With the MVRTA involved, the design plans for the new garage are now squarely in their control. But we’re not dealing with a bunch of amateurs, this task has been assigned to Kleinfelder, a company with offices in Framingham and branches across America. Though they were responsible for the eye sores in Haverhill and Lawrence; they took one look at Newburyport and realized that such an approach would be disastrous.
In fact, their division’s architectural historian when approached made the following recommendation,
“[He made ]recommendations about [the] appropriate tasks to mitigate the project’s impact on the historic district and several contributing structures. Kleinfelder advocated that the city approach the historic commission first to gain buy-in before entering Section 106 consultation.”
Now keep in mind that Kleinfelder because it is a nation-wide organization is committed to upholding design and compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. This means that when they build the garage they must uphold The Department of Interior’s Standards, and Massachusetts Historical Commission will have a say about the construction.
It certainly sounds like Kleinfelder is on our side.
But we’ve got a little problem.
The Newburyport Historical Commission has not been invited to the table. Their input has not been requested and they have not been treated as equal partners with the city in the design of this garage. They dutifully received a letter back in June about the garage but the Commission has not been invited to participate in any designs. Which, I might add, are supposed to begin forthright, not a year down the road. The most they have done is, under great pressure from the Mayor, dutifully authorized the demolition of buildings where the garage will sit.
The Mayor has tacitly ignored the requests of the consulting company and has proceeded without a strong Commission at the table.
Of course, I am not surprised. This is the same Mayor that has closely allied herself with the Great Destroyer, Gary Calderwood who is hostile to historic preservation. She has consistently intimidated the un-paid volunteers that sit on the Historical Commission. And she has consistently had a blind eye as one house after another has been demolished or gutted in the community.
Due to the absence of said input, Kleinfelder has wrongly concluded that the city does not want a garage that blends seamlessly into the city and has proudly displayed their design for the city’s new Intermodal Parking Facility.
Just think of how it will look as you get off the Route One ramp and start to drive into town!