, Newburyport, MA

November 27, 2012

Parking problems on the waterfront lots

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

The parking study commissioned by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority was done this July by the Union Studio of Providence, presented on Oct. 24 in City Hall. Their study of the central NRA waterfront lots concluded that currently there is no parking hardship there during the summer months unless there is a large weekend event.

They further concluded that these two parking lots to the west and east of the Firehouse abutting the Merrimack River and the boardwalk can accommodate the traffic which will use the proposed new structures, three connected with two additional buildings equals five to the west, two connected with buildings equals three to the east.

The size of these new 3 1/2-story buildings, as tall as the Firehouse, will be 69,850 square feet. There will be 33 private condominiums on the upper floors, 21,850 square feet of retail, business and restaurant space on the ground floors. The condos need 66 dedicated parking spaces, the retail 101.

According to the study, the footprints of these two massive buildings will take away 135 parking spaces from the existing 434.

Parking needs on these two lots will increase not only by new buildings, but also by the adjacent Brew Pub of 431 seats being built, the overflow of Michael’s and Black Cow, 420-440 plus 200 seat capacity. Union Studio’s solution to the traffic hardship, with the reduction in spaces and the increased use of 60 new units is as follows:

1. Waterfront visitors will use the city streets and existing pocket parks within a half mile or mile radius.

2. A parking lot will be developed underneath the tidelands at the Merrimac Street edge. Take a look at the 1800s maps of the waterfront that show tidelands running to Merrimac and Water streets. Photos show clipper ship bowsprits projecting over these streets.

3. The city should look into creating new parking areas/a garage within walking distance of the waterfront. A necessary solution we all agree.

What will be the cost of No. 1 and No. 3?

There is no cost analysis given by the NRA on their proposed development plans. None.

Landscaping the existing parking lots, expanding the park by the necessary 100 feet from the water’s edge and adding no new buildings is far more efficient than building car parks reserved for condo owners that could be under water. (Imagine the $$$ of these waterproof bunkers.)

The parking consultants cited Newport and Plymouth, historic seaport tourist destinations, as providing parking during summer months. Go take a look in August. Do you want Newburyport to have this kind of congestion fueled by shopping malls and condos closing off harbor views to culture visitors and inhabitants, completely changing our waterfront and its public enjoyment?

What is the NRA hiding in presenting two massive new buildings concealed by non-existent trees, Photoshopped from the height of a helicopter to look like Santa’s village, a Monopoly board of diminished unrealistic proportions.

Joanie Purinton

Member of Citizens

For an Open Waterfront