, Newburyport, MA

September 5, 2013

An invitation to make up your own mind

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Today, as I walked along the waterfront boardwalk, I saw something that amazed me. Two gentlemen had set up a table and chairs on the berm between the boardwalk and the dirt parking lot. They were playing chess and enjoying the view of the river. There is no other place in the park where these men could have set up their table so close to the water to enjoy their game. As they looked in one direction, they had a wonderful view of the river. How lucky we are to have such a gift! But just 10 feet in the other direction was a dirty, dusty parking lot. How unfortunate that what could be over an acre of new park space is used to park cars. That space could have chess tables,shaded grassy areas, trees and more — and be 100 feet from any parking lot!

The NRA proposal presented earlier this summer includes development of about 24,000 square feet of those dirt parking lots and would add about 56,000 square feet of new park space! There have been other plans for the waterfront, and to date, all have failed for one reason or another. This is not those plans! It’s a thoughtful, responsible proposal with a balance between development and additional open space. The buildings are set off from the park and well back from the boardwalk. They will add vitality to the park and the downtown — and the tax revenue they generate will pay to finally enlarge and finish the park, improve the parking lots and maintain both.

If you believe that the question of the waterfront is a choice between an “open waterfront” and a

“privatized waterfront,” I encourage you to not rely upon sound bites and slogans that imply that our

waterfront is under threat by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority. Educate yourself, attend

meetings (the next NRA meeting is on Sept. 18), reach out to the NRA. Ask questions of those who

support the proposal and those who oppose it. If the answers don’t sound right to you, ask more! Join the discussion at Learn where the mayoral candidates stand. Don’t let anyone tell you what to think about this issue; make up your own mind. In the end we may need to agree to disagree, and that’s OK — reasonable people may differ — so long as it is a disagreement based on facts. But whatever you do, don’t just assume that the best thing for Newburyport will happen without the involvement of its citizenry.

Joe DiBiase