, Newburyport, MA


December 12, 2013

Our view: Some observations from Newburyport, Amesbury

A few observations from this week:

It was good to see the Newburyport City Council put its stamp of approval on a zoning amendment that is intended to speed along the development of a downtown hotel.

The move will expedite the planning process for a hotel in the area of Titcomb and Merrimac streets, on property owned by developer Steve Karp.

The city and Karp’s local development group have been talking for months about the conceptual plan for the hotel. It’s a long-awaited concept that can arguably provide benefits to Newburyport, though it is hard to completely endorse it until a detailed plan is presented.

The need for a downtown hotel was identified in the 1960s, in the earliest days of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority. It was one of the centerpieces of the NRA’s original plans to redevelop the waterfront. The days of a major development on the NRA land is clearly past, but the need for a hotel — and the foot traffic it will draw to the downtown throughout the year — remains.

We need look no farther than Newburyport’s coastal twin, Portsmouth, N.H., to see the economic benefits that a hotel provides. They create jobs and provide a customer base for downtown restaurants and shops. And they add a vibrancy that a tourist-driven downtown needs.

The public has not seen the design for Karp’s hotel, nor is it clear what other side deals may come of this — for instance, a small parking garage for city use. We look forward to seeing these details.

A story earlier this week on plans to crack down on recycling in Amesbury turned some heads. While no one wants officials snooping around in their trash, we think these kinds of “crackdowns” add some much-needed attention to the logic of recycling, and the need for residents to embrace it.

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