shipbuilders and mariners and artificers
who settled the Waterside community shared
a vision ~ a timeless agenda memorialized in the Waterside
people's petition which ~ granted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony
General Court under the provincial governor's seal on February 4, 1764
~ resulted in the organization of the separate town of Newburyport. And
so it was that the fifth generation of the Waterside people would formulate
in Motion for generations to follow.
And so it is, as the Waterside people mark their thirteenth generational
Web page offers a measure of change ~ a benchmark
corroborated by the City of Newburyport Office of Planning and Development
(OPD) ~ which describes their "doings" as follows:
overall goal of the Office of Planning and Development is to enhance
Newburyport's physical environment and improve the quality of life
for all who live, work, and visit in Newburyport.
Planning Office helps to translate into action the goals, objectives
and vision for Newburyport as articulated by its residents and their
elected and appointed Officials. Planning Office staff seeks community
input and ideas in order to identify and reflect common goals, and
advise elected and appointed officials. Office staff develops plans,
policies, and projects to guide our City's physical and economic development,
affordable housing, historic preservation, and environmental conservation.
The Office works to solve problems, and create new places and opportunities
for people to come together and enjoy our special community.
Indeed, Newburyport is a special place, rich in natural resources and
historic architecture, both publically and privately owned. Yet, it
is the people who "come together" in "Newburyport's physical
environment" that make this a truly special community. Granted,
community in the work (link within)
encompasses both building and stumbling blocks ~ for it is acknowledged
that building and maintaining that "City
upon a Hill" can be a Sisyphean task. The foundation for progress
must begin with solid groundwork and a firm footing ~ then built, stone
by stone. Towards that end ...
City of Newburyport planned and developed a number of ambitious policies
and projects since the Waterside Plan in
Motion was launched anew in 1999 ~ using as its guideline the City's
Master Plan which was completed in 2001, just as Newburyport marked
its 150-year milestone as a city form of government. These are benchmarked
and remarked as follows:
Planning Processes and Implementation Plans
Master Plan - With its motto "Shaping our Future, Honoring
our Past" ~ the City's Municipal Master Plan, completed in September
2001 with extensive community involvement, offers a guideline for
managing growth and development. By analyzing its build-out potential
and evaluating infrastructure needs and considering ways and means
to better shape future development ~ the Master Plan's guidelines
have been codified with new zoning ordinances ~ and implemented using
site plan review and demolition delay ordinances in an effort to encourage
preservation of historic structures. The link
within provides a log of the accomplishments during the four years
(2002 - 2006) of Planning Director Nick Cracknell's "translation
into action its goals, objectives and vision."
Land Use Plan - As a corollary process to the Municipal Master
Plan, the City initiated a $32,000 planning process in 2003 (funded
primarily by a state grant) for the southern portion of the community
that contains Newburyport's last undeveloped land as well as the industrial
park and Route 1 gateway/commuter rail station (link
without to LaserFiche Document Processing System).
Strategic Plan - Waterfront Strategic Plan Additionally, in the spring of 2003, the City
hired a consultant team for a $50,000 harbor and waterfront plan update
(funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management)
which focused on updating zoning to encourage appropriate new development
in the Waterfront Mixed Use and Waterfront Marine Dependent zones. As a consequence, the Waterfront West Overlay District zoning ordinance was developed.r
[The final version of the Waterfront West Overlay District zoning ordinance presented at January 5, 2005 Planning Board meeting included several edits to the original document on January 4. Based upon the public and board's input, additional edits were made on January 12, 2005. The ordinance, including changes to the WWOD, was subsequently presented for its first reading at at the January 31, 2005 City Council meeting (link without). At the February 14, 2005 City Council meeting, before its second reading, a motion to redact Section VII.A (pages 13 - 15 regarding off-street parking) of this WWOD zoning amendment was made by the Planning and Development Committee, effectively sending this section back to the Planning Board for review. As recorded at that City Council meeting's minutes found at this link within ~ given this redaction "with Councillors then expressing their support this zoning amendement and the process by which the community was able to have input into these amendments. On a roll call vote 11 yes ordinance passed second and final reading."]
