Chain Bridge

Chain Bridge

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Newburyport and Amesbury – I-95 North-- Right Lane Closure on Whittier Bridge, August 26 and 27

MassDOT will close the right lane of I-95 North between Route 113 in Newburyport and Route 110 in Amesbury on Wednesday, August 26 and Thursday, August 27 from 6:00 AM to midnight. The closures are necessary to give crews access to pour concrete for the new northbound Whittier Bridge span.

MassDOT encourages drivers to avoid the area and seek alternate routes to minimize delays. Those traveling through the area should expect delays and should reduce speed and use caution. 
For more information, questions or concerns about the work, please contact Daniel Fielding, MassDOT Legislative Liaison, at857-368-8959 or  

For more information about the project, visit the website at View progress photos on MassDOT’s Whittier Bridge Flickr Album.

The schedule for this major infrastructure project is weather dependent and subject to change without notice. 

Roadway Crack Sealant Application to Start in September in Ward 5


The Department of Public Services (DPS) has recently inspected the roadway conditions of all publicly owned streets in Newburyport to determine which streets would be suitable for roadway crack sealant.

Over time, the pavement on our roadways develops cracks on the surface. Also small joints between the pavement can grow larger as our roads age. As a result, water will enter these cracks and joints and cause them to expand and grow in length. This water intrusion reduces the structural integrity of the pavement.

To eliminate or reduce this water intrusion, we use a crack sealant material that can extend the life of a roadway another three to five years. Some roadways may even experience a five to ten year extension.

Crack sealant is black in color and made from a liquid asphalt material. It is used to fill cracks and joints in roadway pavement. The material may be driven on or walked on within minutes after final coating is applied.

The roadways are chosen based on their condition. Streets graded in excellent to very good condition are not candidates for the crack sealant. Streets graded in good to fair condition are perfect candidates for crack sealant. Finally, streets in poor condition are so far beyond extending their lifespan, that applying crack sealant would not be cost effective.

Our annual funding from the state’s Chapter 90 allocation allows us to crack seal a large number of streets each year. This season, DPS will focus on Wards 5 and 6. We expect to start work in September and it will take about five to seven days to complete.

If you have any questions regarding this program, please feel free to contact DPS Deputy Director, Wayne S. Amaral at 978-465-4464 extension 1703 or by email at

Friday, August 14, 2015

City to launch a curbside organics collection pilot program for South End residents

Posted on: August 13, 2015 - 7:01pm
The City of Newburyport will be launching a two-year curbside organics collection pilot program in September. While the pilot will be limited to the Monday trash route in the South End (Ocean Ave to Lime St), programing and education around the pilot will encompass how the whole community can move towards zero waste, with information on “perfect curbside recycling,” other diversion options for packaging and household goods, and how residents throughout the city can start composting in their home, backyard – or at the curb.
Numerous cities and towns both nationally and in Massachusetts have instituted or are piloting residential organics (food waste) collection programs not just to divert waste but to provide useful and valuable compost. Thanks in part to a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), residents in Newburyport’s South End will have the opportunity to help the City learn best practices and prove the value to both our bottom line and environmental impact.
From now until September 8th, residents on the Monday route can sign up to participate through the City’s Recycling and Energy Office (see contact information below) in the two-year pilot which includes weekly collection of organics,  a kitchen counter bucket and a rolling curbside cart. Continous information and support on how and what to divert will be provided throughout the pilot. In exchange for the free items and organics collection, participants will be asked for feedback on what works and what needs improvement to evaluate the possibility of implementing a city-wide plan.
This project supports an objective to divert organics from the waste stream, and complements Massachusetts’s DEP’s recent ban on organics in the waste stream for generators of more than 1 ton of organic waste per week. Vermont has recently passed a statewide residential ban on organics in the waste stream to be fully implemented by 2020.  Clearly, this is a regulation on the horizon.
Waste disposal constitutes over $1 million in Newburyport’s annual budget and the costs of collecting, hauling and incinerating (disposal) are hard to predict, making budgeting difficult. Due to continued landfill closures, increasing populations and increasing consumption, there are grave concerns regarding capacity for incinerators in the Commonwealth.
Newburyport’s waste is hauled to an incinerator in North Andover. In a materials study (Waste Characterization Study, 2011) at the facility, the largest category of waste was food waste, accounting for 15.2% of the total weight. According to a 2011-2012 zero waste study in Newburyport, participants who adopted composting cut the weight of their household trash output anywhere from 37% - 80%! Many participants went from disposing several bags of trash per week to a single bag of trash every other week and even to once a month for some. 
Using conservative estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), composting would reduce trash by weight by 30%, saving Newburyport over $94,000 in tipping fees per year, not to mention the potential savings in collection and hauling costs. Some cost savings would have to be redirected to the cost for collection and hauling of compost, and getting a handle on these costs is part of the reason for this pilot curbside organics.
If you are interested in learning more about the Newburyport Organics Pilot or more about composting in Newburyport in general, please visit our website at , send an email to, or call the city’s Recycling and Energy Office at 978-499-0413.
We will have a table at next Sunday’s Farmers’ Market (Sunday 16 August) and will be holding workshops at City Hall and the library in the upcoming weeks. Dates and times will be on both the city’s and the pilot’s website as well as our Facebook Page (Newburyport Curbside Organics Collection Pilot – you do not need a Facebook account to view this page!) The first 30-minutes of the workshops will cover general waste diversion strategies beyond composting and all residents are very welcome to attend.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Please be aware that State, Pleasant and Liberty Streets will be closed from 2:00pm-8:00pm on Thursday, 8/13/15, for Cruisin' the 50s Event

