To the editor:
I think there is a colossal and unfortunate misunderstanding in regard to the proposed development at Waterfront Park. The NRA’s plan does not block off the waterfront, but in fact increases access and the size of the park land, especially along the waterfront. The NRA plan differs from the COW plan in that it increases the size of the park, and finds a way to pay for ongoing park repairs, maintenance and upgrades now and going forward. Don’t just say “no” because you hear the words “real estate development,” but instead take the time to learn about the NRA’s plan by attending a meeting or viewing the plan online at www.newburyport.blogspot.com or cityofnewburyport.com. Don’t be an uninformed follower, making a knee-jerk decision, but rather keep an open mind and educate yourself. Consider the following interesting, but apparently, little-known facts:
The open space or green park area is going to increase in size by 35 percent from 3.7 to 5.0 acres, much of it closest to the waterfront. The two buildings are to be built on what is currently parking lot, not park land. However, these buildings will occupy less than 15 percent of the dirt parking lots
I am in favor of the NRA’s plan because it is a thoughtful, well-balanced plan that makes good financial sense. I am in favor of appropriately scaled mixed-use development because historically the downtown core has been densely developed and extending development adjacent to the park will help bring people and activity to the park during the day and night-time hours and all year round. In addition, development will add significant revenues to the city both directly from real estate taxes and indirectly, in terms of visitors’ parking revenues, purchases at local businesses, etc. These revenue streams could provide much-needed additional dollars for improvements to the city’s infrastructure, schools, social services and more.
Businesses and empty nesters pay real estate taxes, but they don’t send kids to school! If you are a parent with kids in the Newburyport public school system, I encourage you to voice your support of the NRA’s plan, for it could make up the perennial deficit our schools face. These revenues could pay for a new foreign language program or STEM enrichment programs that will allow our kids to compete with kids from towns who welcome controlled commercial development. Commercial property diversifies the city’s tax base and helps keep residential real estate taxes more reasonable. I view the NRA’s plan as a win/win/win. The city gets quality real estate development, which will generate tax revenues, and a 35 percent bigger park, which will pay for itself now and in the future. There are not too many proposals these days that can make that claim! I urge residents to take the time to educate themselves and make an informed decision.