, Newburyport, MA

May 13, 2013

A COW concept, not a COW plan

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Wow, I don’t even know where to begin in responding to David Strand’s letter concerning the Committee for an Open Waterfront’s alternative concept for the Newburyport Central Waterfront. To begin, there appears to be a misconception that we presented “the” plan for the central waterfront. This is not a COW plan, as Mr. Strand states, but rather, it is a COW concept. All of the details have not been worked out.

Our concept, as stated, presents an alternative approach for development of the waterfront that preserves all of the current open space, much of the existing parking and an expanded public park. Our cost estimate included only these three features. To pay for this development, our concept includes funding derived primarily from grants and private donations.

Our concept is significantly different from the NRA and Union Studios’ concept, with their reduced open space, significantly reduced parking and only minimally expanded public park. What’s more, the NRA concept includes selling/leasing portions of the central waterfront for condo and storefront development at the expense of existing parklands, parking spaces and, of course, open space.

Regarding my not speaking “confidently” about our concept, let me state “very confidently” that our concept includes all of the additional park, all of the preserved parking and all of the open space that we showed in our drawings. However, the completed central waterfront may not include the natural area or the wading pool and family area or possibly even the waterfront deck. These concepts were presented as features that could be included in a final plan to draw more people to the waterfront and to enhance their experience while they are there.

Alternatively, the NRA hopes to use new restaurants and shops to bring people to the waterfront. And, if they do, what happens to existing shops and restaurants in Market Square and on State and Pleasant streets? More urban blight perhaps? Either way, the final waterfront plan should be decided by the public, not by five appointed members of the NRA board.

Finally, our 168-page report, Funding the Waterfront Park Without Private Development, is not a signed check for developing the central waterfront. However, it is the result of many months of research that COW volunteers have conducted identifying over $17M of grant monies that can be applied for annually to fund a final Open Waterfront Plan. A better concept than NRA’s? I think so!

Lon Hachmeister

Vice president, Committee for an Open Waterfront