, Newburyport, MA


October 3, 2012

YMCA should reconsider its plans

The North Shore YMCA's intentions to create a new facility in Newburyport is running into predictable and valid opposition. Hopefully, the YMCA will give serious consideration to the voices that are being raised against the plan.

The Y's plan relies on a location that is unsuitable for Newburyport. It has a purchase-and-sale agreement on the former L-3 Communications building, a spot that is deep within the city's industrial park.

Leaders within the industrial park, such as Mike Strem of Strem Chemical and Ralph Castagna of Castagna Construction, have pointed out the clear problems with the location -- the industrial park was never meant to be a place for retail-orientated businesses. The park was intentionally located on what was once the undeveloped fringe of the city, a place where industrial jobs and the noise, smells, and unpleasantries that they can generate, would thrive in relative isolation. That formula has been a successful one. It's a concept that has brought dozens of manufacturing companies to the city, along with thousands of jobs. It has also given Newburyport an important micro-economy and substantial source of tax revenues.

Importing hundreds of gym-going people into this scenario would compromise the longstanding intention of the industrial park. Newburyport has successfully managed to separate its retail and industrial areas, and this is a formula that should be upheld.

Other arguments have been raised in recent days related to the enormous fundraising effort that it is anticipated the YMCA will have to embark on, and how that will impact existing non-profits in Newburyport. The pool of available money for non-profits is only so deep, and the needs seem to grow a bit every year. It is little wonder why existing non-profits are worrying over the YMCA's plans.

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