Could we collaborate with the Coast Guard and give them a more visible presence, i.e., a Coast Guard weekend with their boats on display? There are many ideas to brainstorm opportunities on the waterfront that do not include erecting condos and more shops, but encourage alternate uses in the ones we already have.
For example, the building I work in is portable, set up with the intention of being moved away from flooding tidewaters or storms. This might be a useful strategy for our potential new harbormaster’s quarters, a movable building suited to its ever-changing, tidal water site and adaptable to winter and summer activities.
As for commercial buildings, can we think outside the Waterfront Park? Could there be an empty building in the industrial park or land available there, near the train station? Yes, there is land available; five buildable acres. High-end shops and commuter services could be developed right there, condos, too, perhaps a boardwalk through the other six acres of marshland, extending the rail trail. And all would be perfectly accessible to a multitude of shoppers, walkers and commuters via Route 1, the rail trail and the train station.
It makes sense, and this kind of overarching look at development keeps private enterprise off our priceless open waterfront. Perhaps there is a building in the industrial park ready to be converted into a shopping mall? Isn’t the industrial park the best option for a big box store or a mall to settle in and pay taxes in Newburyport?
I work on the riverbank, in a portable building, on Karp-owned property that most likely cannot be built on because it is landfill, in a flood zone and on a tidal plain. Are we to give Karp and Joe Leone and the NRA our open space on the waterfront, including parking spaces and our public access ways to the river, to profit from? I do not believe that is a fair trade. Let’s think outside the park.
Dave Henwood lives in Newburyport.