Why the NRA Should Vote on Dissolution

The mission statement of the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority is “to revitalize blighted or deteriorated areas of the city,” reflecting the look of Inn Street and other downtown areas in 1960 when the NRA was formed.

Today, it owns two river-abutting parking lots and a fragment of open space, all of which could be improved but none of which are blighted or deteriorated.

During a May 2014 workshop convened by Mayor Holaday and attended by 100+ residents, 11 maps were crowdsourced and indicate waterfront land be void of residential or commercial structures. Here are links to see the maps and read a news story.

Since that event last year, the NRA is in the news to build a pop-up park and improve lighting.

Massachusetts law, under Chapter 121B Section 4, specifies that “whenever a redevelopment authority determines that there is no further need for its existence, and that all outstanding obligations of the authority have been satisfied, it may by a majority vote of the five members submit the question of its dissolution… to the municipal officers.”

I believe the NRA is an anachronism. I thank its members past and present for their volunteerism to the city but I think the time is now for the NRA to end.

I thank Councilors Bob Cronin and Larry Giunta for joining me in co-sponsoring a resolution that asks the authority to vote on dissolution. Note that this is not an order. We don’t have the jurisdiction to order them to do anything. Nor should we.

If there is an affirmative vote, the resolution also suggests NRA land is conveyed to City Hall until the new parking garage is built and then the land is conveyed again to the Newburyport Waterfront Trust.

I anticipate and hope for a lot of debate. Let’s talk about this in public session.

Charter rules indicate new measures cannot be voted upon in one session. This means the resolution will be introduced on Monday, July 13; but it will likely be held until a council vote on August 10.

The White House Challenges Us to Build a Startup in a Day — and I am Answering Their Call

“We believe an entrepreneur’s time is best spent developing innovative products and services, creating jobs, and growing local economies -— not navigating red tape,” said President Barack Obama. “While fair zoning rules, licenses, and permits are important to ensuring public safety and fair competition, it should not take more than a day for an entrepreneur to identify and apply, ideally through a single online tool, for all the licenses and permits he or she needs in order to responsibly launch a business.”

Newburyport City Hall processes about 100 business applications every year. The smallest percentage are for large companies. Most are for home businesses, startups leasing space, or sole proprietorships. A couple brick and mortar shops open every year and they’re included in this number but they’re not the majority, given the few shops opening annually.

Focusing on just DBA paperwork, you need to either print this PDF form from the city website or go to city hall and fill it out, pay $30 which is good for four years, and have your signature notarized.

Many applications are filed after someone opens a business checking account and the bank requires the paperwork.

The process takes a while.

It should take less than 24 hours — and that’s the concept behind the Startup in a Day initiative sponsored by the White House and managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, offering monetary awards to cities that can create online permitting tools.

I am convening a meeting TONIGHT, July 7, at 7 p.m. in the city hall auditorium to brainstorm ways to create this tool. If awarded $50,000 from the SBA, we’d have a year to create the tool and integrate it into city operations.

Hiking the Crow Lane Nature Trail

Sign on tree.

"I suppose the best way to describe the Crow Lane Nature Trail is to actually call it the In-between Trail. It weaves in and out of public and private properties, runs itself along the no longer used Crow Lane Roadway and ends up meeting with so many … [Continue reading]