Apparently all those locals who scream out to the tourists from their cars as they pass through the Downtown, “Spend your money and then get out!” has been taken to heart by none other than the big utility company, National Grid.
They have been spending big money re-routing lines through Newburyport and doing a very thorough job in removing hazardous waste from the land where Mayor Ed Molin used to live as well as parts of Perkins Park. And of course, they’ll keep watch over their forest of garish utility poles until someone finally has the spine and the resolve in the City to have them undergrounded. (It’s the 21st century for heaven’s sake.) But as for having a base of operations here, National Grid will soon be gone – moving to Amesbury.
Their plan will be to take down two old rusting transformer stations and three buildings and then eventually, sell the place.
Of course, this brings up a whole host of issues.
- They will leave behind a large space, a very valuable, large space. Who will buy it? Who will develop it?
- How much of this area is filled with toxic material? Who will clean it up? Who will pay for that clean up?
- National Grid has signed an easement to allow the Clipper City Rail Trail to pass through this property. Will this easement be in perpetuity? Does the area where the trail passes through need to be cleaned up from hazardous waste? What liability issues will there be?
- Then there is the waterfront – anyone with a row boat knows that this land has some of the most dilapidated and sorry looking wharves and pylons in the area. Will the City and the State have a right to demand the new owners (or the old owners) clean it up or fix it up?
Somehow I strongly suspect the City is totally unprepared for this new future – a future where a cold, stiff Behemoth who couldn’t be talked to, reasoned with or controlled now wants to leave town!
As the Planning Office has asserted many times, National Grid won’t hardly talk to the City or work with the City unless Mr. Behemoth wants something. They want to sell this land for a big profit and they want to hightail it out of town without paying for their past sins of letting the waterfront rot.
In typical fashion, they sent lower echelon representatives to the ConCom the other night – intent: grab permission to demolish, sell the land and leave town.
Not so fast!
We need to use their wants as leverage to get what we want.
I think the City better wake up or this parcel is going to be a large headache for a long time if we are not aggressive in dealing with Mr. Behemoth.