NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 19, 2012

O'Connor Ives leading the way to compromise on LHD

Compromise is in the air regarding a proposed Local Historic District, and it appears that a little child shall lead them (well, Katy O’Connor Ives is just 35).

The City Council recently discussed the LHD, and members’ remarks indicate they are split over the proposed ordinance that would create a Local Historic District Commission. The matter is scheduled to come up again at the council’s meeting on Nov. 26.

Since approval would require a super-majority of eight of 11 votes, the LHD will not pass in its current form.

Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives has outlined areas that might be considered for a compromise solution. (Mayor Donna Holaday has also made suggestions, but since O’Connor Ives sits on the board that makes the decision, the voice of the city councilor is especially resonant now.)

There appear to be two areas of possible negotiation.

One is to restrict the LHD to the downtown commercial area. (Yes, this would mean that historic High Street would not be part of this LHD.)

The other is to consider a measure that would prohibit the demolition of historic homes.

O’Connor Ives, a lawyer and small-business owner, recently won election to the state Senate, and her campaign revealed that despite her youth, she is among the most politically adept of those who serve on the part-time council.

She was a district leader for Sen. Al Gore’s presidential campaign, for instance, and she was a key figure in the gubernatorial race of Steve Grossman, now state treasurer.

Though soft-spoken and quite accessible, she is a force when it comes to developing initiatives and fostering cooperation.

Referencing local history, O’Connor Ives says the downtown should have an LHD to protect it because municipal leaders in the ‘70s worked so hard to save historic buildings. The result was a nationally recognized success.

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