“Look Ellie! A park for cars,” exclaimed the tourist.
And so it is!
At first sight, it may seem someone’s been watching too many of those Pixel Cars sequels. Perhaps picturing a sexy Fiat throwing Frisbees or a couple of Volvo family cars lying on a huge blanket and sharing a fine glass of….oil?
The Waterfront Trust was a little nervous when they chose to put up this sign – afraid it may be sending the wrong message. That it may even be controversial.
They need not worry – other than most of us including our visitors being rather confused; it is actually sending the “right” message.
Parks trump parking and the park is to exist for maritime-related activities.
You see, instead of an involved mission statement that no one is going to read, the Trust has abbreviated their intent with a simple message and a straight-forward logo.
It also reminds everyone who passes by that they are intent on righting a great wrong.
Back in the early sixties, Newburyport was a tired, run-down mill town with a dilapidated, trash-filled waterfront. Ruth’s Shoe Factory was in trouble. Many families in the city were dependent on its survival and thus the community was committed to assisting the plant in anyway possible. That was when they fatefully decided to turn Waterfront Park into a parking lot on February 18th, 1960. It was that same mindset that prompted the city to take Cushing Park which was next to the CBS-Hytron plant and pave over it. (Thankfully, with some nod to winter parking needs; we will soon have that returned to its original purpose.) All that destructive effort resulted in ugly blacktop and the two plants closing regardless of all the futile efforts.
With that in mind, the Waterfront Trust has re-dedicated itself not to be doomed to a bleak, blacktop where once grass and trees and lovely paths had been. The Ale House has already received strong input from the trustees to ensure maximum green which will result in slowly taking back what was once a park as was intended in 1889.
This will not be “wasted space” as the Dark Siders like to describe our parks. These are cherished places as Mayor Holaday found out recently in the South End. Dark Siders are still thinking of the drug dealers, drunks and homeless people who used to hang down by the water. This is, as recently noted on Tom Salemi’s blog, a Newby-buryport; green swaths peopled by children, young couples and families. I love the fact that people are down at our parks, playing music, reading, taking in the views and just soaking up the positive vibes of our precious open space.
We had an atrocity committed when our parks were sacrificed before the altar of commerce. We need to right that wrong by having our two parks returned.
The simple message from this sign?
The Waterfront Trust is going to do its best to give us back Riverside Park(dba Market Landing Park).