In my opinion, the better way to move forward would be for the NRA committee to change tack and move on those items that can be addressed immediately (and on which we all seem to agree), namely, softened boundaries with the Waterfront Trust park, more efficient layout of parking, inclusion of the path to the waterways (in agreement with the Waterfront Trust) as well as the linkage for the rail trail paths. Also, I’d propose the inclusion of a “flex” area that can support rental opportunities for civic/group functions (think temporary tents for weddings/corporate events, or pop-up stores/kiosks with food stands, mobile-retail, etc.). With the combination of paid parking, plus fees for the use of the “flex” space, this area could generate as much revenue (for the city) as with commercial buildings. With a bit of focus and a new cooperative spirit, all this could be accomplished by Yankee Homecoming of 2013! (OK, maybe 2014), which would then allow for the NRA to stand under their version of a “Mission Accomplished” banner, declare the lot “developed,” transfer ownership to the city and finally cease to exist.
Jim McCauley lives in Newburyport