To the editor:
As a resident of Newburyport’s Ward 2, advocate for historic preservation and proponent of waterfront open space and public access, I urge Ward 2 voters to elect Jared Eigerman as their city councilor on Nov. 5.
Jared Eigerman, if elected, will facilitate protections for historic neighborhoods, provide leadership for expanding city parks and champion a “smart growth” overhaul of the city’s zoning ordinances. Since the city adopted zoning in 1940, fully 38 percent of historic (pre-1930) buildings in the city have been demolished. This is the fastest demo rate of all coastal cities in the state since the year 1940. Ward 2 has many of the city’s historic structures and neighborhoods and is therefore especially vulnerable.
Jared was a key co-drafter of the Katy O’Connor Ives-sponsored Demolition Control Ordinance, requiring a showing of financial hardship to totally demolish historic structures in the National Register district. Jared also volunteered to draft protections for a small downtown historic district. These initiatives would not micromanage private buildings citywide but would keep out-of-town developers from implementing demo projects without financial hardship. This would reduce the spread of substitute McMansions that impair architectural integrity and reduce neighborhood property values.
In addition, Jared’s expertise in land use regulation would aid all city councilors with citywide zoning revisions planned for year 2014. “Smart growth” can expand the overall tax base and keep residential taxes from rising. Jared has proposed a fee per parking space for developers within 300 feet of municipal parking lots who do not provide their own parking spaces. All candidates claim to oppose higher residential taxes; Jared, with his expertise, can make that happen.
Chris Welch and his supporters claim that he too supports historic preservation. That may be true, but he has been absent from the process over the years. Unlike Jared, Chris did not participate in the effort to extend the demo delay ordinance from 6 to 12 months, and prospectively from 12 to 24 months; he did not appear routinely in the many demolition permit hearings before our Historical Commission; and he did not help to draft ordinances for demo controls or a downtown historic district.
When actions rather than words are examined, it is clear who would best represent our ward, and who has the skills to help the entire City Council implement a 21st century preservation, development and park expansion strategy.
William R. Harris