AMESBURY — Concerned that residents are only getting one side of the story when it comes to Mayor Kassandra Gove’s plan to build affordable housing on Cynthia Road, some abutters are expressing their points of view.
Members of Neighbors of Cynthia Road gathered at the home of lead organizer Brad Matthews on Thursday to explain why the group is doing all it can to prevent property along the street from being used for the development of affordable housing.
Neighbors of Cynthia Road was formed in early July, less than a month after Gove introduced her bill proposing to use two parcels on Cynthia Road to develop affordable housing units. The group spoke during the City Council meeting Sept. 13 when the bill was announced, and its members have been present at various subcommittee meetings ever since.
Matthews said he believes the bill came from a good place.
“A good, really well-intentioned administration with a good cause to support, which is affordable housing, has been spending a bunch of time trying to figure out how to get that to happen,” Matthews said. “And they’ve done a whole lot of work over the last couple years, trying to get that to happen, and it hasn’t been terribly successful and that is frustrating for them.”
Matthews said the group has two issues, one with process and the other with content. One of the main issues with process was where the authority went.
“And so we were just noticing a couple things on process,” Matthews said. “One was that all the decision-making authority rested with one person, which isn’t necessarily healthy in almost any kind of organizational situation or governmental situation because it means that one person’s opinion gets to rule.”
The concerns that abutters have with content are in regard to risk factors surrounding the property, which included tree roots that have sunk into the foundations of buildings, potential water runoff and flooding, and potential contaminants. One major concern was the elimination of green space, which helps to cool down the neighborhood.
Judith Flaherty, a member of Neighbors for Cynthia Road, said she would hate to see any of the trees taken down.
“I just think that would be like bloody murder to just fell those for a bunch of foundations and driveways,” Flaherty said.
Another concern of the abutters has been a lack of consistent communication with the administration.
“We went, talked to the mayor, we had good conversation, a couple of us went and talked to the mayor after the first reading, and that was an interesting conversation,” Matthews said. “But since that moment, knowing all of our concerns that have come out and we’ve gone to all the different committee meetings and all the different stuff in letters to the committee members and all these other things, not one person from the city administration has ever reached out to us.”
Gove could not be reached for comment.
Matt Petry covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.