NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 31, 2012

Taking stock of 2012

Waterfront, preservation at forefront in Port

NEWBURYPORT — Perhaps every year provides momentous municipal events and riveting political action when put under the lens of reflection, but ... it does appear that in 2012, there was a lot going on here.

Issues were debated, elections held, municipal projects completed and plans for the future finalized. Thousands of residents were caught up in the movement of community action.

In the briefest of shorthand, news coverage focused on developments including the LHD, NRA, Storey Avenue, clearwell, treatment plant, south jetty, beach scraping, solarizing, new parks and successful referendums on two schools and a senior community center.

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One issue debated for the entire year was a proposed ordinance to create a Local Historic District,

“This issue is dividing our community,” said City Councilor Dick Sullivan Jr. — and others.

A study committee spent five years developing an ordinance its creators thought would preserve historic structures. Numerous public meetings demonstrated the community was sharply divided on the issue.

Two weeks ago, the City Council passed the first reading of a much-reduced LHD, consisting of just five structures (eight residences). The council in January will continue discussion on a measure focused on the downtown business district and a much-discussed demolition delay. More ardent debate is expected.

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The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority was also in the news in 2012, as the five-member board moved forward with plans to develop 4.2 acres it owns on the riverfront.

Much of its acreage now is used as parking lots, and members say they want to expand the area for more park and greenery.

In order to pay for the creation and maintenance of the park, the NRA commissioned an outline from Union Studio of Providence, R.I., to provide a concept of what the park could look like.

The NRA will be seeking requests for proposals from developers in the coming months, but some residents are opposed to the commercial buildings that are proposed as part of the plan, which could include shops, restaurants and 30 to 35 condominium units.

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