The way it has worked for decades in Newburyport, City Hall employees get to take time out from their jobs to attend seminars and workgroups. They get a tasty lunch, paperwork on how things are done properly per the regulations in Massachusetts; and when they come back to Clipper City – then they stuff all that paper into a file cabinet.
They’ve done their job – and no worse the wear. It isn’t long before they just go back to doing what they’ve always done in this city: the Newburyport Way.
It’s bad enough and more often than not over the years, their colloquial stubbornness has caused us to lose out on additional funding, but then it gets worse.
City Hall periodically presents public hearings to get particular ‘plans’ agreed upon by the citizens. Hundreds of people sacrifice time out of their busy lives to make sure these programs are vetted out right. After more vetting through the City Council and finally making it past the Mayor’s desk; they’re supposed to be implemented by the City Hall employees and supported by the citizens.
More often than not though, the temptation is to ignore it, do things the same old way and just stuff the PLAN (whatever that plan is) back into the file cabinet so it can be forgotten.
The usual cause is because these PLANS become inconvenient to the way things are always being done, or get in the way of a political agenda, or it’s going to cost some effort and time and money. You even find the Corner Office tempted to do the same thing as the City Hall employees: forgo the Plans!
Well it turns out that the acquisition of the Colby Farm Properties is now damn inconvenient and yet, it is supported again and again by multiple plans!
Why all that wasted time and energy if we’re not going to follow them?
The 2001 Master Plan. One of the primary objectives is to preserve open space to protect habitat and preserve scenic views with an overall objective to increase the amount of protected public and private open space.
2002 Community Preservation Act. This smart growth tool is for the purpose of preserving open space and developing outdoor recreational facilities.
2004 Strategic Land Use Plan. One of its chief priorities is to strengthen Low Street’s visual quality and image as a major entry corridor into the City with the intention of transferring development elsewhere so that the upper areas of Low Street remain undeveloped.
2012 Open Space and Recreation Plan. Goal number one is to protect lands of public conservation and recreational interest including the city’s defining scenic heritage landscapes…with the objective to identify and secure funding for land acquisition and protection. And of highlighted importance is the acquisition of athletic fields.
Colby Farms meets all these ‘Plans’ !!!
The abutters want it left open. It is another sensitive component of an area that is supposed to be left off being developed. (The SLUC was eyeing the traffic circle which we are now seeing with the 40R development). It is a scenic view, one of the few left of the upper Common Pasture; and the best thing of all, there is a tremendous potential for much needed athletic fields. In addition, one lot far to the west takes the brunt of the off-flow of the Landfill and should have a preservation restriction on it.
So, what is the problem? The Open Space Committee spent so much on Curzon Mills, and now it looks like a piece of large property might become available – and the fund has been depleted!!! And we have a mindset in City Hall (the Mayor?) to abandon all these plans for the vain promise of more tax revenue.*
We need the Mayor to get behind this acquisition so the Planning Office can prepare short-gap funding; we need the City Council to approve it; and we need the CPC to understand this is not just ‘another’ open space request.
I will be speaking during the public comment on Monday at City Council. And we need others to do the same. The City has 120 days to make up its mind before the property owner converts the agricultural land into a development. The Park Commission has requested CPA seed money so that outside grants can be obtained but the CPC won’t make the final decisions until May and June, and the City Council won’t even see that money request until July & August. Thus, this must be impressed before all our elected officials so the process of preservation can begin. We need people to speak to their elected officials, write editorials and attend hearings.
TIME IS SHORT.
* Anyone knows that the amount of tax money earned when you build residential units, translates into the need for three to four times that amount to fund the increased infrastructure and services! Why do you think Newbury is constantly teetering toward receivership? They heard the same siren and are now financially hurting!