Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Shoeman Water Project

Dear Newburyport families and friends,

The students of Newburyport have collected, bound, and bagged over 4,000 pairs of shoes since March 3rd. We promised the Shoeman Water Project, a non-profit organization, that we could easily collect 5,000+ pairs. We know that we can get to our goal.  Over the vacation, please empty your closets of gently used shoes (all types) and drop them off at the following locations.

Locations are
  • in front of the Superintendent’s office,
  • the Nock Middle School office, 
  • and other school offices.  
If that is not convenient for you during vacation, please have your son/daughter bring them in to school April 28th. The shoe drive ends on May 1st with our 6th graders participating in a Walk-a-Thon.

As a community, we are confident that our efforts will alleviate the pressures of those living without clean water.
Thank you.
If you have any questions, please  email:
 ecarroll@newburyport.k12.ma.us  or emenesale@newburyport.k12.ma.us

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sierra Club on Plastic Bags

This is the Sierra Club's testimony last year on a House bill on plastic bags....and the testimony highlights several of the points of controversy in the Newburyport discussion.  The bill is still in committee in the House.

I made a few highlights of my own.

from http://www.sierraclubmass.org/lac/t2013/testimony%20-%20plastic%20bags%20H787.pdf

Massachusetts Sierra Club
10 Milk Street, Suite 632
Boston MA 02103-4621

July 3, 2013

Chairwoman Anne M. Gobi
Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
State House, Room 473F, Boston, MA 02133

Chairman Marc R. Pacheco
Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture
State House, Room 312B, Boston, MA 02133

Re: Sierra Club Testimony in support of H787, Related to Plastic Carryout Bags

Dear Chairwoman Gobi, Chairman Pacheco, and Honorable Members of the Committee,

On April 22, 2013, the Sierra Club testified before this committee in support of a ban on
plastic bags. The bill was reported favorably by the committee. The Sierra Club
enthusiastically supports this action. Below is a short description of the main differences
between H787 and H3438 (the bill that was recommended favorably by this committee).
Thank you Chairwoman Gobi, Chairman Pacheco, and Members of the Committee for
providing this opportunity to offer our comments on bills H787 and H3438, related to
reducing the use of plastic checkout bags in Massachusetts. We wish to express our support
in favor of this legislation.

The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots non-profit and non-partisan
environmental organization in the country, with over 1.4 million members and supporters
nationwide. Its chapter in Massachusetts has over 22,000 members throughout the state and
a history of protecting the environment that spans more than forty years. We work to create
healthy, vibrant communities through support of clean air and water; clean energy; recycling
and waste-elimination; and the preservation of the Commonwealth’s most treasured forests,
parks and open spaces.

There are differences between H.787, the filing by Rep. Denise Provost, and H3438. We
hope that the legislature will consider these proposals.

Bag Thickness: H3438 allows an exemption of plastic bags with a thickness of greater than
2.25 mils (thousandths of an inch). Further research shows that some single-use disposable
plastic bags could be improperly exempted, thus bypassing this bill’s intent. The Sierra Club
recommends consideration of Rep. Provost’s suggested standard of 3.0 mils.
Store Exemptions: The Sierra Club has been contacted by small stores that seem to fall
into a gray area of regulation. Rather than allowing the state to get unnecessarily bogged
down with a difficult regulatory situation, the Sierra Club recommends amending H3438 by
adopting Rep. Provost’s suggested definition of retail stores, thereby eliminating the
confusion surrounding store exemptions.

