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Port in Progress

March 19, 2007

A Port in Progress

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Today in the Daily News you will see the first part of a unique project, "A Port in Progress."

It's a series of stories that we will publish weekly, over the next several months. Our goal is to tell the incredible story of how Newburyport fought the federal bulldozer of Urban Renewal and restored its downtown. We'll also focus on the people who became involved, the problems that were solved, the challenges that remain to this day, and how this recent past might affect the city's future.

We chose this time to run this series because recent events have made it clear that the next several months will be pivotal decision-making times for Newburyport's downtown. Consider:

r After nearly four decades, the fate of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority's waterfront dirt lots is likely to be decided. Plans have been submitted to make them into a waterfront park and parking lot.

r Steven Karp, the billionaire developer who owns the largest share of downtown Newburyport, has now bought all the private land along Newburyport's downtown waterfront. This places him in a position to complete the redevelopment of the downtown in ways that people a generation or two ago never envisioned.

r The public dialogue over preservation, and the future of Newburyport, is growing. As Newburyport approaches the next major stage of its downtown evolution, it seems important to recall how we got where we are, and what the community hopes for in the future.

For the past two-and-a-half months, the staff at The Daily News has been digging in places all over the city, from the well-cared-for basement archives of the Newburyport Public Library to the cobwebbed attic of City Hall, from our own extensive photo archives and microfilm, to the photo albums of Newburyporters who documented the downtown's fall and rise. And we've talked to many people who have shared their thoughts and recollections.

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Port in Progress

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