Wednesday, January 2, 2008

5 Thoughts I've Had for the Week of December 31, 2007

Thought #1
Already not blogging enough, but will make that a resolution for 2008.

Thought #2
The new term for Mayor, City Council, and School Committee begins Monday, January 7th at 10am at City Hall when all will be sworn in. You should go because we're working (or soon will be working) for you.

Thought #3
I'm in favor of the Council taking the next step on the path to a Senior Center early in the term. Mary Baker has a post on why a Senior Center is needed here and I think she's right on. During the campaign, I got an earful from seniors on both sides of the issues -- although I must say more of the folks I talked to are in favor of a senior center than not AND those in favor did prefer the Cushing Park site.

At the end of the campaign, as I was talking to a young senior on Columbus Ave, it dawned on me why some seniors would be opposed to the notion of a Senior Center -- these seniors already have 'community'. The woman I talked to on Columbus Ave was doing fall yard work. She, like some others I talked to, said she simply has no need for a Senior Center. I could see over her shoulder the reasons why. She was doing yard work with several young-to-middle aged male relatives (I'd guess sons). This woman has 'community' and that is great.

But many others I met -- seniors in apartments in Horton Terrace, a disabled woman on Forrester Street, a gentleman in his 90s on Tyng Street -- are the type of people who would use a Senior Center -- and they told me that they wanted one. For seniors who retired from work years ago or have no family left in town or are not all that sociable with the neighbors, a Senior Center is a place where "community" happens.

Thought #4
I'm torn over whether Jim Rice should be in the Hall of Fame. His stats are here. Pro: hit a lot of homers, top 5 in the MVP voting 6 times, good batting average, Tony Perez is in the Hall. Con: slumped after age 33, on-base % not all that high, lots of Ground into Double Plays. Please discuss.

Thought #5
It's 9pm and I'm at home in front of the computer wearing a ratty old Nantucket t-shirt which someday I will wear in public, so of course Thought #5 is about the recent articles on Newtucket. Steve Tait's first-hand reporting from Nantucket was excellent and it was great the Daily News sent him there.

One fact that I found of interest is that Karp/New England Development/related entities owns 75-80% of Nantucket's storefronts and owns 20% of Newburyport's. It would be good to get a handle on these figures (ie is this percentage of the number of storefronts or percentage of the square footage of storefronts, etc?) but on their face, these numbers are quite frightening for Nantucket and cautionary for us. When Waterfront West is developed, do Karp's holdings go to 40% or 60% of Newburyport storefronts? When do we start throwing around the words "monopoly" and "oligopoly"? Here is your primer on concentration in an industry.

The "Karping of Nantucket" a few days later in the Daily News is an op-ed piece that really resonated with me.

Jim Dondero writes,
"My memories of Newburyport in the early '60s include boarded-up buildings, Bossy Gillis' gas station and the abandoned waterfront. It is a far prettier downtown today, but the spirit of community seems to have diminished as the desirability of the ZIP code has increased." (Ed note: hey, I have two ideas for increasing community -- a Senior Center and support for our kids' public school education.)

Jim really hit the nail on the head with his closing:

Karp and every other landowner has a legal right to develop their property, but when they need zoning variances or more parking or other concessions from the city, the people of Newburyport would be wise to make sure they use their governmental power to retain control over what type of a community they want Newburyport to be. Will it be known as a crowded shopping destination or will it be a community where the quality of life was included in the equation of development?"

Quick poll question: am I the only one who had a flash
during "It's A Wonderful Life"of what the future could hold for Newburyport ?

Happy New Year, Ed