Newburyport is slowly and begrudgingly becoming the Cambridge of the North. Some may deny it but it doesn’t take long for those with eyes, to look around and notice. With that change comes a different clientele. I have seen a marked reduction in the number of brawls in front of bars, few knife fights out in restaurant parking lots and a noticeable lack of gangs and rough-looking people downtown. Even vandalism, though sporadic in itself, is way down.
I do see well-dressed people downtown, lots and lots of baby carriages (not sure on the implications of that) and a general relaxed community spirit downtown and in our neighborhoods.
I understand why some are reticent about permitting alcohol being served outside. Images of loud, hard-drinking parties come to mind immediately. But the days of Newburyport being home to such clientelle is increasingly becoming rare. It isn’t that we’re getting ‘uppity’ but Newburyport even when the tourists leave is becoming a city of professionals and above else, a place for families.
Picturing a liquor bottle being smashed over the head of an eleven year old is hardly a reality.
With an increase in outdoor seating at many restaurants, the very European way of soaking up the atmosphere and the views while enjoying good food and drink is catching on rapidly. So many visitors are turned off when they wish to enjoy a relaxing drink out in beautiful Newburyport only to find out they have to stay inside if they wish to do so. Even Rockport, a famous drytown began to realize this and now allows liquor. Their unruly sailors and swabs (except for the pirates of the Formidable of course) replaced by tourists wishing to soak in Motif Number One!
I hope the Councilors tonight understand the new reality and allow for liquor to be served outdoors. Of course, the new situation will need to be monitored closely by locals and the police but there is enough regulations out there that still need to be obeyed. If a new problem occurs, it will be the local citizens and merchants that will need to bring it to City Hall’s attention.