Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Parking Garage: Con and Pro

Here's an excerpt from the anti-garage argument from the anonymous Downtown Newburyport Residents and Abutters blog now with over 200 non-anonymous petitioners. The entire argument can be seen here.

Choosing downtown Newburyport as the location for a large multilevel parking garage is a mistake. It is inappropriate, incorrectly researched and will benefit the few and not the many citizens of Newburyport.

1: Inappropriate:

Trying to force fit a big box downtown is dangerously out of scale with its surroundings and will irreversibly damage the unique charming historic essence of our city. In the 1970s, when shortsighted commercial interests wanted to bulldoze our beautiful downtown brick row houses, visionary leaders rallied the residents of the city to save what is now the center of our historic seacoast community. Over the years, we have nurtured and protected the fragile charm of our wonderful city. Today, we are thankful that our city was not destroyed by ill-considered development, and we mustn’t let that happen again now.

By inserting a large oversized structure into our elegant fragile city, we will be driving more traffic and more cars and buses into our downtown area. Do we really want this to happen? Does anyone know of any residents who do? Have we looked at the impact that such a facility will have on crime, vagrants, pollution and many of the other well documented negative results of similar facilities? Most importantly, installing the proposed out of scale facility, will be irreversible. The historic essence, harmony and beauty of our downtown will be changed forever. There will be no going back from such an unnecessary project.

I wasn't aware of the 'well documented negative results' like 'vagrants'.

Anyways, here's the anti-anti-garage case for a parking garage from the anonymous P. Preservationist. The entire post can be read here:

In addition, the anti-parking garage people’s arguments for this petition are incredibly weak.

Here below are their points and below, some counter-points:

Inappropriate and out of scale and historically inappropriate.

A parking garage can be done terribly or it can be done well. By having historic storefront architecture hiding the parking garage on the street level is doing it well. A good example is along Tremont Street in Boston. The ghastly parking garages in Boston and Worcester that stand out like hideous sore thumbs are done terribly. In Newburyport, the consultants if they want to sell these garages need to do a better job of hiding them. As for inappropriate, garages in Portsmouth and Salem are to scale and have certainly not harmed the historic downtown. How historically appropriate are large impervious surfaces called parking lots? Hardly a facet of 18th and 19th century Newburyport. On the other hand, a hidden parking garage will actually compliment the historic feel of the city with street-facing compatible architecture.

Incorrectly researched.

How much research is needed so common sense prevails? Newburyport is already a nightmare for parking during the main tourist season. When the waterfront parking disappears and is replaced by the Maritime Park, we will begin to see businesses impacted severely when customers find no place to put their cars. What about the hue and cry by residents as people begin to park blocks away?

Benefits the few and not the many.

As I have already re-affirmed, this group wants Newburyport for themselves. They hate visitors and they hate the customers who will prosper our businesses who we want to come in ever increasing numbers. Our city is not a charming historic country club for residents only. How are 17,000 plus people suppose to support our large tally of restaurants and shops? Our economy is based on increasing visitors not chasing them away. Those “few”(visitors) just happen to be the very economic base of our community. Their absence will harm "the many" (i.e. locals). We need to fight xenophobia. Xeno in Greek is “stranger”. We need to stop a fear of strangers in our midst. A healthier attitude is to say, “Welcome to Newburyport, spend your money…and get out”. I can live with that!*

Should be a very interesting public meeting on Thursday, April 29 at 7PM at City Hall Auditorium. I'll be a few minutes late celebrating my 7 year old's birthday, so save me a seat and I'll bring you a piece of cake;-).

Ed Cameron

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Video of City Council Meeting, April 26, 2010

Some of the more interesting parts are:

Public Comment in the beginning
Expedited Permitting to gain Green Community status at 66:00 minute mark
Plum Island erosion budget transfers at 78:00 minute mark
Wind Turbine at 100:00 minute mark

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Common Pasture Walk Sunday, April 25

From Open Space Committee member Mary Harbaugh....

NEWBURYPORT and NEWBURY -- Anyone curious about the Common Pasture is invited to a free guided walking tour from 1 to 3 pm Sunday April 25. The walk will be led by Dave Rimmer of Essex County Greenbelt Association and Mary Harbaugh of the Newburyport Open Space Committee.

This opportunity to explore the scenic, historic landscape will include a look at both habitat and pastoral activities in the Wet Meadows section of the 1,500-acre area. Walkers will also hear a bit of history of the Common Pasture and get an update on current efforts to protect the entire heritage landscape.

Walkers should wear long pants and mud-ready footwear and meet at Greenbelt's viewing platform at Wet Meadows on Scotland Road in Newbury. The leisurely tour will include time at the wildlife-viewing platform to scan for spring migrants, including waterfowl and shorebirds. The walk is not appropriate for dogs.