NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 25, 2013

A radical view for waterfront development

Viewpoint
Robert Allen Schledwitz

---- — Global warming is a reality. In the next 50 years of our ongoing waterfront development, certain occurrences are guaranteed. The ocean level will rise several feet and horrific storms and hurricanes will be normal weather events. Any plans to develop our beautiful waterfront that does not accept these realities is as wrong as was building New Orleans 50 feet below sea level thinking vulnerable barriers would protect their city.

I propose the following: Massive pilings shall be sunk down to bedrock throughout the areas that now contain parking lots. Steel beams shall rise 12 feet above ground and a structurally solid platform will be built on top. The ground level will be a paved, enclosed parking lot and on top will be all the parks, gardens, concert shell and lawn, shops, fountains, taverns, restaurants, food carts, condos and amenities currently planned for the space.

I believe this will accomplish many good things. First, short of a tsunami, it will not be destroyed by Mother Nature.

Second, there will be substantially more totally out-of-sight, sheltered, all-season parking spaces.

Third, the view of the harbor from 12 feet above the existing walkway, which will remain below, will be far more dramatic due to the elevation.

Fourth, the parking, shopping and living areas will be interconnected and protected against the weather in winter so you do not have to negotiate a walk from an outside parking lot down windy streets to where you are going in bad weather.

Fifth, a large reflecting pond with Koi fish will provide beauty to the garden area in the summer and become a skating rink in the winter with an outdoor open firepot and refreshment stand.

Sixth, the high real estate taxes and parking fees will be an ongoing source of revenue to the city for the project’s maintenance and can fund free public events like concerts, plays and weekly in-season river fireworks.

Seventh, a docking area for frequent commuter boats from the development to the beach at the north end of Plum Island (which will be developed to have a beach volleyball stadium, parasailing, windsurfing, powered parasailing, water skidoos, on-beach public BBQ stands, Tiki huts for food and beverages, ocean and river kayaks, fishing, whale watch boats and day cruises to the Isles of Shoals, overnight camping areas, public showers and rest rooms, and all the other things that make a day at the beach fun like they do in Florida in places like Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota). Docking will also take people to and from the Salisbury Beach Reservation and Maudslay State Park, allowing visitors to enjoy three wonderful nature destinations by a pleasant boat ride without having to drive and park at each of them and deal with traffic or scarce parking spaces.

Eighth, the parking area will be sided with grey aged wood with colorful perennial flowering vines growing up their sides along the walkways and the two walls facing the area behind the Firehouse Center will have exquisite murals depicting the Merrimack, Atlantic Ocean, Native Americans who lived here and the commercial history of Newburyport and tributes to William Garrison’s abolitionist movement and John Greenleaf Whittier’s local poetry. The elevated area will have stairs, ramps and elevators for access.

Above all, it will be a bold, iconic and creative image for our fair city fit for the 21st century. A lasting tourist mecca, solidly built, providing many good-paying, permanent jobs for locals and a source of pride to all. Mr. Karp would be wise to also place his large development properties on such a firm foundation with concealed ground parking too. Including his waterfront hotel. Think about it.

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Robert Allen Schledwitz lives in Newburyport.