, Newburyport, MA

December 11, 2012

Changes to our local scene

Newburyport Daily News

---- — A few observations from the past week:

River retakes River Road

Last week Merrimac selectmen made official what we’ve long suspected would happen. A scenic stretch of River Road that hugs the bank of the Merrimack River will be closed permanently. This stretch of road ran from Merrimacport to a spot close to the Amesbury line.

It’s an unfortunate occurrence, but it makes financial sense. The road was built into the riverbank, held up by nothing more than unstable soil and force of habit. The Mother’s Day storm of 2006 badly eroded the riverbank and forced Merrimac to close the road. Ever since, it has served as a walking path, particularly popular with dog walkers.

The closure of that stretch of roadway interrupts what for decades has been a scenic roadside view of the Merrimack River that stretches from the Chain Bridge in Amesbury to Rock’s Village in Haverhill. Instead, motorists now must take a detour that swings away from the river for about a mile, then rejoins the riverside road network.

We agree with Merrimac selectmen that it’s not worth spending $4 million to rebuild this stretch of road, but we will also recognize that we’ve lost something that made this region unique.

Goodbye to grocery stickers

Yesterday, Massachusetts took a step toward ending that age-old teenage job, the much maligned grocery store price sticker applier. State officials held a public press event in Somerville demonstrating how price scanners work, in anticipation of a Jan. 1 law change that will no longer mandate that every item in a grocery store gets a pricetag slapped on it.

Our state is far behind the times on this issue. Most states no longer require price stickers. Instead, we’re expected to depend upon the accuracy of the unit price posted on the store shelf. For added safeguards, grocery stores that stop using stickers will be required to have a price scanner on every aisle so that consumers can check to make sure that the price on the shelf is accurate.

There are probably a lot of people whose first job involved the constant “kerthunketah” of operating a pricegun, or its predecessor, the ink stamp. It’s a generation of teenage jobs that will go by the wayside, but perhaps it will make groceries a little more affordable to the public.

Lower Green homes turning heads

There have been some heads turned by what’s going on next to Newbury’s Lower Green. Foundations of huge homes are being poured, directly behind the historic Seddon Tavern. Some are asking whether this is the stretch of land that was supposed to be preserved by more than $400,000 that was raised this year to keep the Upper Green’s backdrop intact, and whether a mistake has been made.

Turns out, this is what was planned all along. The money was spent to preserve a parcel of land at the southern end of the green, but the northern end was always slated for development. Still, it’s unfortunate that the entire vista will not be preserved.