Please be aware that State, Pleasant and Liberty Streets will be closed from 2:00pm-8:00pm on Thursday, 8/13/15, with classic cars lining both sides of State Street and one side of Pleasant Street. No vehicular traffic will be allowed on these streets from 2-8 PM. Cars will also be placed on Inn and Unicorn Streets as well. All sides streets off of State Street will be closed to non-resident traffic as well. No Parking signs will be posted on Wednesday at noon.

All deliveries must be re-routed to an alternate location or timed to avoid the road closure as no traffic will be permitted on State and Pleasant Streets. 

All businesses and residents in the area are requested to wait until after 8pm to place trash and recycling out on the curb. If you cannot meet this requirement, please utilize the Inn Street side of the Green Street parking lot for trash and recycling placement. Please remember that on Inn Street recycling goes the left as you face the parking lot and trash goes on the right side.

Bus service will not be provided on State Street after 2:00PM on Thursday, however, passengers can board at Pond Street in front of the CVS Pharmacy.  An MVRTA Supervisor will be positioned on State Street to make sure passengers cross over to Pond and do not miss their buses. The Supervisor will be on duty while buses are in service.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

40R Meeting Minutes June 17, 2015

City of Newburyport
Joint Public Hearing
Planning Board and Planning & Development Subcommittee
June 17, 2015
 Page 1 of 1

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM.

1. Roll Call
In attendance for the Planning Board: James Brugger, Sue Grolnic, Noah Luskin, Jim McCarthy,
Doug Locy, Leah McGavern, Andrew Shapiro, Bonnie Sontag and Don Walters
In attendance for the Planning & Development Subcommittee of the City Council: Jared
Eigerman, Barry Connell, and Ed Cameron (arrived 7:12 PM)

Planning & Development Director Andrew Port was also present.
2. Planning Board and Planning & Development Committee of the City Council Joint
Public Hearing on proposed zoning amendments:

a) Amend the Zoning Ordinance and the Zoning Map to establish a new zoning overlay
District entitled “Smart Growth District”
(Continued from 5/6/2015)

Director Port reviewed documents and information required by the state and placed copy of the
40R application materials at the end of the table for everyone to access. The application included
highlights of the 40R district, benefits to the City, a delineation of developable and
undevelopable land, and detailed how 40R would increase affordable housing. Infrastructure
upgrades were required to receive the award and for developments to connect to the sewer
system. The pump station was already part of infrastructure improvements scheduled for
completion within five years. The district, entirely built out, would add a maximum of 155 new
school-aged children and 135 affordable units. The calculation used to estimate students for the
entire area was based on 542 units. The state was obligated to pay for any gap in revenue to
support additional students. The superintendent said space for additional students was phasing in
now and the number of new students would not have an impact. The net revenue for a full build
out was $661,653. With 200 units there would be a revenue increase of $263,000 per year. The
revenue fell to $22,000 per year for 80 units. The state must approve the overall build out and
would tell the City which lots were most likely to be developed first. There would be no credit
for properties unlikely to be developed. The Department of Public Services letter answers
Councilor Eigerman’s questions about sewer flow for a full build out. The Merrimack Valley
Planning Commission (MVPC) would perform an analysis in about a week on area roadways:
how roads would be utilized, handle new traffic and turning movements, and the intersection
reconfiguration. The state would work with MA DOT who controlled Route 1. The last page was
a financial analysis of 540 units. The items accorded with the table of contents in the application.
Planning Board and Planning & Development Subcommittee

