The Planning Office has many ‘vehicles’ by which design and forecasting must abide so as to give City Hall a clear direction. One of the most powerful has been the Master Plan of 2001. Many of its objectives have been reached and it is supposed to be the city’s guiding light concerning future development. Another one is the Waterfront West Overlay District which Newburyport Development and even Steve Karp must follow.
But one of the most important of these plans is the Waterfront Strategic Plan of 2003.
Back in 2010, Councilor Herzog posted an elaborate blog entry in which he campaigned vigorously for a particular design for the garage. He needn’t have bothered because the strategic objective had already been laid out by the city:
“• Remote parking should be allowed within 500′ of new buildings in order to avoid extensive surface parking lots that would interrupt the historic development pattern. Underground or structured parking should be encouraged to consolidate parking lots.
• Where parking garages front on public streets, 50% of their ground floor should be occupied by active public uses such as retail shops and the design of their façade should harmonize with abutting buildings.
• Ramps to underground parking should be limited to the rear of buildings and accessed from alleyways.”
The city actually has conceptual plans that show rough drawings as to how the garage will seamlessly blend into our historic downtown.
This is what has been the objective all along.
Unfortunately, to do this correctly is going to require a whole lot more money that is presently available. In a fateful decision, it was decided that the MVRTA should get involved so they could access their design resources and to make it easier to obtain state and federal funding. In return, they would obtain a bus station that would be a terminus for the most easterly of the cities they service.
Now, unfortunately, the MVRTA is well-known for making some of the most hideous garages along the Merrimack Valley! Their Haverhill facility and their Lawrence facility are enough to make you wretch at the thought of something that ghastly in Newburyport.
This is where someone has to be a leader in standing up to the ‘status quo’, put their firm hand down and say, “No, we’re going to do this right that fits the Port City.” Now if I know of anyone who has a track record of being firm and determined, someone who, even against the howls of protest; stayed the course and implemented paid parking – it is our Mayor.
Now, according to her, it is this very reason that has caused her to decries any public forum to the point that Councilor Cronin and others have begun to demand some accountability.
Unfortunately, as it turns out; her past actions and I may say, allies – definitely give justification for the councilors’ concerns.
More on this point next post.