Newburyport is the regional envy for so many more reasons than just because it is a pretty historic seaport. We are virtually ‘spoiled’ because of the unique geography of our area. Our historic Common Pasture, the nearby Great Marsh and the fact that most of our City sits up on a ridge; spares us from horrific damage from flooding.
I used to live in New Jersey for a short time. They are spending millions now to stop the results of building impervious surfaces across large areas of their state. When the rains come, and they do; they literally have entire valleys flooded to the second floors of houses. The loss is in the tens of millions and their efforts to stop it have been expensive and often futile.
And yet, we have residents who can’t understand why we don’t just build all over the Common Pasture. It protects us in so many ways. And yet, we have blundered even here by allowing the Quail Run Development and the Industrial Park to be constructed on this flood plain and we have suffered for it in our own loss of millions of dollars.
But what floods we suffer now, (We have had repeated 100-year storms and two 500-year storms in just the last two decades – yes, strange designations when they seem to be bundled!) are nothing compared to what is coming.
The common pasture is overshadowed by an area of land that is shaped like a bowl. Right at the top is Storey Avenue (Once called the ‘Plains’) and the large parking lots of impervious surfaces at Port Plaza and Market Basket. Just below it is Woodman Farms and just below that is a large new impervious surface called the Crow Lane Landfill. As the rains come funneling off the Plains, the city’s storm drains feed and flow down into this bowl from all along the ridge. This flood of water passes by the Landfill, fed with more runoff from its impervious membrane and heads directly toward the housing and the industrial park.
You can see that the water will be focused down particular Riparian corridors. (This is an area that lives off and soaks up the waters as they come funneling down.) You can see clearly where all that water is heading!
The purpose of the Common Pasture is to absorb this water and allow it to safely pass on to the sea. Anything that prevents the absorption by solid surfaces like buildings and parking lots means more water that is standing and causing damage. The Town of Newbury and the City of Newburyport have purchased land just so this absorption process can be protected.
There are many more reasons to protect this area which I can provide but singularly the most important is TO KEEP THIS AREA OPEN TO ALLOW NATURE’S WETLANDS TO SLOW THE POTENTIAL DAMAGE FROM FLOODING.
Let’s not find ourselves trying to extricate ourselves years later from the terrible mistake of overbuilding.