Meetings of council committees rarely draw crowds, but tomorrow’s session of the Planning and Development Committee will likely bring out residents who want to talk about the future of the central waterfront.
A robust attendance is expected because Ed Cameron, chairman of that committee, has said that the panel will convene for the purpose of hearing citizens’ views and visions for the area.
The session is slated for 7 p.m. in City Hall auditorium.
Cameron arranged the session after learning that Mayor Donna Holaday will host a forum Wednesday, Feb. 5, on the waterfront; but input at that session will be limited to councilors, city staff and members of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority.
The mayor has said that meetings to elicit citizen comment will be held in coming months.
Still, the future of the riverfront is such a paramount issue that Cameron took it upon himself to encourage a dialogue now.
“The discussion has been a 40-year process resulting yet again in stalemate,” Cameron said. “To move forward, stopping to listen makes sense to me.”
Cameron, an at-large councilor serving his fourth term, said he and others who campaigned last fall heard that residents want to “greatly expand the park and also reduce parking on the waterfront.”
He said members of his committee will likely hear residents’ views on how much building, if any, should be done on the waterfront.
Another major issue is that if park space is enlarged, how will such expansion be financed.
“The council simply wanted a forum that is open for citizens to speak their minds,” Cameron said. “I hope participants can also listen to other points of view.”
Other members of the Planning and Development Committee are Barry Connell and Jared Eigerman. Also invited to the session is the council’s Committee of the Whole, or any councilors who want to attend.