It is by the very nature of an elected official’s job that he (or she) can often appear cowardly. In theory, they’re supposed to be responsive to the citizens. And in an ideal world, they take the input from the community, mix it in with their experience and come up with mature and informative decisions.
In an ideal world.
In reality, most politicians are assaulted by the squeaky wheel, and if they are intimidated enough, will respond to the will of the loudest voices. Minority groups, and special interests have known this for years especially in Newburyport where politics is a blood sport.
Well, the same kind of approach is being engineered by a self-serving alliance of garage abutters, nay-sayers, and anti-(fill in the blank) people. And after the well-engineered zaniness over the LHD, the ill-fated effort of the doomsday proclaimers over paid parking and the failed push against the 40R; it’s back to another round of Hysteria.
We’ve got abutters trying to stop it, joining those who don’t like the Mayor, and those who want Newburyport all to themselves and hate visitors and those who visualize municipal bankruptcy; all coming together to make a huge squeaky wheel.
And just as predictably, we’ve got politicians frightened thinking this group represents the majority of Newburyport’s taxpayers.
I’ve been watching on the side lines because the garage is a given. Each successful destination community has three components along the eastern seaboard: A central park, preferably on the water; a hotel or hotels; and a parking garage, and available parking. I wasn’t going to speak up until the design phase came along. Mainly because the MVRTA knows nothing about making the garage blend into our historic downtown and so a close eye on those scoundrels will be necessary. (Plus prevent the cheapskates who want to dump the expensive design phase for a huge ugly cement structure!) But I’m going to have to join the discussion because the hysteria is preventing this part to be completed.
We’re a destination community that has lived in an ever increasing affluence well-beyond our wildest dreams by having visitors to our city. Slowly but surely we have transformed from a seasonal place to a year-round prosperous community. 18,000 odd citizens can not, nor are willing to pay, for all the wonderful benefits we receive from our visitors.
The majority in the city understand that our high quality of life is based on that fact.
It is quality of life that drives the citizens to want a waterfront park, historic neighborhoods that keep our equity and property values high and the need for more visitors through conventions, and hotels and year-round restaurants are all part of the equation. In fact, before these two new schools and the senior center came along, our tax increases were staggeringly low while other communities were desperately pushing against the 2-1/2% caps.
But we have this minority who can’t understand the necessity of a parking garage or why we should accommodate visitors in the first place. And they are using hysteria to make it sound like the entire city is against the garage.
A city that wants desperately an open green waterfront.
That passed the Waterfront West Overlay District so we can see a hotel/convention center.
That protects aggressively our eco and heritage tourism industry.
The Titcomb site is exactly where it should be as cars (carrying visitors) coming from the Chain Bridge and the Gillis Bridge will automatically funnel into its perfect location. Buses (who already travel through the city) will be stopping on the outside; and New England Development will have to fight for parking spaces just like every business in town.
I deeply appreciate the timeline compilation by the Daily News. It has really helped all of us to know this is the time for doing the garage. No other location will do. There is a huge granite ledge under the Green Street parking lot that will require blasting which will destabilize the taxpayer funded investment in the Religious Society of Newburyport’s steeple. And of course, the whole thing would be out of action for a long time. Prince Place produced a cacophony of screaming abutters and as we can see, so does Titcomb.
These objectors need to take Economics 101. This garage is to produce an open waterfront, provide a ready source of parking for our businesses and most of all,
Encourage more visitors to Newburyport! (Who will help pay for our affluent lifestyle.)
The Squeaky Wheels do not represent the majority of Newburyporters and we can’t wait for some political referendum to prove it.
Let’s get the design money approved and on its way!