, Newburyport, MA


January 26, 2013

Protection of waterfront, PI most pressing problem

To the editor:

Nero fiddled above while Rome burned below. Thus it was at the last NRA meeting. It was a short one with little business except an announcement that the Committee for an Open Waterfront would be on the agenda of the next meeting, presumably for discussion of issues thereon. The mayor and Planning Department heads were invited to participate. No mention was made of COW leaders being invited.

One has to ask why any discussion of COW would take priority over obvious ominous matters looming on the horizon facing not only NRA waterfront land but the city as well.

There is the specter of a fierce storm like Sandy attacking our shores with the same disastrous loss of lives and property as befell the shores of New Jersey and Long Island.

Have any of our city leaders or state politicians mentioned this real and pressing danger? Could it have come up at the two-hour, closed-door meeting of mayor and City Council to discuss who to take to court over weak values, corroded bolts and broken mains? Forget those details — a Sandy-type storm will wash the whole system away and most of the island as well.

Newburyport will lose its barrier island protection with a wall of water surging up the river the like of which we can hardly imagine but will likely see many times in the future as the ocean takes back its land.

Now is not the time for fiddling and silly “discussions” of how to overcome difficulties COW is causing the NRA in its development plans, which surely go down the drain now, with the example of Sandy’s aftermath. Unless all our city leaders and NRA members have their heads in the sand (Plum Island’s lost sands?), they should be tackling preparedness tactics against the deluge to come.

First step: a task force on experts to plan a viable defense, if there is one. Or perhaps we should just call in the Dutch.

Natalea Brown

Member of COW, Newburyport

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