that Master Plans are all about a vision of the future or to put it in simple terms, “working toward a reality ten years down the road.”
-Brick & Tree Blog, 1 Mar 2015, “Mix it all together and what do we get”.
I want to use the last statement, “working toward a reality ten years down the road.” as an over-arching theme for the work of the Master Plan Steering Committee. How do they picture us at that time? For that matter, as the citizens fill out the survey *, how do they see Newburyport ten years from now in 2025?
It is an important concept because we do have many self-centered, special interest groups who would love to steer the Master Plan for their own personal benefit and for their own personal profit. There are way too many here who picture themselves sitting on a hot beach way south of here, living off the money they earned in town; while the rest of us suffer the consequences of their exploitation.
When I think of the scary role of the Steering Committee, I picture those Kurdish soldiers I saw recently on Facebook bravely picking out ISIS land mines, confident but oh, one small step!
The first big meeting of citizens was back in April, and I for one was very encouraged by the input that came from that initial brainstorming session. It was clear, regardless that some were lacking historical knowledge or brought their personal bias; this was a group that ‘loved’ Newburyport and clearly saw the old Master Plan as a stepping stone for the new Master Plan and working toward making Newburyport 2025 a city with a very high quality of life.
As you can tell from my blog post, there is a very big BUT. And again, it has to do with money – the lack of it, too much of it and what parts of the city need it.
We need to realize that if we can’t sustain how Newburyport appears and we can’t keep our historic neighborhoods largely intact, the next Master Plan will have a whole set of new objectives: need for a new school, need to mitigate a suffocating traffic problem and the loss of the city being a desirable place to live. The whole discussion will be how to win back that ‘magic’ so tragically lost. The whole infrastructure will be stressed as the push for a ‘bigger’ city dominates the discussion.
We need to set our priority. Do we follow the big ‘lie’ that more buildings will bring in more taxes and solve our problems, or do we try to improve our already winning formula?
We have way too many real estate agents in town and all the other building trades professionals who would want us to swallow the big lie. We’ve got developers salivating over the fact that hardly nothing gets rejected in our boards and commissions. How else would you explain this driving desire to develop every inch of our city? Or the fact that Minco arrogantly admits that 800 eventual units will be built.
It’s a lie folks!
Minco is in Andover, most developers are out of town and the ones in town have swaying palm trees dancing before their eyes. More buildings mean more demand for infrastructure that will burden the taxpayer. More people, mean more children and the demand for another school due to overcrowding. More water demands and more sewer translates into higher rates for all of us. More Traffic as more cars are needed. (Yeah, right; the MBTA will take up the slack – dream on!) The nice thing about being a destination city, most of our visitors get in their cars and go home. But if they stay or we have a much larger population living here, it will mean more services, more shops and a whole different feel in the community.
When is enough, enough? Just remember, that Boston was a small community at one time. Now its metropolis practically abuts Worcester.
So the question remains. How do you picture Newburyport in 2025?
Please don’t make me nervous with your answer!
* I trust that every person who values our high quality of life, every environmental advocate who loves our farms, our open space and our amazing ecology, and our historic preservationists who want to preserve the look and feel of our fantastic city; has filled out the survey.