NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

February 15, 2013

Damage was minimal during blizzard

BY JENNIFER SOLIS
CORRESPONDENT

---- — NEWBURY — Town facilities weathered the Blizzard of 2013 fairly well, reports Town Administrator Tracy Blais.

She told selectmen on Tuesday that although six private homes on Plum Island remain uninhabitable following the storm, damage to town property was minimal. An apparent ceiling leak in the Town Hall was the only notable problem, Blais said.

Bulging suspended ceiling tiles and what appears to be a dark water stain are visible in an area right in front of the Planning Board office. Public access to the spot below the ceiling leak is temporarily restricted with cones and yellow tape.

Blais noted that the six property owners are working with engineers and the building inspector to resolve their occupancy status.

During the storm the National Guard delivered 6,000 sand bags to shore up the coastline and protect town and private assets. Selectmen lauded the Guards’ efforts as well as the “above and beyond” contributions made by citizen volunteers from Yankee Pine Corp. and Timberline of Newburyport, who braved snow and blowing sand for two hours to help install the sandbags at Plum Island’s center last Friday.

Blais did note, however, a serious issue with windows at the Newbury Public Library that was unrelated to the inclement weather. Engineers are currently reviewing what appears to be a case of faulty workmanship when the windows were installed 10 years ago. The result is that all the library’s windows are in danger of falling out, she reported. Estimated cost to address the problem in the short term is around $10,000.

Also during her report to selectmen, Blais said very preliminary estimates indicate a possible $273,000 reduction in the town’s assessment for the Triton Regional School District next year. If the numbers bear out, Blais would recommended not appropriating the windfall right away, but rather waiting to see if the decrease was a one-time occurrence or carried through to the following year.

Noting that $15,000 remains in an account for the Newbury Improvement Trust Committee, Blais asked selectmen for information on what the original charge of the apparently now-defunct committee was.

After speaking with Warren Manter — long-time chairman of the Newbury Recreation Committee — Blais announced that the recreation board is seeking new members. In particular, Manter would like to find someone to assume his leadership position. Anyone interested should contact the selectmen’s office, 978-465-0862, ext 303.

Selectmen OK’d a special permit to allow The Beachcoma, 23 Plum Island Blvd., to play music on Sundays from 4 to 8 p.m. starting Feb. 17. Owner Gregg Pugh, who was present for the discussion, said he is hoping the music will attract more customers. The family dining and bar establishment reopened its doors in July 2011 after a seven-year hiatus.