Plan Review - The City updated and revised a site plan review ordinance
to clarify and consolidate a comprehensive permitting and review process
for development projects in Newburyport, intended to protect the City's
significant architectural legacy ~ implementing a demolition delay
ordinance for historic structures. (See links from the OPD Web page
on the City
Street Overlay District -In 2002-2003, the City worked closely with
landowners, developers, and neighborhood groups to appropriately restore
and redevelop historic homes and add new housing in the densely developed
historic Federal Street area ~ and has used this process as a model
for subsequent projects, including the recent Towle condominium development
on Merrimac Street, adjacent to the old Towle factory which was restored
a decade ago and converted into office space.
Information Systems - The City has developed a comprehensive GIS
to assist in planning and the efficient delivery of services to the
public. Elements include the City's utilities, landbase information
such as topographic contours, wetlands, and forested areas, as well
as buildings, roads, and parcels.
Community Development Block Grant Fund (CDBG) - In the years 2002
and 2003, the city received grants of $400,000 and $625,000 (respectively)
from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
to undertake housing rehabilitation, social services, and public facilities
benefiting low and moderate income residents.
Housing - The City selected a developer for the development of 22
units of housing - with 15 affordable units - on a vacant and blighted
municipally-owned parcel of land on Merrimac Street.
Access - The CDBG program has recently managed the installation of
a number of new curb cuts/wheelchair ramps in the downtown area.
to Municipal Facilities
Library - The City recently completed a comprehensive renovation
of and addition to the cherished Public Library, assisted by a $2.1
million grant from the MA Board of Library Commissioners. The overall
project cost was $7.65 million, underwritten by private donations
and a tax override.
School Renovation/Expansion - Supported by a grant from the School
Building Assistance program and a tax override, this $34 million project
renovated and expanded the beloved high school. The school reopened
in the fall of 2002 while final work continued, and in 2006, the contractor
and the City are still in the midst of arbitration and litigation
to resolve issues of incomplete and/or unsatisfactory work.
the City reevaluates the
Long Term Elementary (Building Needs) Plan (see below) ~ a number
of needful interim measures have been taken to improve the elementary
and middle school. To open the school year in the 2004, the City undertook
long-needed replacement of the interim modular classrooms and other
important maintenance at the Bresnahan Elementary School.
the needs of the Rupert A. Nock Middle School cannot be ignored. The
City Council recently approved funds for necessary repairs to the
middle school's roof. When those repairs are completed this summer,
the new science lab project ~ largely funded by the Institution
for Savings Charitable Foundation grant ~ will proceed, ready
for the when school commences in the fall of 2006. In tandem, using
private fundraising, the RAN Middle School will pursue its Courtyard
Project which is to be dedicated in the memory of teacher Nicki Staszewski.
has been approved to fund the needful restoration of City Hall's brownstone
facade, with the bond to be served using Community Preservation Funds,
a 2% tax override approved by the community and matched by the State.
Meetings with the architects and restoration consultants will begin
April 2006, with expectations that the project itself will begin mid-July.
Island Water/Sewer Improvements - Working with the Town of Newbury
to provide water and sewer service to Plum Island, the $24 million
project is well underway. Breaking ground in the spring of 2004, the
first phase of connections will begin sometime in 2006. Funded by
a betterment fee assessed the new users, no-interest financing is
being provided via the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
Improvements - In addition to improvements to the aging water
pumping stations, the City has made progress in developing and implementing
a comprehensive stormwater management plan and regulatory program
to minimize the adverse effects of stormwater on water resouces ~
in order to meet the water quality standards for rivers, streams,
lakes and wetlands in the City and its vicinity, especially by preventing
discharges of untreated wastewater and stormwater to these ecosystems.
Boardwalk Renovation and Extension - The City reconstructed the Waterside's
primary attraction: A boardwalk which ~ when completed in the late
1970s ~ became the heart of the community. The project which repaired
the deteriorating structure and extended the eastern-most and western-most
historic wayes to the Waterside to
connect with the downtown was funded jointly by the City, State and
local donations. Construction on this $2.4 million project was completed
in the spring of 2003, and rededicated in memory of the late Mayor
Peter Matthews (link within). The
first revolving exhibit of contemporary sculpture on Somerby's Landing
would be organized that fall (link
Street Renovation - Partially funded through grants from the Commonwealth's
MHD and EOTC, the City resurfaced historic High Street, one of Newburyport's
primary arteries, and improved univeral access in a project that cost
at least $1.4 million. Work on the roadway surface was completed in
2003-4, with streetscape and pedestrian improvements incorporated
into the design. In concert with the Tree Committee, an effort to
plant trees along the streetscape.
and Recreation and Open Space
Park Revetment - The City also completed the reconstruction of a revetment
to prevent further riverside erosion at Cashman Park, along with a
new pedestrian pathway along the river's edge and improved boat ramps
and disabled-access fishing docks. Community involvement resulted
in the improvements to the neighborhood children's park. And as a
consequence of negotations during the adjacent Towle condominium project,
the developer has offered to move an historic barn to the site, which
may provide long-awaited storage, a first step to implementing a community
boating program at this location.