Possible Bioplastic Exemptions: The Sierra Club has been made aware that the bioplastic
specified in H3438 as exempt is not currently available in North America. We therefore
recommend amending H3438 by adopting Rep. Provost’s suggested no-bioplastic

Below is the testimony as submitted on April 22, 2013.
These bills would ban polyethylene and other types of plastic carryout bags in retail stores. It
would not limit other types of bags, such as those used in a market’s vegetable aisle.
Plastic bags cost society a lot more than the price retailers are currently paying to provide
them. There is no need for this environmental expense. Simple alternatives such as reusable
shopping bags are available and already used in many stores throughout Massachusetts.
Single-use plastic carryout bags should be banned because:
• Plastic bags are so light and capture airflow so well that even when properly
disposed of, they often blow away and become litter. Plastic bags are a unique form
of litter in that they can end up tangled in trees, causing visual blight and other
problems. The City of Los Angeles found that plastic bags account for 25% of litter in
their storm drains. Bags easily escape from garbage trucks, landfills, boats, and the
hands of everyday consumers – and are then carried into lakes and waterways, and
eventually into the ocean. Plastic bags make up the third most prevalent type of litter
from land-based sources found on U.S. coasts.
• Plastic bags harm wildlife. The bags are often mistaken as food by both
domesticated and wild animals. Birds may also use them for nesting material with
dangerous results. Untold numbers of animals die per year by ingesting plastic
bags. These animals typically suffer painful deaths, choking on the plastic or having
it impede digestion Plastic bags entangle and sometimes strangle turtles,
whales, sea lions, seals, birds, and fish among other species.  Many of these
animals are already threatened due to over-fishing and/or habitat loss. The list of
local animals threatened by plastic bags includes green turtles that nest on
Nantucket and right whales that feed off the Massachusetts coast line.
• Plastic bags do not biodegrade and although they do break apart through
mechanical action and photodegradation in the presence of light, these processes
take up to 1000 years to complete. When the bags finally do break down, they do not
dissolve into benign substances; they just fracture into smaller and smaller bits called
“microplastics.” These small particles present a tremendous long-term danger, as
these particles displace food supplies in our oceans. They have a nearly identical
density of seawater so their removal is not possible. Once microplastics enter our
oceans, they will stay there.
Only 5.2% of our plastic bags are recycled. This problem requires a nonrecycling
solution primarily because plastic bags are an extremely low-value product.
The difficulty in collecting, sorting and controlling for the quality of plastic bags makes
recycling this product cost-prohibitive.

For all of the above reasons, single-use plastic bag consumption needs to be heavily
reduced. Because plastic bags are virtually cost-free and convenient, legislation will be
necessary in order to change the behavior of consumers and the retail industry. Voluntary
efforts thus far have come up short.

All these noted bills allow the use of paper bags without any fees or restrictions. In our
region, almost all paper bags are made up of 80% recycled content – some have 100%
recycled content. They’re also recycled by consumers at a very high rate, enjoying an
existing structure to recycle them efficiently. Although paper has a higher initial CO2
footprint, it doesn’t kill animals, persist in the environment, or wreak the kind of permanent
environmental damage that plastics do.

H.696 proposes exceptions for two types of plastics derived from organic sources: ASTM
D6400, specifying a compostable plastic which breaks down into CO2 and water, and ASTM
D7081, which does the same in a marine environment. While both of these types of bags
biodegrade, they are not without significant drawbacks. They are made from starchy plant
materials, typically corn. Using these to circumvent our current habit of HDPE bags would
divert badly needed resources from the agricultural system. Our use of ethanol in gasoline
drove up corn prices outside the US, and making our plastic bags out of corn would
undoubtedly have a similar effect. The real answer lies with decreasing our dependency on
all disposable single-use bags.

A number of manufacturers are promoting so-called “oxo-degradable” or ASTM D5272 bags.
ASTM D5272 does not measure the environmental aspects of the product, but only its ability
to withstand sunlight exposure. ASTM D5272 bags are NOT biodegradable, but simply
degradable – meaning that they break into small bits. Furthermore, it appears that the vast
majority of these bags are made from HDPE (in varying percentages). Although some
companies promote their ASTM D5272 bags as degrading into non-toxic or inert particles,
this does not mean they are environmentally benign.

