The below document was written by Mayor Donna Holaday on March 20, 2012 in the form of a memo to the Newburyport City Council, explaining the rationale for paying MassDevelopment to design a scope of services to work with the NRA in redeveloping the waterfront.
It accompanied a budget request in the amount of $12,500 from the city’s free cash account to a professional services line item within the Office of Planning and Development.
The council approved the transfer by a vote of 7-2 (with Councilors Cronin and Jones opposed, and Councilors Connell and Derrivan absent). I can’t speak for other councilors but one of my motivations for approving the request last year is because, at the time, the council had approved the siting of a MVRTA parking garage off Titcomb Street.
I was sold on the belief that a parking structure would free the requirement of having parking spaces on the waterfront and that the land could be redeveloped for other uses. Whether aboveground or underground, the only knowledge I had in March 2012 was the “plan” would remove parking from the waterfront because there would be a garage somewhere else.
“Much public feedback has indicated a desire to increase open space on our central waterfront, and through this initiative we intend to make that vision a reality,” wrote the mayor in that memo. “It is important…that the City have an equal voice in any redevelopment plans for our central waterfront undertaken by MassDevelopment and the NRA.”
Where is the equal voice?
To me, defining “the City” is a combination of the administrative branch and the legislative/judicial branch. The equal voice must be both. That’s not happening.
When the city council paid John Burke to design the paid parking scenarios, he frequently updated the city council. When we paid George Woodbury to negotiate the purchase of streetlights, he also updated the city council. Where is Donald Powers? I’ve only seen him at the NRA meetings.
During the council meeting Monday night, Councilor Cronin asked non-city entities to seek approval when using the city seal or the city name. In other words, both the NRA and Union Studios must seek council approval when referring to any redevelopment a city plan.
There is no city plan. There is only a NRA plan.
But these are my thoughts. What are yours?