Unless Mr. Strand is trying to tell us that he wants to see buildings more than he wants to see improvements, I would think that the law of “your rights end where they begin to impinge on mine” would apply.
If Mr. Strand indeed wants to see more brick walls between the Merrimack River and the downtown, he will have his wish fulfilled, at no cost to the taxpayer, when the many parcels of privately held waterfront land bookending the small NRA-held parcel are developed by their private owners. As a pro-NRA real estate professional commented to me recently as we discussed the issue while standing in the footprint of an NRA-proposed building next to the boardwalk, “Newburyport is hot!”
As for the question: “How are you going to pay for that?”
It is the responsibility of the five appointed members of the NRA to first arrive at a vision for the improvement to the NRA lots that reflects “the highest public good.” Once that is done, we can figure out how to pay for it.
Strand’s: Sell to a private developer willing to take on a $20 million project.
Mine: Find grants and use parking fees to fund an initial $2 million expense and support ongoing maintenance.
I believe that the (lower-cost, lower-impact) most conservative approach would be the most responsible.