As a response to public pressure against plastic bags, on March 12, 2009, the Mass Food
Association entered a voluntary agreement with the Mass DEP to commit major
supermarkets to a 33% decrease in plastic bag use by the year 2013. A 33% reduction, if
realized, would rank us last in effectiveness among all places that have enacted ANY
regulation concerning plastic bags – even below Botswana and Burma. However, the Sierra
Club has received reports from across the state of no change in behavior at supermarkets.
No evidence has been provided to support a change in the industry, nor has an independent
body verified any change in bag use. Additionally, the performance data referenced to
support voluntary action is gathered by the supermarkets’ lobby firm and is not audited.
An inspection of many checkout stations at Star Market, Stop and Shop, and Home Depot
clearly show that only plastic bags are available – not paper. Observers have noted that
supermarket cashiers still regularly double bag groceries, and place bulky items with
handles, such as boxes of detergent, in plastic bags. Whatever training being done to help
achieve this voluntary goal is not having a meaningful impact.

Even if we were to achieve a 33% reduction in plastic checkout bag use, we would still have
67% of these bags adrift in the waste stream and in the environment. The very reason to
decrease plastic bag use is that they enter the environment and wreak havoc on wildlife.
Around the world, when plastic bag bans are implemented, the next day, nothing bad
happens. People still shop for groceries. Some of them bring reusable bags, some buy cloth
bags, some use paper. People don’t buy fewer groceries.

Legislation is a realistic solution. Plastic bag bans or surcharges have already been put in
place in countries, provinces and cities all over the world, including: Brookline MA,
Manchester MA, Nantucket MA, as well as China, Canada, Israel, Belgium, Italy, Ireland,
Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Thailand, several
states in India, three states and territories of Australia, 30 rural villages in Alaska, Westport
CT, Edmond WA, Bangladesh, Malawi, Germany, Sweden, Paris, San Francisco, Oakland,
Washington DC, Brownsville TX, Mexico City, North Carolina’s Outer Banks Region, and for
the past 20 years, Nantucket Island.

Single use plastic bags are contributing to serious issues facing Massachusetts, the United
States and the World, including energy production, public health, global warming, and
species conservation. Tackling these issues will require the culmination of many small
actions bring about large change. Banning plastic bags is an important and easily
implemented step towards meaningful change.

The Sierra Club has long been committed to minimizing the negative environmental impact
of human activity and because this legislation would significantly reduce such impact from
plastic bags we hope this committee will report these bills favorably.

Ryan Black
Massachusetts Sierra Club

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Running to Represent Amesbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury

As you probably know, State Representative Mike Costello announced this past Wednesday that he will not be running for reelection to the First Essex District this November.

I am announcing that I will be a candidate for this House seat.

Thursday’s article in the Daily News linked here provides a great summary of what Mike has meant to the district.


Mike has been a true champion on issues for Amesbury, Newburyport, and Salisbury.

He has been instrumental in providing State support for bridges, roundabouts, beaches, boardwalks, rail trails, and other important elements that make our communities strong.

I can do a good job representing the citizens of these three communities.

My experience as a Newburyport City Councillor has given me an understanding of where State government needs to do better to sustain local communities, particularly with general local aid, Chapter 70 educational aid, and Chapter 90 transportation funds for local street and sidewalk improvements.

My experience in the nonprofit sector has given me an understanding of how challenging it can be for families to raise and educate their children, find housing they can afford, and get to work on inadequate highways, trains and buses.

Mike has been a strong advocate for us and we’re very fortunate to have Senator Katy O’Connor-Ives represent us in the State Senate.

I want to earn your vote over the next several months. And I do ask for your support. More importantly I respectfully ask for your input on what issues are important to you.

You can click on this link to give me your ideas. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/K2ZZD7T

I will make a formal announcement in the next few days and begin to collect signatures over the next few weeks. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions or want to help.

Thank you,

Ed Cameron

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Demolition of Historic Properties in Newburyport

First of all, I hope to see many of you at the Joint Hearing of the Planning Board and Council Planning and Development Committee on Wednesday, February 19 at 7pm in the City Hall Auditorium to discuss and hear public comment on three ordinances: a revision to downtown parking, an interim demolition control ordinance, and an interim downtown preservation ordinance.

