, Newburyport, MA

May 10, 2013

Most NRA members absent from COW presentation

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

It is incumbent upon me to comment about the recent unveiling of the “Alternative Concept for the Central Waterfront” as presented by the Committee for an Open Waterfront, Inc. (COW).

The initial showing, held in the library’s meeting room, was both well attended and well received — it was so well attended that many people had to be turned away. All 100 chairs were filled, and people were standing wherever they could find space. A few climbed on a table. People were craning their necks from the doorways and the corridors. The hour-long presentation seemed to have no problem holding the audience’s rapt attention — there was a respectful silence throughout, save for a few involuntary gasps of dismay at appropriate moments. And clapping, at appropriate moments.

That evening turned out to be so popular that COW held an encore performance the following Tuesday. This repeat showing, too, brought out a large crowd. All the seats were filled. A couple of standees hovered in the rear. Again there was rapt attention punctuated by appropriate gasps and clapping.

COW is gratified to see this astounding amount of interest within the community. COW is grateful for all of the support that it is receiving for its alternative concept. And, it is worth noting who was not there. Conspicuously absent from both showings was the majority of the membership of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA). One NRA member, Adam Guild, came to both presentations. But the rest failed to show up — at either one. They all received individual invitations, along with their attorney who attends most NRA meetings, but their chair’s inexplicable position was that it was “inappropriate” for them to attend. And so they did not. To be fair, two members were said to be “traveling,” but that still leaves two more who simply chose to boycott COW, as did their attorney.

And, to be fair, again, the NRA has invited COW to present the program to them at their next meeting, to be held about four weeks after COW’s initial unveiling. So at best they will be a full month behind the rest of the city in viewing an alternative concept for their own lands. By their own choice. On purpose. Simply amazing.

Elizabeth Heath, President

The Committee for an Open Waterfront, Inc.