A Nasty Disconnect

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.

For those who can’t believe this is true, check out the Newburyport Historical Commission agendas and their minutes and let me know if you can find any such garage design discussions.

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.

This is what Karp & the Mayor have for the city

Just think of how it will look as you get off the Route One ramp and start to drive into town!


-P. Preservationist

This entry was posted in Architecture, Developers, Downtown, Economics, Heritage Tourism, History, Organizations, Planning, Preservation, Streetscape. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A Nasty Disconnect

  1. When do you predict the proposal will be outed at a Council meeting? Are councilors doing their homework in advance of that? Are the abundance of pre-existing city regulations enacted to define development in the overlay district toothless or will they prevail?

  2. alex dardinski says:

    One can only hope that the early schematic of the Kleinfelder garage is just that, early and Schematic! There is no reason to think that a thin band of retail or community centered space could not be wrapped around the garage. See this great example from Staunton, VA here: http://www.archnewsnow.com/features/Feature107.htm

    • indyjerry77 says:

      Boy, wish Frazier Associates was the design team for the Newburyport Garage!

      Thank you for your insight but slapping a first floor line of retail shops would be so un-Newburyport. The whole façade would have to hide the garage so it could match the Federal-style streetscape.

      Thank you for your comments and the data – such a helpful input!

      -P. Preservationist

  3. YEAT-boy says:

    Wake up folks. The state is in a budget crisis. The economy is starting to crumble again (right on time, every 8 years). Local property taxes are maxed out. The funding to date will barely get us a utilitarian, minimalist design. Dare I say, Haverhill, here we come! We need sidewalk to roofline compatibility, no veneer or street scape excuses. Has Kleinfelder EVER done ANYTHING like that? Have to get to the church and start saying my novenas for that Staunton VA design, boy would that be awesome!

  4. TomS says:

    I hope it’s a placeholder. Isn’t there supposed to be a place for buses?

    • indyjerry77 says:

      Unlike this ill-informed editorialist I read this morning, this garage is most definitely an intermodal facility with buses and a full-fledge station right on the first floor.

      • YEAT-boy says:

        I happen to think the editorialist had a point “Intermodal” means more than one public transportation carrier, by definition. Not a bus station+parking garage. South station is a prime example (bus+train+subway). Its a misuse of the intent of intermodal funding, and can probably get challenged in court. But I am not complaining – if we can do it right, I don’t care where the money comes from…

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