Great letter to the editor this morning by Jerry Mullins.  Some will love it, some will....not love it ;-)

Link is here: http://www.newburyportnews.com/opinion/x1196441641/Restored-downtown-turned-Port-around

And as is often the case, the comments are illustrative of Democracy in Action!

My own two cents:

I think 15 main structure demolitions in the last 10 years (most of them at the peak of the market) is indicative of a problem.  And yes in several cases, the Historical Commission did not invoke a demolition delay; one could make the argument then that there is no need for a Historical Commission and demo delay; I'd make the case that they do a thorough job and are reasonable in their decision-making.

These are main structures which have been demolished.  The date is when the demo request was heard.
Main Structure 16-18 Bromfield Street
Main Structure 30-32 Bromfield Street  1/3/2008
Main Structure 19-19-1/2 Dove Street  7/21/2005
Main Structure 28 Hancock Street  9/16/2010
Main Structure 98 Low Street
Main Structure 5 Market Street  2003
Main Structure 30-32 Marlboro Street  7/13/2006
Main Structure 521 Merrimac Street 9/2/2004
Main Structure 325-327 Merrimac Street
Main Structure 12 Oak Street 2/21/2013
Main Structure 78-84 Pleasant Street 6/1/2004
Main Structure 48 Spofford Street 1/13/2005
Main Structure 1 Temple Street  3/4/2004
Main Structure 5 Vernon Street 3/4/2004
Main Structure 179-181-1/2 Water Street  9/1/2005

These are main structures which have not been demolished...yet.  Several are on the chopping block
Main Structure 8 Harrison Street  6/3/2010
Main Structure 11 Center Street  7/19/2007
Main Structure 11 Coffins Court 1/13/2005
Main Structure 18 Fruit Street 6/30/2004
Main Structure 5 Strong Street 4/21/2011
Main Structure 17  Ship Street 1/3/2013
Main Structure and several outbuildings 284 Water Street  6/28/2012

Thank you, Ed Cameron

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Two things: Waterfront Meeting Tonight (Wed, Feb 5) Cancelled and Notifications from the City

Dear Newburyporter,

1) the meeting scheduled for tonight with the Mayor, City Council, and NRA has been postponed because of the weather and parking issues.  This will be rescheduled soon.

2) the City revamped its website recently and it's much improved.  You can see it here at http://www.cityofnewburyport.com/

One of the best features is that residents can sign up for email notifications, alerts, agendas, minutes, and announcements.  I recommend clicking on everything and you'll never be out of the loop :-)

Thank you, Ed Cameron

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Public meeting scheduled re new harbormaster and visiting boater facility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               
January 16, 2014
Contacts:       Geordie Vining, Senior Project Manager, (978) 465-4400
                        Paul Hogg, Harbormaster, (978) 360-6963

public meeting scheduled with design team for Newburyport’s new harbormaster and visiting boater facility

Newburyport – The City of Newburyport has scheduled a public meeting to initiate the design of the anticipated new Harbormaster and Visiting Boater Facility that will be built at the eastern end of the central waterfront.  The meeting will be on Thursday, January 30th at 7:00 p.m. in the Newburyport City Hall auditorium.

The City of Newburyport has recently contracted with Olson Lewis + Architects and Keery Design to provide design services for this project, and this first public meeting is intended to provide a forum for interested citizens to ask questions, provide input, and discuss various aspects of the project with the designers and City staff.  No decisions have been made at this early stage on the footprint, size, amenities, materials, exact siting, etc. of this small new structure.

The existing Harbormaster’s office receives approximately 5000 visitors per year, and the current 450 square foot single-story structure is simply not sufficient to meet this demand.  There are about 1500 boats registered in Newburyport alone, and thousands of visiting or “transient” boaters.  In addition, there are thousands of other people who need information or services using the Peter J. Matthews Boardwalk at the central waterfront as well as Custom House Way from the downtown.  Their numbers will likely increase once Phase II of the Clipper City Rail Trail and Harborwalk is built next to the fish pier.  The current facility has very limited office and administrative space for the Harbormaster and staff, and no space available for staff lockers or storage space for tools, safety equipment, and other supplies.  There is very limited customer service space for visitors.  While the City has added shorepower and water services in the past decade to the floats along the central waterfront, the existing Harbormaster’s building has no space for transient boater facilities such as toilets, showers, laundry and ice machines that would further enhance the attractiveness of Newburyport’s harbor and downtown for visitors. 

