NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

January 21, 2014

Newbury officials very responsive to PI woes

To the editor:

As I read “In Newbury, anger, frustration over Plum Island’s woes,” Newburyport Daily News Jan. 15, I was struck by the hypocrisy of the “frustrated residents” airing their grievances regarding Plum Island beach erosion to the Newbury Board of Selectmen.

Since the beginning of the current erosion issues, which began in 2011, I have witnessed firsthand the extraordinary and admirable efforts the Town of Newbury has taken to work with these homeowners. Countless meetings have been held, town resources — such as police details, DPW crews, Town Hall staff, the conservation officer, building inspector and others — all working diligently trying to find a solution to this pressing problem and responding in full force when disaster struck. I wonder how many overtime hours the town has paid out attempting to aid this handful of residents. The town worked tirelessly with state representatives, the governors’ office and reticent state agencies in order to work out a solution that satisfied all parties. Unfortunately, no immediate resolution was attainable — so the homeowners took measures into their own hands, jeopardizing and undermining all the efforts that had been made.

Now that those measures have not worked, those same homeowners are “aggravated by what some felt was a lack of tangible support from local officials and an unprecedented level of ‘game playing’ coming from the state.” What do they expect? When a group takes the law into their own hands, should they then expect cooperation from the agencies whose regulations they have flaunted and disregarded? The town has done a fine job walking a tightrope between the demands of these homeowners and the state agencies they have to deal with on a regular basis. Some towns would have mollified those agencies by penalizing and preventing these homeowners’ actions. As Selectman Mountain stated, “It is their job (the selectmen) to consider what’s in the best legal interest of all 7,000 residents in town.”

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