So let’s stop the pretense and just do it. Of course, we’ll save the Downtown area with its Federal buildings and history for the tourists; but the rest of the Newburyport Historic District? Just level it.
Think of the possibilities! We could tear all the buildings down, re-arrange the streets to be wide and safe, measure out perfect lots so everything is ANR (approval not required), put in ‘sustainable’, highly-energy efficient green buildings and landscape it with perfect sidewalks and underground utilities.
Oh, yes, if we want to project an ‘historic’ feel, we’ll make sure we use a building code-acceptable version of the architecture from the past; but definitely nice, bland, concrete (so the State is happy so we can guarantee getting Chapter 90 funding) sidewalks. There won’t be any street trees because that would disrupt the perfection of our ADA pathways.
Think of it! The ZBA would probably only have to meet twice a year, if that! The Planning Office would be a sleepy place, because contractors and developers and house owners; would never have to grace the door – you wanna build, just build. And pay the ever increasing taxes.
Of course, it is increasingly looking like that is the goal of City Hall and the Mayor; we’ll have nice schools and nice infrastructure and everything perfect. The Mayor has said she wants us to be just like Arlington – and so we’d be.
We’d be a sleepy, Boston-bedroom town with maximized development consisting of 83% white population with a medium per capita income of $49,000. Of course, the population of Arlington at 42,000 means we’d be enjoying a very high density of population. With a series of high-rises near the train station; we’d easily approach that.
Of course, all our history would be gone, all our romance would be faked, all our culture would be plastic and the makeup of our population would be very homogenous. Since lower income brackets couldn’t afford to live here (All new construction would be in the half-million to million plus to justify the expense), crime rates would be pretty low but gone also would be the artistic, the funky, and the eccentric. As for the charm? We’d have to go downtown to get some. The ever-decreasing number of tourists might add some variety to the local scene as long as they don’t mind the shallow culture scene.
Now as for most of us who live here today, this ‘perfect world’ is nothing more than hell itself. Nothing romantic, nothing mysterious; everything as it appears; and worse no history, and without all those things that make us attractive; pure dull. And because only those with the money to be able to support living here; a subtle lack of diversity. I think the most disgusting will be the lack of neighborly concern with a cool, mix of people that we have today.
But when it came to being the cool place that Newburyport is today, it now would be a ghetto* for white people complete with white bread. I know the artists will be so uninspired, they would be the first to book out of here!
The worst event would be the loss of the tiny homes that are peppered around the Newburyport Historic District – once perfect places for first-time home buyers and those with struggling incomes. The only choice for most of the ‘former’ residents of the city would be to pack their bags and head out of town, forever.
Of course, it wouldn’t be so bad – since the Newburyport we loved, was no longer here.
There’d be nothing to look back upon, just pick up your bags, and keep walking.
* Definition of a ghetto – put in or restrict to an isolated or segregated area or group.