It is no doubt the sidewalks of Newburyport are a statewide disgrace. No where is our shabbiness reflected than in the inconsistent application of surfaces. The pedestrian has to keep his eyes fixed on the ground because he may never know what he is facing: Brick? Concrete? Blacktop? Or, a twisted, mangled mixture of all of the above.
Whether crossing driveways, it is important for a pathway that is ADA-compliant to be consistent. The picture below indicates the proper way to have historic brick running continuously along the streetscape.
In contrast, we not only have a blaring disruption, but this lies directly across from the historic Bartlett Mall and sticks out like a rude middle-finger in the neighborhood. Visitors who come want to see the identifying nature of Newburyport: brick and granite. It is economically important for us to relay a safe, consistent message that we are an historic seaport with a story to tell. And most of all, that we respect our history.
This stretch of blacktop is not only disrupting the feel of the area but is also violating the basic tenets of a consistent ADA-compliant surface. This property owner has continued the driveway and no one in the City has bothered to stop them, or better, inform them the historic brick sidewalk should be continued. And this kind of behavior has been repeated all across the Newburyport Historic District. It is only pointed out here because it lies on our historic High Street near the Downtown.
I encourage the DPS, in an effort to enhance heritage tourism and the consistency of this neighborhood, to replace this stretch with historic brick.
It is time we stop being known as Tom Ryan has stated, “Cannibal City”. We should strive to preserve the past and honor the architectural culture and we should do it to improve the aesthetic and historic look of the City.
There is an underlying economic benefit that is derived from historic preservation.
Of course, I would love to have all the sidewalks within the Newburyport Historic District made of brick, lined with granite curbing and ADA-compliant and consistent throughout. But at this time, we simply don’t have the money so it makes common sense to focus bricking at the most advantageous stretches in our City.
Let’s make this stretch a priority!
-P. Preservationist www.ppreservationist.com
PS. Recently, developers have come up with a great excuse. Because the driveway of blacktop may have salt used on it to melt the ice during winter, the brick sidewalk will be severely downgraded. I have a simple solution! DON’T USE ROCK SALT TO MELT THE ICE. Use sand instead. It is environmentally better for the environment and it helps bricks be firmer. And considering most of our runoff flows into the Merrimack, you’ll actually be doing something to improve our ecology!