, Newburyport, MA

November 8, 2013

Let's make waterfront an active seaport again

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

This weekend I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon alone with my oldest son. We shared a pizza at Oreganos. After lunch we walked down Inn Street to Eat Cake for cupcakes. There was no sharing there! It was a beautiful afternoon and we walked along the waterfront for a bit, and rounded the corner at the Custom House Museum. My son asked if we could go in. Always happy for a learning opportunity, I readily agreed. We walked around this gem of a museum and enjoyed all the boat models and maps and paintings.

Upstairs, we happened upon the “History of the Waterfront” exhibit. It was amazing to see the waterfront as the active seaport it once was. I was especially struck by a painting from the late 1800s that showed all the buildings that were along the water’s edge, and surrounding what is now Market Landing Park.

I got to wondering what the waterfront would be like today, if several of those old buildings had been spared from the ravages of urban renewal. Would a senior center be located in part of it? Would it be a place that seniors could socialize and enjoy the river even on the coldest February day? Would it be next to a preschool or a yoga studio? Would there be an artists’ coop? Would one building house a restaurant that boasted the best seafood and views in town? My son thought it would be cool to have an ice cream shop and a “giant toy store.”

Ah, the simple desires of an 8-year-old. I also wonder how people would react today if a group proposed knocking down those buildings that attracted locals and tourists alike, to build a big park. My guess is that there would be outrage. We need to allow the NRA to finish the job it was tasked to do far too many years ago. Let’s bring the Newburyport waterfront back to its active seaport status, with activities and a park we can all be proud of.

Michelle Piotrowski