NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 19, 2013

Referendum petition fails, due to lack of valid signatures

BY DYKE HENDRICKSON
STAFF WRITER

---- — NEWBURYPORT — A petition to put a non-binding referendum on the Nov. 5 election ballot has failed.

Lisa Bleicken, an organizer of Friends of Brown School Park, said that the organization was unable to obtain enough valid signatures to qualify for inclusion on the ballot.

The referendum question had requested that part of the Brown School property be earmarked for public recreation after the school is closed in June.

“Despite gathering more signatures than required, fewer than the required 1,057 signatures were approved and certified,” Bleicken said. The organization submitted lists totaling almost 1,200 names.

Still, she said holding discussions and gathering signatures was a worthwhile experience for many residents of the South End.

“The Friends of Brown School Park would like to thank everyone who devoted time, materials and effort to these remarkable community endeavors,” she said.

The Friends organization was able to persuade city councilors and Mayor Donna Holaday to build a new playground on the premises after aging wooden structures were removed this spring.

Holaday transferred $20,000 for replacement equipment, and city councilors approved the measure.

The new playground is operative now, city officials say.