Sometimes too much of something good can end up being bad. All it takes is to bring it to the point of excess. Carrots and lettuce are considered healthy food but if you were to eat a bushel full, the trace poisons would actually kill you. The Bible warns that all things, “should be done in moderation”. Unfortunately, it is human nature to grab hold onto something and take it to the max. I grew up in a lovely New England town in Connecticut (Enfield) which made the fateful choice to go after as much retail space as they could handle. Now, where my old home was, is an abandoned shopping center, behind it is another abandoned shopping center and behind it yet still is (currently) a thriving shopping center. Ever seeking the almighty consumer dollar, the competition gets steep as the same consumer is drawn to what is the best. We’re already seeing this in Seabrook as large swaths of empty commercial space are now located to the north and south of the town.
This should be a warning to our downtown as the Ale House tries to outdo the surrounding businesses and as Karp’s version of ‘Pickering Wharf’ begins construction. If the parking and the size of the commercial district can not accommodate all the customers; it won’t be long before one business stomps on another to compete leaving areas of blight.
When I first heard of development around the train station, my first instinct was, “Great!” The isolated traffic circle, looking like a frontier town; would finally add to the health of the city – and as the Mayor has pushed for fulfilling the goals of the 2004 Strategic Land Use Committee; I said to myself, “How could anyone be against this?”
But of course, a good thing has now become an increasingly bad thing – especially if the city lies down and abandons good urban planning out of desperation.
Yes, Minco has gotten involved, the Gargantuan Developer. They’re not satisfied with the plans laid out in 2003-2004; they want to do two things and they want the city to let them do it NOW without any design alterations and to give them an “Approval Not Required” stamp of approval. Without negotiations, without careful consideration of public benefit, NOW. Once they begin, they don’t want to stop – they will add Phase Two and Phase Three and the city will lose out having largely any say in what they do.
The second thing is what is now the new mantra in the industrial park also. They want to increase the height. Minco wants to go to five stories. N.A.I.D. was at least reasonable in that they imposed a height restriction for their area. Now the cry is, “We want to go high, higher and be the highest!” With MINCO, it is maximum profit. And as I have previously indicated, after they do their damage, they will leave; selling off their interests and onto another Gargantuan project.
And damage they will leave. With the proposed hundreds of new units after all the phases are done; our school system will suffer with the increase of students, the token affordable housing will be loop-holed away since the city does not own them. The massive increase in traffic and the increase demand for city services will pressure for more tax money.
Remember, residences require as much as three to four times their cost in increased services while in contrast businesses actually generate three to four times in tax earnings.
When the city begins to tackle all the extra burdens; where will Minco be?
For more on this, including some great pictures, check out the Newburyport Blog’s latest post.
I will repeat what I said in my last blog,
“We have to make sure that when the project is complete that we benefit as well as MINCO. That means not just standing firm in City Hall and in the boards and commissions but average citizens need to attend meetings and keep attending meetings and to do our homework so we have maximum affect. That is how we must deal with New England Development, that was how N.A.I.D. was dealt with in the past and how we must always deal in the future.”
I leave you with a lesson from Monty Python on how too much of a good thing is a bad thing.