NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 14, 2013

Cost of Amesbury's Lower Millyard project was way overstated


Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Please accept this letter in response to the one penned by Mr. Buetow on March 11. On behalf of the Amesbury Carriage Alliance, I would like to clarify some information regarding the forthcoming City Council vote and the overall Lower Millyard investment.

For those that do not know, on the City Council’s agenda for March 12 was a first reading for “bond authorization of $725,000 for the design, engineering and construction of a public park on property owned by the City of Amesbury along the Back and Powow Rivers on Water Street.” Nowhere in this request is mention of “spending some $2.2 million of taxpayer money to fix up the Lower Millyard,” as Mr. Buetow incorrectly stated.

In fact, the updated total project cost is $1,276,404, from which $976,000 is expected to be reimbursed by state and federal grants — leaving a net exposure to the city of about $300,000. And, much of that investment could still be reimbursed to further minimize budgetary impact. These details were in a Daily News article on March 6 titled “Amesbury Mayor Kezer reveals new spending plan.”

The anticipated support of the City Council will also speak volumes to the private sector, which has already invested about $25 million in the Lower Millyard to preserve buildings, create jobs and improve neighborhoods. These investors are ready to invest much more, but their projects depend on the city cleaning up the area, moving the DPW and building Heritage Park, the latter of which is currently up for a vote.

In a nutshell, a favorable vote for the bond authorization of $725,000 will demonstrate the city is committed to the Lower Millyard. With that commitment, the city becomes eligible for much of the $976,000 in reimbursements — and many private investors will, in turn, move forward with their own projects.

I should also mention that private sector support for the Lower Millyard is also happening in quieter ways, such as the $20,000 that was recently pledged by dedicated residents and business owners to the Amesbury Carriage Alliance toward a feasibility study to determine the viability of a Carriage Museum at 29 Water St. This demonstrates their desire to see Amesbury reach its fullest potential.

Mr. Buetow is not alone in his confusion over the facts. In response, the Amesbury Carriage Alliance will soon launch an informational webpage, to be hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, and a survey for the benefit of our city councilors. On Wednesday, April 3, at 7 p.m. we will also hold an Information Night & Public Forum at the Senior Center, where people can hear from the mayor’s office and other passionate supporters.

In closing, with the expected support of the Amesbury City Council, the Amesbury Carriage Alliance believes continued redevelopment of the Lower Millyard will lead to improved quality of life for all Amesbury residents — with little-to-no budgetary impact — thanks to an ardent mayoral plan, devoted citizens, an active business community and anticipated reimbursements at the state and federal level. We ask for a favorable vote of this investment to bring us closer to hosting a regional waterfront hub of recreation, history, commerce, information and opportunity that will help to lower taxes and contribute to the city’s economy for years to come.

Matt Sherrill

Amesbury Carriage Alliance