, Newburyport, MA


October 15, 2013

World-class vision for the waterfront

To the editor:

A different vision for the waterfront presents less parking and zero residential development on the NRA-controlled parcels. Existing parking on Waterfront Trust land should remain for Brown’s Wharf, the handicapped and the elderly. It’s been asked before — why give automobiles the best view in town?

So where would the vehicles go? How about a parking garage at the foot of Green Street on 30 percent of the current lot (across from the police station)? Depending on the allowed height (three or four stories) this garage could provide 300-plus/minus spaces while keeping the rest of the Green Street lot intact.

Regarding design of the waterfront I suggest using guidelines developed by the Project for Public Spaces. Check out ( How to Transform a Waterfront. They list several principles which I find simple, meaningful and relevant to our situation — see if you agree:

Make public goals the primary objective. The best solutions for waterfronts put public goals first, not short-term financial expediency. (Was New York’s Central Park built subject to development revenue?) As long as plans adhere to the notion that the waterfront is a public asset, then many of the following steps can be pursued successfully.

Create a shared community vision for the waterfront is self-explanatory.

Optimize public access. It is essential that the waterfront be accessible for people’s use. The goal of continuity is of paramount importance. Waterfronts with continuous public access are more desirable than those where public space is interrupted. Even small stretches where the waterfront is unavailable to the public greatly diminish the experience.

Ensure that development fits the community vision. Waterfronts are too valuable to allow developers to dictate terms of growth and change. Whatever is built must contribute to the goals set forth by the community. Development should never interfere with pedestrian connections, making parking lots and auto-oriented development out of the question.

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NRA Waterfront Plans