Mayor speaks of High St., parking and EEE on Local Pulse

RICHARD K. LODGE/Staff photoNewburyport Mayor Donna Holaday talks with Local Pulse host Joe DiBiase on Saturday’s show. 

NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna Holaday discussed the painted lines on High Street, parking on the waterfront, local cases of Eastern equine encephalitis and other city issues during Saturday morning’s broadcast of Local Pulse.

Host Joe DiBiase kicked it off by asking about the recent paint job on High Street. As previously reported, the city is looking into options to fix a long section of High Street, which had to be scraped because of uneven lines on the newly paved road.

“To end up with the gateway of our city looking like this, it’s incredibly frustrating,” Holaday said. 

The contractor, Hi-Way Safety Systems of Rockland, was hired through a regional contract by the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. As DiBiase mentioned and Holaday confirmed, the city does not have much choice in who it chooses for the striping.

“We still have a little more investigating to do about what our options are and the integrity of the road at this point,” Holaday said. 

She hopes to finish the job “before winter sets in” and insists taxpayers will not pay the cost to fix it.

DiBiase also brought up the petition to dissolve the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority and conflicting public opinions about wanting more parks, but also wanting more parking. 

“This isn’t something we thought of two years ago,” Holaday said of expanding the Newburyport Waterfront Trust and the removal of parking spaces.

“We, finally, after all these years have the opportunity, now, to dissolve the NRA,” she continued, “to build the park, turn some of the land back to the Waterfront Trust, ensure they have appropriate resources to take care of the property and get more people into the garage and out of all the cars circling downtown. We’ve got issues with our carbon footprint and traffic.”

While she believes it will take time for people to “change behavior” and utilize the Titcomb Street parking garage that opened in May, Holaday knows people will come around to it.

“I’m confident, especially when winter comes,” she said. “Wouldn’t you rather be parking in there, out of the elements, than on a dirt lot with the ice, potholes and rocks?”

DiBiase directed those with other questions about parking to go to cityofnewburyport.com/city-clerk.

Finally, Holaday addressed the local cases of EEE, a rare, mosquito-borne virus. 

On Friday night, Amesbury High School postponed the football game at Landry Stadium after the city director said a mosquito tested positive for EEE.

“It’s something we have to look at very carefully,” Holaday said, adding that she would discuss the matter with the health director on Monday and share more information soon.

“The most important thing is for people to understand this is a real threat,” she continued. “People should take precautions in the early evening hours and make sure they’re covered and using bug spray.”

Holaday is aware that some residents would prefer the city did not do any spraying due to the chemicals, but a move to do that would depend on the severity of the situation.

“It’s one of those things that you balance the risk and safety going forward,” she said.

Newburyport School Superintendent Sean Gallagher also appeared on the show to update listeners on issues such as the possible removal of class ranks and the ongoing discussion of a later school start for high school students.

Local Pulse airs live from 9 to 10 a.m. every Saturday from the newsroom of The Daily News on Liberty Street.

To listen live on Saturday, or to download previous shows, go to newburyportnews.com/LocalPulse.

Staff writer Heather Alterisio can be reached via email at halterisio@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3149. Follow her on Twitter @HeathAlt.

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