, Newburyport, MA


February 13, 2014

NRA stance remains out of tune

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, especially the embattled members of the NRA, but chairman Tom Salemi’s defense of the pro-development stance that group has been pushing for the past several years is meritless.

Analyzing leftovers from the mayoral election is a strong reed for Tom to grasp. Mayor Holaday had “a vision” Newburyporters agreed with, he says, her opponent did not, which explains her easy victory. While I cannot argue over the results, I would point out an indisputable fact. While not meaning to disparage the efforts of the honorable opposition, I think it plain to say that anyone who attended the mayoral debate came away thinking the obvious, “This election is over.” The disparity in skill and professionalism was too wide for most voters to ignore. And as for “vision,” even the mayor conceded that the Union Studio concept is DOA. Just walking the streets, wherein the voters gave her an earful, made this concession a political necessity.

As for the City Council, it is obvious that candidates such as Cameron and Connell, who are well-respected, stated their approval of partial development on the waterfront, but it is clear from listening to them that they were soft-pedaling their support, preferring to talk about sidewalks. The allusion to Lanphear’s poor showing is likewise weak. Her positions on a wide range of issues were polarizing, and a poor showing was predictable.

I would quarrel with two other assertions. The first is that a waterfront park would “choke an already fragile downtown.” According to David Tierney’s remarks at the recent waterfront meeting at City Hall, one of the most respected real estate brokers in town, the exact opposite is true. More stores, both on the NRA lots and anything on Karp’s land, will absolutely crush small businesses on Pleasant Street, upper State and side streets that are now sprinkled with interesting shops. The “action,” in other words, will move farther downtown. Whose opinion would you trust, Salemi’s or Tierney’s?

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