, Newburyport, MA

October 4, 2013

Election is all about the waterfront

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Joe DiBiase’s recent letter to the News is a reflection that even the NRA’s most stalwart defenders are beginning to hedge their bets. Instead of being dictatorial and autocratic, they are now trying to sugar the pot, so to speak. As usual, take it all it with a grain of salt.

Standard inaccuracies litter his note. The NRA, he says, only wants to take “a small part of the property” to build their tax-generating condominiums, without which no park can be created and maintained. What a load that is. “A small part?” How about every square inch that is permissible given the many strictures that will bind any developer’s hands, and thank goodness they are in place. You can paint this land-grabbing road hog any way you like, but that doesn’t disguise the fact that it is, in the end, a land-grabbing road hog. Anyone who has seen COW’s video presentation, with its aerial shots and vantage points from many angles, can attest to that.

Again, more baloney on finances. Everybody knows, he says, that the idea of taking a percentage of parking revenues to pay for greenery guarantees, ipso facto, that the parking lots will be here for years. Not the case. I chaired the Mayor’s Parking and Traffic Committee for 12 long years. We came within one City Council vote of having a downtown parking facility with 400 spaces built adjacent to the waterfront on the former Gibbs site. Part of the plan was a dedicated revenue stream from that facility exclusively earmarked for building the waterfront park. Think about it. Without the incredible stupidity of a few retrograde city councilors, that garage would be up and running as we speak, a park in place and an end, finally, to this ongoing cascade of civic discord.

I note the mayor is now backpedaling on the waterfront as well. Elections have a way of doing that to politicians, especially when they get whacked by a two-to-one margin in a primary. She wants five debates — hey, as many as possible — so she can run circles around her opponent, a former fireman whom she presumably feels doesn’t know anything. There’s more to talk about than the waterfront, she says; let’s put this issue on the back burner where it belongs.

Sorry, Madame Mayor, this election is one-dimensional. It’s all about the waterfront. If you want my vote, I suggest you do the following: Instead of talking compromise, do it. State unequivocally that the only building you will tolerate on NRA property is maybe opposite the former Davis site; no more development fanatics appointed to the NRA; and ask James Shanley for his resignation. The NRA is grossly out of step with community opinion; it’s time they no longer divide the populace of this city as they have for the past several years.

And finally, the key to this dilemma is a parking garage. Follow the blueprint from 12 years ago. It still works, and I’d be happy to be part of any effort to revive it.

James Charles Roy