To the editor:
Something that has really been bothering me about the waterfront debate is that there seems to be an assumption that buildings are an inherently bad thing. Well-designed and well-placed buildings can actually be a tremendous asset to a community, not only financially, but aesthetically as well. Well-designed buildings can be something that attracts people rather than repels people. They can be something that add to the beauty of a place.
Many visitors and residents come to downtown Newburyport, in part, to walk amongst the beautiful brick buildings. If the buildings in question are designed to fit in with the rest of downtown, to aid in the flow of foot traffic to the waterfront (as opposed to deterring foot traffic as the parking lots do), to offer an extension of the vibrant downtown, then I see buildings as an asset.
What is along the waterfront now is shameful — I think that is something on which we can all agree. This land was taken by eminent domain to be developed and it’s the mandate of the NRA to finish the job that was started so long ago. There were businesses on that land; it was not a park. But the plan that the NRA has put forth offers up a balanced solution. These aren’t “high-rise” buildings in this plan and this isn’t a “giant mall” we are talking about here. These are buildings that are designed to be mindful of the community that they are going to be placed in. And, don’t forget, there’s a large extension of the park as part of the plan as well.
We need to come together as a community with open minds to resolve this issue once and for all. If we are going to wait around for a consensus, I fear the dirt parking lots will remain for at least another 40 years and we will all lose.