Mall Promenade Restoration - The City received a matching grant from
the state DEM Historic Landscape Program to restore the historic promenade
on Bartlet Mall, its access and accoutrements, and restore the ecosystem
of Frog Pond. Private funding had been raised in cooperation with
the City Improvement Society to complete the renovation project. Compromise
reached in the spring of 2006 regarding changes to the Kelley School
playground area brings the project closer to completion: a stunning
Woods - The City received a matching grant from the state's Division
of Conservation Services for a $200,000 project to restore the Moseley
Woods park. The project, which began in the summer of 2003 and is
now completed, offers a tranquil respite along the Merrimack River
nearby the Chain Bridge and Deer Island.
Fields Construction - As part of the development of Cherry Hill, the
City secured a portion of the property for soccer fields and (potentially)
a West End Elementary School. Leased to the Newburyport Youth Soccer
Association, new playing fields were constructed with funds raised
privately. The City and the NYSA are also examining the feasibility
of reconstructing the playing fields at Cashman Park and considering
Improvements - The City has been working systematically with neighborhood
groups to renovate all of its playgrounds with new equipment, and
continues to assist with projects that will be constructed with privately
Park - The City is working with the Massachusetts Electric Company
to improve Perkins Park's tennis courts and ballfield in conjunction
with a hazardous waste site remediation project in 2003 and 2004.
(North) Pasture - In partnership with the Trust
for Public Lands the City acquired the 102-acre North Pasture
from Gotham Holdings (see link
without) ~ bonding monies for this acquisition, the Rail Trail
and the Herrick property, with that bond to be serviced by funds from
Preservation Act. In the spring of 2006, with a state-required
management plan completed for the newly acquired Herrick property
~ reclaimed by Newbury and Newburyport as open space designated for
passive recreation. The common ground will be heretofore known as
Trail - With funding assistance from two Massachusetts Highway Department
grants, the City has negotiated with landowners to acquire land and/or
permit use to design a bicycle and pedestrian trail which will link
the Newburyport commuter rail station with downtown Newburyport, the
waterfront and various neighborhoods. In late 2005, Community
Preservation Act funds were used to procure the Guifford property,
a key portion of the trail loop.
Considerations on the Horizon
Center - The City is working with the State to obtain funding and
secure a site for construction of a new Senior Center, which is estimated
to cost a total of $1.5 million. In March 2006, overtures were made
by the YWCA to locate and fund a multi-use facility, and will be given
As an alternative approach, a multi-use, multi-generational center
would satisfy the need for a community center ~ and provide space
for all generations of the Waterside people to interact together or
as independent groups.
current administration has targeted the fall of 2006 as a timeline
to reevalate the approach to the Long
Term Elementary Plan to address building needs.
Parking - With the assistance of a state PWED grant, during the library
renovations and expansion, the City acquired an adjacent property
(gas station on the corner of State and Harris Streets) and constructed
a municipal off-street parking facility. In addition, the 1996 Transportation
Bond Bill contained a $5 million authorization (extended to 2006)
for establishment of a structured parking facility in Newburyport.
an extensive site selection process, the City worked with local officials,
landowners, and funding agencies, but the proposal failed to gain
acceptance, and lost traction with the 2005 political cycle. Under
a new administration, the community must reconsider a short and long-term
plan for municipal downtown parking, with a goal of moving a portion
of the parking from the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (NRA)
central waterfront lots. Distributing a survey to residences with
the city census this spring, the NRA will evaluate the results and
work in concert with City officials to implement a strategy, seeking
consensus on what makes common (and environmental) sense for what
is considered the crown jewel of Newburyport.
further still, in regards to the environment, Newburyport may become
a showcase for alternative and renewable energy ~ through public and private projects (examples of the latter
being the 375 solar panel installation at The Tannery and newly
constructed Mill No. 5) along with expansion into wind turbine and hydro-power