, Newburyport, MA

May 22, 2013

COW plan far from being dead in the water

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

When I read David Strand’s letter (May 6) concerning the Committee for an Open Waterfront’s presentation, I, too, was at a loss on the best way to respond to what I perceived as a letter written by someone who already seemed to have his mind made up before he left the library that this was a 21st century version of Seward’s Folly, doomed to fail.

I’ll begin by admitting that I am not a business woman. However, I am looking at this issue from a practical perspective. I think any good business professional needs to ask the question, “Is it really good business sense to build condos in a floodplain, in light of the destruction witnessed in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and, closer to home, the loss of multiple residences on Annapolis Way?” If such a storm of that magnitude did occur, the cleanup would be costly, and insurance rates would skyrocket to cover those costs. Any businesses already struggling would likely be forced to close their doors.

My next point: The businesses that are already here would be negatively impacted, with added competition. They are already doing the storefront shuffle, jockeying for the best locale to stay alive. Is it really good business sense to toss another monkey wrench into the works and drive these people out, and lose revenue that is so highly lauded?

I would also like to point out that Newburyport is not known as “The T-Shirt City” or “The Latte City.” There is nothing wrong with either of those items — but long before either one of those things were in existence, Newburyport was known, and is still referred to, as “The Clipper City.” It’s about history and above anything else, should be first and foremost. It works for other cities, i.e., Portsmouth, N.H., and Mystic, Conn.; why can’t it work here?

Mr. Strand made a comment about the 168-page funding plan as a concept that was dead in the water. I would have to say that 168 pages is far from being dead in the water. It tells me that preserving open space and finding ways to do so is very much alive and well, and there are many people who share that common belief, and who are not worshippers of brick and mortar alone.

I’ll add one last comment. I was in attendance at both COW presentations. Both times, I heard audible gasps of disbelief behind me when the 3-D movie of the proposed buildings were shown. It left me wondering if those audience members were also questioning the business sense of this venture.

Laurel Allgrove

Member, Committee for an Open Waterfront, Inc.