, Newburyport, MA

November 30, 2012

Consider noise, congestion with 'developed' waterfront

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Regarding the question of an “open” or developed” waterfront, several important points about the current proposals may need further consideration.

First, noise pollution. Adding more living units will increase the population density, and consequently the noise, in an already crowded area. It also seems that some people are expected to be outdoors in public late at night; if not, why should bathrooms and showers be kept open round the clock? What are these people doing, roaming around in the night? And are they doing it quietly? Think about it.

Noise pollution is already a problem and it’s getting worse. Leaf-blowers, lawnmowers and big beeping trucks get louder all the time; rock music blaring out of restaurants and party boats can aggravate our nerves in ways that are not yet fully understood. Putting a garage under the new condominiums would require many months of pile-driving and other construction/noises, during which time walking along the boardwalk would be unbearable. Is this desirable? Think about it.

Second, congestion. Downtown and surrounding residential neighborhoods now sport many narrow, crooked streets — parking on weekends is already a big problem. Do we really want to make it worse by adding condos, more restaurants and maybe a hotel? How will further crowding impact those who chose Newburyport as a pleasant and peaceable place to raise their families, live out their lives?

Third, insulting our intelligence. To claim that restaurants and shops on the waterfront are needed so that people can stay warm and comfy in the wintertime is ridiculous! Some residents love to walk in all weathers, plus there are such items as warm winter outerwear. There are already several excellent restaurants and many fine shops a block or two away from the waterfront, and I have yet to encounter one solid reason why we need any more.

Fourth, an ominous harbinger. A pathetic example of civic “improvement” is what has been done to Joppa Park, which surely has one of the loveliest views anywhere. Its former flower beds are overwhelmed by invasives, and the tubs of seasonal blossoming plants were all removed. (A belated thank-you is owed to the volunteers who used to tend them so well.) What we have now is a quarter-mile of red roses, which bloom relentlessly for six months — a really boring sight! Nor are those roses well taken care of. The so-called grass is disgusting and the sidewalks remain a hazard for the local people who enjoy walking there. The chain-link and stone-post fencing serves no purpose that I can see except to make a long, skinny park look even longer and skinnier. To motorists driving by, Joppa Park may look wonderful — they merely glimpse the pretty flower, attractive fencing and picturesque bay beyond. But a closer look raises the question: Is this what our civic leaders consider an “enhancement”?

Ann Staffeld