Name: Greg Earls
Address: 25 Milk St.
Occupation: Director of construction, Lawrence Family Development and Education Fund/YouthBuild
Education: Master's in architecture, Southern California Institute of Architecture; Certificate program, Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies; bachelor's in business, University of Connecticut
Appointed or elected positions: Newburyport City Council, 14 years; License and Permit Committee; Joint Education Committee; Fruit Street Historical District Study Committee (past); Cable Advisory Committee (past); Newburyport Skate Park Construction Committee (past)
Civic organizations or activities: Destination Imagination coach/appraiser, 15 years; South End Neighborhood Watch; Brown School PTO; R.A. Nock PTO
1. What is the most important thing facing Newburyport residents in 2018?
It would be difficult to name a single most important issue facing the city in the coming year. There are many issues and each citizen has their individual concerns and opinions. However, the items that continue to rise to the top are advancing our schools, maintenance of the streets and sidewalks, keeping the city affordable, and the protection of our natural and historic resources. To achieve these goals, the council must work with the mayor in identifying and implementing new and alternative sources of revenue in order to not further burden property owners. Possibilities include rezoning and marketing of the industrial park for vertical growth, including a hotel/conference center and a revised residential trash collection system citywide.
2. What are three things you believe the City Council needs to accomplish by the end of 2018?
The three primary goals of the City Council must be fiscal responsibility, protection of our historical and natural assets, and strategic planning for the future. While there are many issues which will be facing the council, specific accomplishments must include identification of alternative revenue, which may be earmarked for school spending or street and sidewalk repair. Second, the council must develop a comprehensive downtown parking plan regardless of whether the parking facility is constructed, including an open central waterfront park. Also, but not finally, the council must be diligent in the rezoning of Waterfront West to ensure it has meaningful public access, is an asset to the citizens and provides connections to downtown and the waterfront park.
3. What is your vision of the Waterfront West property?
Waterfront West is an opportunity to construct mixed-use buildings with ways to the river and vibrant public spaces. The uses would include retail, small restaurants and residential with an affordable component. The current design includes a hotel on Merrimack Street which is, perhaps, the only positive aspect of the proposal. The buildings would be 3 to 3 ½ stories and not positioned, as now proposed, in a way as to create wind tunnels and uninviting ways. Where the project abuts the existing buildings bordering the Central Waterfront and Merrimack Street, there would be a connectivity so as to continue the urban fabric of downtown. As designed now, the proposed structures are grossly out of scale and appear to turn their back on the existing buildings, park and any potential development across the street.