            The City through its Harbormaster and Harbor Commission has determined that a new and improved facility should be built on the fish pier at the end of the central waterfront.  It is important that the facility continue to be directly visible and accessible from the floats serving visiting boaters at the central waterfront, as well as located in close proximity to the Harbormaster’s own floats and vessels.  The exact siting of the building on the fish pier will require balancing the desire to avoid negative impacts on: a) the fishermen’s memorial area, b) views from the Custom House, c) parking and vehicular circulation on the fish pier, d) the working area for the commercial fishermen on the pier, and e) the anticipated extension of the Rail Trail and Harborwalk.

The new facility under consideration could be up to 2000 square feet, and allow for a customer service area on the ground level with room for 2-3 staff.  In addition, the City is considering lockers for staff to change and store clothing, storage space for daily equipment, and a second story office area that would allow for small meetings and facilitate the Harbormaster’s monitoring of river traffic and communication with boaters.  The new facility should also include a small number of basic facilities for visiting boaters including information, toilets, showers, and ice, and potentially laundry, vending machines, wi-fi, etc., to further improve Newburyport’s harbor as a destination.  Preliminary estimates put the new facility at approximately $600,000 to $800,000 which will be financed by existing boater revenues from the Harbormaster Enterprise account.  The City hopes to complete design and permitting by the fall of 2014.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pennies for Poverty Announces Third Annual Oyster-Fest Fundraiser on February 8

Dear Friends, 
Pennies for Poverty. a local nonprofit working to help alleviate poverty in the Greater Newburyport area, announced the date of it's third annual Oyster-Fest Fundraiser. The event will be held on Saturday evening,February 8 from 5:30-7:00 PM at the Starboard Galley Restaurant, 55 Water St., Newburyport. As always, the event features  oyster selection and shucking by Richard Rush, Editor-In-Chief of the Oyster Information Newsletter. Rush is known throughout New England for his entertaining and educational shucking events. He personally selects only the finest available oysters to be served
at his events. The fundraiser is free and open to the public. The recommended donation is $10 per person.

This year's event will be held in conjunction with the Newburyport Art Association's free reception for their  Winter Show Part 2 juried award recipients, on the same night from 7-9PM, virtually next door to the Starboard Galley Restaurant, at 65 Water St.
Holding these events together allows Newburyport residents to enjoy a great night of socializing on a Saturday evening in the middle of winter,great oysters, great art, and financial support for a worthy cause.

Please feel free to forward this email to any of your friends who might be interested in attending.

Michael Sandberg

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

At Large Council Results 2013: Revised

Thank you to the voters of Newburyport. And congratulations to all the candidates for stepping up and putting forward their best effort. Whether in victory or defeat, their hard work always is a good thing...okay, I'm tired and don't have anything more coherent to say other than "I need coffee"

Late Note: the City Clerk's office revised the official results on Wednesday, November 6 to adjust for a slight miscount.  The finishers in order were:


Order in each Ward:

  Ward 1P Ward 1 Ward 2 Ward 3 Ward 4 Ward 5 Ward 6 Total
Cameron 2 2 2 3 1 2 4 1
Connell 3 3 3 1 2 1 3 2
Herzog 1 1 1 4 4 5 2 3
Kinsey 5 4 4 2 3 4 1 4
Vogel 4T 5 5 5 5 3 5 5
Mullins 4T 7 7 6 7 7 7 6
Menin 7 6 6 8 8 8 8 7
Lanphear 6 8 8 7 6 6 6 8
Allgrove 8 9 9 9 9 9 9 9