As I see from the letter printed in The Town Common, it seems that the petition against the downtown garage has morphed into a tax revolt. The letter tries to take potshots at the Mayor by not mentioning in the body of the letter, the title, “Concerned Citizens Against Additional Taxation, Parking Fees & Downtown Garages”.
This seems to be using the parking garage as an excuse for a tax revolt. Considering the Mayor is talking up a vote for a “debt exclusion” and voicing much noise over the poor funding of the schools; it doesn’t take much forecasting to know that tax increase attempts are coming. I stand with them against taxes. It is very unfortunate the group is using a distant garage as their focus since the parking garage is inevitable. Yes, inevitable. It may be very distant but it’s coming. New England Development voiced by Karp himself wants a parking facility off his Waterfront Property and he followed it by purchases of Titcomb lots . He is dread to do it alone and would love to work with the City. How do I know? He said so and 700 plus citizens of Newburyport are my witnesses! But either way, he needs it for his waterfront properties to garner enough profit.
In addition, the anti-parking garage people’s arguments for this petition are incredibly weak.
Here below are their points and below, some counter-points:
Inappropriate and out of scale and historically inappropriate.
A parking garage can be done terribly or it can be done well. By having historic storefront architecture hiding the parking garage on the street level is doing it well. A good example is along Tremont Street in Boston. The ghastly parking garages in Boston and Worcester that stand out like hideous sore thumbs are done terribly. In Newburyport, the consultants if they want to sell these garages need to do a better job of hiding them. As for inappropriate, garages in Portsmouth and Salem are to scale and have certainly not harmed the historic downtown. How historically appropriate are large impervious surfaces called parking lots? Hardly a facet of 18th and 19th century Newburyport. On the other hand, a hidden parking garage will actually compliment the historic feel of the city with street-facing compatible architecture.
How much research is needed so common sense prevails? Newburyport is already a nightmare for parking during the main tourist season. When the waterfront parking disappears and is replaced by the Maritime Park, we will begin to see businesses impacted severely when customers find no place to put their cars. What about the hue and cry by residents as people begin to park blocks away?
Benefits the few and not the many.
As I have already re-affirmed, this group wants Newburyport for themselves. They hate visitors and they hate the customers who will prosper our businesses who we want to come in ever increasing numbers. Our city is not a charming historic country club for residents only. How are 17,000 plus people suppose to support our large tally of restaurants and shops? Our economy is based on increasing visitors not chasing them away. Those “few”(visitors) just happen to be the very economic base of our community. Their absence will harm "the many" (i.e. locals). We need to fight xenophobia. Xeno in Greek is “stranger”. We need to stop a fear of strangers in our midst. A healthier attitude is to say, “Welcome to Newburyport, spend your money…and get out”. I can live with that!*
We don’t want a large bus station.
We already have buses loading and unloading right in the center of the City. They are huge, smelly and loud. By moving the buses already in town to the edge nearest Route One, we effectively improve the traffic and stop the inconvenience. There are commuter buses, local buses and tour buses. You can’t keep them out so let’s control them by putting them in an enclosed garage away from the downtown.
I will say one thing. Though their arguments are weak, the anti-parking garage group are very organized with letters, petitions and a website. I look at the 166 plus signatures on the petition and speak with envy, as I wish historic preservationists as they did so bravely in the 70’s will boldly stand up and put their signatures to the worthy cause of protecting Newburyport when the local historic district ordinance comes up in the public eye.
* of course I exempt the 14% of visitors who end up coming back to live here and enrich our community!