, Newburyport, MA

January 15, 2013

Moseley Park lot should be open in winter

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

As Newburyporters who frequent Moseley Woods are painfully aware, the city has elected to block vehicular access to the park during the colder months. This practice started sometime after improvements were made in 2004 to the access road at the intersection of Merrimack Street, Spofford Street, and Moseley Avenue.

Since that time, the city has claimed the park is officially open and encouraged people to park on the street. From my observation, usage of the park has increased significantly over the past few years. Dog walkers, children using the playground, football games, picnics, bird and eagle watchers, hikers- all great uses of a wonderful public resource on the banks of the Merrimack. This is precisely what Charles Moseley had in mind when he donated the land to the city back in the 1920s.

The rationale for the closure is presumably the cost of snow plowing. Yet gate closure is random and not correlated with the presence of snow cover. Several frequent users of the park, including me, have tried to get a reasonable explanation of the policy from the city. What we have heard in return is a lot of finger pointing; the Moseley woods commission, the parks commission, the city council, the mayor, the DPS head- all seem to think the other has the responsibility. The parks commission has agreed to talk about the issue at their February meeting. City Councilor Ari Herzog has acknowledged the issue on his Facebook page.

This is about access to a public asset. The park belongs to taxpayers and we deserve to safely access it. Worse, telling people to park on a busy street leaves the city open to liability in the event of an accident on Ferry Road or Spofford Street. Both are busy spots and both have a long record of crashes. In 2003, Trista Zinck was killed and her friend, Neil Bornstein, was badly injured by a drunk driver at the very spot where people are now parking and walking in the road to access Moseley Woods.

The cost of a few passes of a plow during a few winter storms is minuscule in comparison to the cost of death, serious injury, property damage and lawsuit with which the city is now gambling.

Chris Janson