, Newburyport, MA

April 5, 2013

Why I support park/parking on waterfront

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

I am a convert from mixed-use to park-and-parking-only waterfront use. With the return of my ability to walk for exercise and pleasure, I’ve come to value very particular aspects of the way our waterfront is today. At the same time, the proposals of the current NRA become more distressing daily.

Accessing the waterfront by the public alley alongside the Custom House Maritime Museum is a great pleasure. Depending on the season, the fragrance of pine or Rosa rugosa follows me to the water. Who minds a parking lot, when the waters of the mouth of the great river draw one to its changing light, winter vastness or summer’s activity and the play of masts and hulls according to wind and tide? I was particularly grateful for the parking lot on a few occasions in the past six months. First, it was the amazing sight of docks being hauled to land and stacked like huge building blocks — a unique seasonal marker. Second, there were a few days when the boardwalk was too slippery to attempt and the parking lot provided enough traction here and there to allow passage whilst still being within sight of the water.

The boatyard is a challenge, particularly at this time of year, but again from the music of wind blowing through winter masts to the opportunity of watching waterfront work marking the season’s changes, one is consoled as one hopes for the day when a dedicated footpath links the boardwalk with the rail trail.

Newburyport does lack a few necessary commercial offerings: a good art supply store is the first thing that comes to mind. It does not want another restaurant, another women’s clothing store or gift shop. It does not need more condominiums, taking up eyespace, requiring the chemical maintenance of perfect(ly boring) landscaping. It does not need more parks, although a bigger version of the library parking lot would be graceful where the current “dirt” parking lot offers a useful place to put a car — or docks.

If the current NRA is determined to be in the business of speculation, then it is my opinion that they should read Roger Foster’s plan published on Feb. 19 in The Daily News, after they have taken on board the facts offered by Janet Marcus in this past Friday’s recent Viewpoint. And I’m waiting for a mayoral candidate who will value what we already have that makes Newburyport unique.

Clare Keller