, Newburyport, MA

December 24, 2012

Pondering the past year in Port

Newburyport City Notebook
Dyke Hendrickson

---- — Random nanothoughts as the year draws to a close:

Things that worked in 2012:

A new clearwell (municipal water source) on Spring Lane was constructed, and the transition from a collapsing system to a new facility was made without incident.

City, state and federal officials worked together to secure $3.6 million to rebuild the south jetty of the Merrimack River.

A $6.5 million senior community center was approved by voters.

A complex, $32 million wastewater treatment plant moved forward, after expensive delays.

The state “gave” the city $1 million for a roundabout at the intersection of Spofford and Merrimac streets.

The Custom House Maritime Museum was energized by new leadership and creative programs.

Solarize Newburyport lit up the town, contracting with more than 40 residences and business for services.

Newburyport was recognized as a Coast Guard City.

Events to ponder:

A proposed Local Historic District, which on paper included almost 800 structures, was passed to include — just five structures (eight residences). Talk about downsizing.

A revitalized commission has begun contemplating improvements at the Mall. Where to start? The fountain? The debris? The droppings from birds and dogs that frequent the venerable center?

Will the Prince of Whales be replaced? This 149-seat tourist boat chugged out of port weeks ago, and no replacement has been announced. Former owners said it took out almost 10,000 visitors per year.

Notable quotes:

“I didn’t like working with the historic commission in Somerville,” said City Councilor Tom Jones, a contractor, during a discussion of the LHD. “I tried to get all my work done before they knew about it.”

“To run up a water bill of $17,613 is unacceptable,” said Mayor Donna Holaday, focusing on a (six-month) water bill of the Waterfront Trust. “And this was during a water ban.”

Dick Hordon, who headed a coalition of residents opposed to the LHD: Asked for his reaction if the Lord Timothy Dexter home (a well-known historic structure) were purchased and scheduled for demolition, Hordon said, “I would be extremely disappointed. But the owner would have the right to tear it down.”

Who would have predicted ... ?

That City Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives would run for the state Senate and win convincingly.

That municipal voters would approve two schools and a senior community center.

That Davis Auto Parts would be sold to a restaurant owner who wants to put in a eatery-bar with 431 seats.

That Fowle’s newsstand would be closed.

That a full-concept plan for the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority land on the riverfront would be considered.

That the HMS Bounty, which thrilled North Shore residents last summer, would sink with its captain on board?

That Newburyport would provide a 67 percent affirmative vote on medical marijuana? Well, actually, one probably could have predicted that.


The following meeting is scheduled this week and is open to the public?


Historical Commission, 9 a.m., 39-41 Ashland St.


Dyke Hendrickson covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-462-6666, ext. 3226 or at