NRA to get permits for zoning, soil quality and actual building without the support of City Hall and all its attendant boards, that will be tough to do.”

Some notable moments from Thursday night’s forum:

Earls and Sullivan both said they’d like to put Kelley School on the market and move its youth activities to the Brown School when the latter closes in June. City Council President Tom O’Brien favors that move as well.

Little known fact: According to Holaday, 46 property owners are doing tasks for the city in order to have $1,000 loped off their real estate taxes through a tax work-off program.

Earls suggested a $5 million bond (if approved by referendum) to fix streets and sidewalks in a planned, comprehensive way.

Meanwhile, NRA chair Tom Salemi says that the NRA will present results from test borings on the east and west parking lots at its Wednesday meeting. Engineers who worked on the project are scheduled to be on hand to explain the results.

The NRA perhaps will introduce data that supports its tentative vision of 70,000 square feet in three buildings.

But what if the city elects a mayor who doesn’t want development? Or one who wants “limited” development with no condominium units or underground parking? Yes, there’s something grand about democracy.

Due to the preliminary and general election, the conversation about the central waterfront has been much enriched.

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