, Newburyport, MA

January 26, 2013

No majority support for waterfront plans

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

A couple of thoughts regarding the recent column by Patty Dorfman, a member of the NRA. She’s been listening to people for the past 10 years, she says, regarding waterfront plans. Well, I’ve been listening, along with many of my co-conspirators (her words), for 32. We started out fighting Roger Foster, another “top developer,” and now we’re fighting the NRA, Union Studios, Mayor Holaday, and anyone else who seeks to undermine the vision that brought Foster to ruin three decades ago.

At the presentation by Union Studios several months ago, I was certainly not surprised to hear people praising the plan. I call them the Chamber of Commerce crowd. In other words, anything for a buck. Dorfman’s claim that the majority of our citizenry support the proposed development is sheer delusion. She confuses the applause she heard that night with what people out in the city really think, which is decidedly anti-development. If you want proof of that, let’s have a non-binding referendum next fall and see who wins.

The annoying thing about Ms. Dorfman’s letter is her notion that opponents of development actually want the retention of the dirt parking lots, as though that is our ultimate goal. According to her, it’s either two huge sets of condos or unsightly congregations of cars scattered about. Again, this is nonsense. Our position has always been a very simple one. When and if the Karp properties are finally developed, we will thank the heavens that we have any open space left at all downtown. The central waterfront, at relatively little cost and very meager maintenance, can be landscaped, have a few trees planted, and be left in a natural, park-like condition to be enjoyed by all, townie and tourist alike. With superb maritime views in a 180-degree spread, refreshing our minds and spirits on a daily basis — yes, winter included! — we will have what the great designer Frederick Law Olmsted called “a crown jewel in our very midst.” Pretty basic. No toilets, no changing rooms, no restaurants, no expanded harbormaster headquarters that serve no genuine purpose other than to satisfy that current department head’s megalomania.

Mayor Holaday claimed after Union’s presentation that its plan “preserves open space.” That’s a crock (to say nothing about her betrayal of a key re-election promise). If the NRA plan is implemented, the waterfront will be maxed out. The rich who can afford waterside condos will indeed luxuriate in the splendid views from their balconies, a glass of Chardonnay in hand, to the general public’s neglect. What part of this equation does the NRA not understand?

I will now lay my “busy pen” to rest. But just for a moment, believe me.