To the editor:
In the closing days of the campaign, we hope that Mayor Holaday will embrace an open waterfront. The most compelling reason is that it is disrespectful — to coin the mayor’s phrase — to the people of the city to develop the waterfront against their wishes. Voters have a long-standing preference for an open waterfront, most recently expressed in the primary. Yes, the mayor won the primary, but the majority of voters expressed their anti-development sentiment by supporting her opponents.
Her mayoral opponents have been uniformly against development because when they walk the wards, they are listening to overwhelming and strident opposition. People simply don’t buy it when the NRA portrays the waterfront as blighted — Detroit is blighted.
When the mayor ran for office she opposed development and I voted for her twice. Many of us feel betrayed in that she reversed her position on the key issue that will shape the future of our city. Recently, she understandably said that once in the mayor’s office, you may gain a new perspective. However, we have to trust that our elected officials will abide by their campaign promises.
To her credit, the mayor has had the vision to realize that private luxury condominiums on public land is just plain obnoxious and unacceptable to the people of Newburyport. And, she now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with us in realizing it is wacky to have an underground garage that is destined to become a swimming pool. She can still stand up to the spectre of having mall-type retail shops on the waterfront that will risk our city’s signature retail environment, and the character of the downtown.
The open waterfront is a major attraction — not worth sacrificing for elusive revenue promises. The nation could make a dent in the deficit by selling national parks for malls, but who would propose that for our most treasured land? Newburyport’s tax base will be best served by leaving our beautiful waterfront open for all to enjoy.