NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 15, 2013

All that glitters is not gold…


Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

The newest developers putting pressure on our present mayor want to build more shops and condos downtown, in our waterfront park. The proposed contemporary commercial buildings will in block river views, disfigure a historic downtown, and take up public open space that is protected, in trust, for Newburyport citizens. It is not a good trade.

Has our city government forgotten that in the 70s, citizen advocates famously “stopped the bulldozers” when developers tried to build a strip mall downtown. By resisting this kind of ugly development Newburyport citizens gained national attention, an attractive historic downtown, and lots of money from the U.S. Treasury.

Presently we hear that NRA property, placed in trust for the betterment of life of Newburyport citizens, may be sold or leased to … a private developer! There is apparently new surge of people who are lead to believe that more buildings will add to the revenue of our city and help our present shopkeepers make more money.

Preliminary calculations reveal that annual tax revenue gained from the two or three new commercial buildings proposed on the waterfront would be minimum at best, unless even more development is allowed. So, what if those two or three proposed buildings are attached together, maybe a fourth added, and then an access road thrown in for the new waterfront mall and hotel? It could happen. In fact, that is the only development scenario possible for adding a greater revenue stream for the city that makes a difference.

The point is if we place more buildings in our central downtown open space we would only loose things more precious in the long run; free-flowing pedestrian and automotive traffic, visual and physical access to the river from the city, and, available waterfront parkland. Citizens like myself are not anti-development, but all that glitters is not gold.

Before the city and the NRA get hyper-focused on yet another attempt at commercial enterprise at the expense of our open space, our historic downtown, and our protected riverside lets think, again. What do we want and where do we want it?

Elizabeth Petty

Newburyport