NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

May 9, 2014

A call to attend Saturday's charette

To the editor:

I’m happy to say the death or dissolution of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority has been greatly exaggerated in the pages of The Daily News in recent weeks. As much as the paper’s editorials favor the board’s disbanding, the redevelopment authority plans to continue working with Mayor Donna Holaday to find the right solution for the two dirt parking lots sitting on either side of waterfront park.

In that spirit, I ask all residents to attend this Saturday’s charette at Central Congregational Church on Titcomb Street. As the father of two young sons, I understand how complex Saturday morning meetings can be with sports, family events and other blessed activities. But just a few hours this Saturday could help this community move in a positive direction, past the unnecessary rancor and divisiveness that’s marked this project for years. If we can set the right tone — one of cooperation and community — we can finally bypass history’s hurdles.

The charette starts at 8:30 a.m.

As chairman of the redevelopment authority, I know the past two years haven’t been easy. But the plan put forth by our group and Mayor Holaday in September 2012 raised many valid questions about the future of our waterfront, our downtown and our community.

We Newburyporters are blessed to live in a community that cares this deeply and works this hard for our downtown, the commercial heart of our city.

Finally, I’ve been remiss in not publicly thanking the three members of the Redevelopment Authority who left the board in recent months. These volunteers — Patricia Dorfman, John Morris and James Shanley — asked and answered two primary questions facing our downtown. How are we going to improve our waterfront with an expanded park and year-round activity? And how will we pay for those improvements? During their tenure, the redevelopment authority established historic ties with the city through a partnership with MassDevelopment, bringing together two entities with a tenuous-at-best working relationship.

Their contributions to the community did not begin with their time on the redevelopment authority nor will they end with their departures. We’re fortunate to have such committed volunteers.

I hope others will share their spirit by trying to be part of a solution.

Tom Salemi

Newburyport

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