Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Obviously this had been a busy time for me and I’m lagging on an update so here goes!
The Master Plan continues to creep forward. The City Council (Planning and Development Committee, Committee of the Whole) and Planning Board met for the first public hearing last evening. Residents commented on in-fill and enforcement issues among other comments about water resource protection, resiliency, congestion and quality of life. The general consensus was the draft needs much work and voting members directed City Staff to make changes. Next meeting is June 7.
Budget season is upon us with workshops scheduled for May 16, 17, 18, 23, 25 and if needed June 1. The City website breaks down the times for each department but are usually subject to change.
Tonight are scheduled City Council committee meetings for Evergreen Golf Course at 5:30 followed up by a Waterfront West Overlay District meeting at 7:00. Most likely Evergreen will be sent back to the full Council for Monday’s meeting while WWOD will not as there is much work that committee has to do.
As for the status of the proposed parking garage, City Council has yet to be presented with a cost appraisal detailing the worth of the property to be purchased. A Purchase and Sale agreement has also yet to be presented to Council. Further, we have not received up to date construction cost estimates. These are an integral of the decision making process when compared to a recent cost estimate for the needed sewer lift station on Graf Road. The single bid received was $2 million dollars (25%) over the cost estimate presented in the request for proposal. City Council has not met formerly on the garage to ask questions. Answers are needed on the initial traffic study such as why it did not address the Route 1 intersection at Merrimac Street or the parking lots directly across the street; design, material and a myriad more.
The City Council ad-hoc committee on the central waterfront will report to the full Council Monday night. Voting members moved to report out 5-0. We are seemingly at the goal line and by my guesstimate we have 98% consensus; unfortunately some parties can nix the deal unilaterally on the other 2%. We are the closest we have ever been to settling our Central Waterfront issue and while complicated it is my opinion the residents of Newburyport want to see open parkland and finished parking lots on THEIR waterfront now. Councillors have worked diligently to this end but it is now up to the Waterfront Trust, Settlors and NRA whether this fails or the city (RESIDENTS) get what they want and deserve. It is a negotiation, all parties must give to get.
I have met with DPS and provided areas of sidewalk and roadway that need attention; which is in essence the entire Ward and City. The final decisions are made by city staff and the administration and are based on need but also scope of work (cost); what can be done with the current finances. I prioritized Dove, Washington, Merrimac, Monroe, Russia, Olive, Johnson and a crosswalk on Kent near Cushing Park. Warren Street is to be repaved as part of a 700 foot sewer project to reduce storm water entry into the system. There is also a state money available in the safe routes to school program for High Street. Hale Street paving has been pushed back to July so schools will not be impacted.
There is a presentation about upgrades at Cushing Park slated for 6:00 at City Hall presented by the Parks Comm. The Harbormaster office will be dedicated on May 11 with a 6:00 PM Ribbon Cutting.
These are some of the highlights, there is so much more…Plum Island, Sewer Plant, the aforementioned Graf Road lift station, flooding on Phillips Drive…