The Department of Public Safety (Our DPW) has been the favorite place to "cut" budgets and personnel by many a mayor. Better to cut people who actually do physical work to hold our City together than cut Firefighters and Police who have much more vocal unions.
And our City shows it. The DPS is so stretched beyond its capacity that only emergencies can be dealt with correctly.
Andrew Lafferty (Called off to Iraq) and Tony Furnari have done heroic work with the little they are given. In fact, I just about fell down on the sidewalk when a brand new DPS van swung by. (I was thinking Brendon O’Regan must have shuffled some money over from the Water Department (Purely conjectural of course))
One thing they are losing a war over is blacktop, sidewalk blacktop.
Blacktop is dirt cheap but it also does not hold up against the elements especially our floods and winters. Just take a look outside the door of Stella’s or other businesses cursed with this demoralizing surface.
Blacktop is so demoralizing, so unfriendly and so un-Newburyport. So many contractors and homeowners never notify the city, they just lay it down without any regard to City policy or the historic "feel" of the City. I was personnally outraged that the YWCA has surfaced its front with cheap blacktop. They are supposed to be a pillar of our community. What were they thinking? The Inn at Newburyport is just getting started on Market Street. Its brochures are trying to promote Newburyport. But they have blacktop outside their door and any visitors have to view YWCA blacktop across the street! It is tough enough getting a new business going than to be surrounded by such ‘ass-thetics’.
The DPS hates the stuff; homeowners know that shoveling a lumpy sidewalk of blacktop is nearly impossible. It also sends a message to your neighbors how much you care for the City. The terrible practise of putting blacktop right through the city sidewalk leaves a gap. Sidewalks should be uniform in surface to encourage a safe and consistent walking medium. This is a basic tenent of the American Disabilities Act.
Finally, there is nothing more destructive to the aesthetics of Newburyport than blacktop. The second most destructive thing, vinyl siding, at least looks like historic clapboard from a distance.
The City needs to ban it from at least the Newburyport Historic District!