For years, our city has suffered from disgusting, uneven sidewalks and to make things worse, unpredictable surfaces: and because of it, though dangerous for our children and our citizens, most who live here have been forced to do the Newburyport Walk*.
The most horrible thing which I have witnessed many times is to see our visitors attempting to do the ‘right thing’ and walk our sidewalks. Just a few years ago, an elderly person ended up dying due to the bad fall she received from our uneven surfaces.
So, we all cheered when Councilor Cronin and Mayor Holaday found a way to finance a steady replacement of these sidewalks. Finally, after a few years, the problem would be solved!
Unfortunately, you don’t give a semi-automatic, fully loaded, and hand it over to an eight-year old! That is exactly what has happened. We’ve got uneven surfaces, fully approved by our building inspector depending on the whims of citizens – or surfaces depending on what convenient material is the cheapest. We’ve got cobblestones, blacktop, concrete, historic brick, modern brick, pavers of every size and length.
Amesbury has tried desperately to revive its downtown but its over-dependency on the state for funding doomed any hope for their historic downtown. It’s been sliced and diced and looks ghastly. But now MassDOT wants Newburyport to do the same!
More demolitions and more damage has been done under Mayor Holaday’s administration than has been done for decades before. That may appear as unfair but the fact remains. She’s tried to move the city out of the hill williams (in town hillbilly) community in which Townies ruled and dark siders roamed the streets; but it’s been done without full standards being installed by City Hall. To be fair, she has demanded the NRA sign ordinance be observed downtown and stood in support as ordinances were approved to protect our city with historic preservation guidelines but this has not extended to sidewalks!
Now that begs the question!!!!! Do we do all concrete or do we do blacktop or do we do brick! Do we destroy the look of the Newburyport Historic District by putting down all concrete? Or do we let a common-sense ordinance demand that brick be used consistently in the historic district and concrete outside.
Don’t blame the DPS – they are waiting for instruction from the Mayor and the City Council. In the meantime, they are at the mercy of citizens and the state regulations.
An ordinance with clear direction is needed by the city council to settle the issue.
I have offered the following ordinance to ascribe clear direction. Basically, if any exceptions are needed, it would go to the ZBA if necessary.
We need this resolved before more ‘spending’ ends up destroying our property values, our streetscapes and our heritage tourism!
* Walkin’ down the middle of the street.