To the editor:
The Newburyport Redevelopment Authority has promised to build a park as part of its waterfront building project. That may well be the reason that some in the community are willing to swallow the bitter pill of development for what seems like a “greater good.” But the facts appear not to support that promise.
Here are the facts as I’ve gleaned them from attending NRA meetings:
1. The NRA will not build an expanded park on its waterfront land.
2. The NRA will not pave or otherwise improve its “dirt” parking lots.
3. The land not taken up by the three proposed building footprints will be turned over to the city unimproved and with its pollution unremediated.
4. The NRA proposes that the city issue a bond (borrow the money) to build the park.
5. The NRA’s projected property tax revenue from the proposed residential condos and retail/restaurant rental units is meant to cover the bond payments, even though such income, if it materializes, cannot be segregated in the city’s general fund for a specific purpose.
6. There will probably be no “disposition income” (money paid by a developer to buy the land) to hand over to the city to invest for park maintenance.
My conclusion is that the NRA will give the developer enough land on which to build three buildings to flank the existing Market Landing Park, extracting the only value it sees in the property, and turn the rest of the contaminated land back to the city untouched. They can then vote themselves out of existence, leaving the city to finance, build and maintain the waterfront parkland.
Pretty pictures in the Union Studio plan notwithstanding, the developer will not build a park and neither will the NRA. After years of disruption caused by the construction of this scar on the park, it will be the city’s responsibility to deal with the “blight” (the NRA’s word) left behind.
Now is the time for the NRA to abandon the illusion and turn the land over so that we can get on with building a real park with the grant money even their consultant now agrees is available.