, Newburyport, MA

April 19, 2013

COW has right idea for waterfront

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Last night I attended my first COW meeting (Committee for an Open Waterfront). Much to my surprise, it exceeded all of my expectations. It was well attended, even though this issue has been around for many years. Everyone who spoke seemed well informed and thoughtful. Elizabeth Heath did an excellent job running the meeting.

I attended the presentation given by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA) supported by Mayor Holaday last year at the Firehouse with an open mind and very little information about the NRA, the Newburyport Waterfront Trust or the COWs. My initial impression of the NRA presentation was one of acceptance and a little confusion as to why there was so much opposition to the NRA’s proposal. But, after attending more meetings for the NRA, the Newburyport Waterfront Trust and now a COW meeting, I have seen the light!

First of all, the COWs do not want to keep the waterfront the way it looks now. The COWs do want to improve the waterfront; they just don’t want to give away public land to private developers. The NRA presentation I saw at the Firehouse last year exhibited what appeared to be two small buildings, which I assumed had a few condos in each. In reality, there are close to 34. Where will the parking be for these new condo owners? What happens to all of the envisioned tax income from these condos, if even half of the condos contain one child and the cost of sending a child to Newburyport public schools cost around $14,000/child per year? Future commercial buildings and development on surrounding and privately owned lots can more than supplement our tax base, not to mention bringing more business to our downtown area. Let’s not be penny wise and pound foolish.

Why would our administration be so weak at protecting public property on our waterfront (which represents the center of our city history) and yet spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to take away personal property rights from homeowners, in the name of historic preservation (i.e., LHD)? Government should be protecting the homeowners, citizens and parks in our city, not forcing taxpayers to spend their own tax dollars to sell our park to private developers. Our city officials need to start doing their job and protect our assets.

They need to start being better stewards of city revenue and property we already have. They should not be selling what previous generations have left for us and future generations to enjoy.

I encourage everyone to attend the COW’s new “roll-out” presentation Thursday, April 25, at 7 p.m. at the Newburyport Public Library. Let’s start thinking outside of the box, and put government back where it belongs, as servants of the people and protectors of our resources.

Lyndi Lanphear