I was ready to practise my glazed-eye look last night at the Sewer Commission’s public hearing on the plant expansion.       I was going to do some daydreaming and think about Christmas shopping and other important concerns.       Heck, I am into historic preservation and the Newburyport Historic District not sewage.      Take a look at the map and it is clear that the Sewer Plant is outside the NHD.       My only gripe is the plant being there in the first place but who even guessed forty years ago that the waterfront property would be so valuable especially when you see photos of the construction debris and rotting pylons in the 70’s.       Therefore, I was not much interested.
Glad I went.      Kent Nichols, Jr spoke representing Weston & Simpson Engineers, Inc. and Mr. Hartford, the Newburyport overseer on the project and spoke of upgrading the sidewalk and entrance way on Water Street and spoke on making the unused land, open and park and even was concerned (rather strangely) on the roof color of the new building.        I was happy that they wanted to make the developed area as much as possible to be cohesive to the surrounding neighborhood.      I started to pull out the glazed-eye look.
Then they began the outrageous remarks one after another and the members of the Sewer Commission supported the outrageous remarks!      I’m saying to myself, ‘Do these people live on an isolated island somewhere and not realize the statements they are making?"       This is the land of the Central Waterfront, the WWOD and the Towle Complex.      How many years did Newburyport fight over Lot 8 in the downtown area?
They basically said that since it was Fed money, they could disregard undergrounding the telephone and power lines.     All new construction is required to underground their lines in Newburyport!       When Bourgue Construction did a new development, they had to underground their lines.       It wasn’t even a matter of discussion with the Planning Board.    You just do it.       No, they’re government, they can disregard it.      Then they flatly indicated that the Clipper City Rail Trail that abutts their complex for the full length including the new land was not going to be improved.      Nope, don’t want to spend the money!        Ask First Republic about the protests they made when they were told to develop the harborwalk that abutted their property.   Just do it, they were told!     Now the high and mighty Water & Sewer Department will just walk away from neighborhood betterments.
I was so glad that Mayor Holaday and Councilor Barry Connell were present to hear this themselves.          I was very glad that David Hall of Hall & Moskow that had to bend over backwards for the future rail trail when he did his new addition in front of the Coast Guard spoke up with great determination.       He made it clear that how can the Sewer Commission expect any respect and support if they wish to walk away from MINIMAL  requirements that aren’t even negotiable for a private developer.    He spent additional monies on his 2-1/2 million addition to satisfy city requirements and the new sewer plant gets to be exempted.
That is outrageous!  Isn’t government supposed to have higher standards as an example to the community?
-P. Preservationist
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