Chairman McCarthy said the comprehensive technical and financial information in the
application, submitted to the state last Friday, took considerable coordination within the City.
Usually, parcels like those in the district were developed one at a time. The board demonstrated a
concerted planning effort making decisions for all parcels in the district at one time.
Members noted the sensitivity of traffic and more students. Irrespective of a 40R overlay district,
the area would eventually develop anyway. What was gained by approving the application
compared to doing nothing? What other costs would the City would incur? Director Port said
there no significant cost increases for City services would be incurred. Water and sewer existed
in the area and revenue shortfalls for students would be covered by the state. The MVPC
proposed a $31,000 study of the entire Route 1 corridor, from the circle to the bridge, for the
next calendar year to determine pedestrian/bicycle friendly designs in the next few years.
The subcommittee had not yet reviewed the application and Councilor Eigerman recommended
taking testimony now, setting a date for the vote, and postponing if the traffic study was not
ready. Councilor Connell asked for assumed number of vehicles. Director Port said a full build
out assumed 650 vehicles; 80 units assumed 100 vehicles. Councilor Cameron noted the
assumption was a little more than one car per unit Director Port had factored in commercial
space. Councilor Connell asked if the percentage of 1-2- and 3-bedroom units and number of
students were the same on for each build out figure? Director Port said 35% were 1-bedroom
units, 52% were 2-bedroom units, and 12% were 3-bedroom units. Councilor Cameron asked if
the City was permitted to reduce the district size once the application had been submitted?
Director Port said a size revision would require resubmission. The state would assess and
categorize the land included. Minor adjustments would not require resubmission. Councilor
Cameron asked what future development would resemble without the 40R, now and in 20 years.
Director Port said without 40R, the area would be less residential and become more commercial
and industrial, similar to today. The City would not have control over building design or
massing, resulting in a mixed bag that could include strip malls. 40R would increase infill around
the train station and improve the aesthetics of the overall area.

Councilor Cameron said 40R was relatively new, only a few communities had completed
projects. What were potential issues for receiving the funds for the one-time and 40S payments?
Director Port had not heard of any problems. The Department of Revenue required DHCD
review. The three or four communities with a 40R had received the full amount expected.
Councilor Connell asked about the revenue stream that supported payments. Director Port said it
was not tied to the Registry or the legislature. Councilor Cameron asked if Director Port had seen
any design review enhancements that fit with Newburyport? Director Port showed a 40R mixeduse
building with differentiated materials on lower and upper floors. The Planning Board would
addressed articulation around windows, parking lots with shade, plantings, elevations, floor
plans, building ornamentation, and similar items.

Chairman McCarthy said 40R provided flexibility. Instead of being constrained by a 20-foot
setback, buildings could be repositioned on a lot. How long would it take to fully build out?
Director Port said a full build out would take several decades and 5-7 years for 200 hundred
units. Chairman McCarthy said full build out assumed about 1,000 people. Councilor Connell
Planning Board and Planning & Development Subcommittee asked what options existed if the first project was a miserable process? Director Port said theCity could un-adopt the ordinance and return any payments to the state. Councilor Connell askedabout the Ambulance property. Director Port showed the property location on the map. The MBTA put it out to bid. Any parcel filing in a year or two would be part of the second phase.

Members asked for the anticipated approval date and when the first project was anticipated.
Director Port said the earliest date for another hearing was July 15th. The state needed 30 days
and their feedback would be a City level discussion. The City’s response would be posted on the
website. If the board and subcommittee were comfortable, the subcommittee could recommend
adoption to the whole Council. Two hearings would take place to include the second reading.
Members asked if the financial analysis was yearly and for how long? Director Port said the
analysis would be yearly in perpetuity. The Department of Revenue was obligated to make the
allocated payments to the City. Developers would designate a percentage of the units for
affordable housing, such as 20%, which would be subsidized by market rate units. Tenants
would be required to meet an income threshold in their application process. Members asked if
there was local preference? Director Port said the group could work with the Council to create
that preference. The units would be deed restricted and generally remain at lower rental prices.
Members asked about the district-financing letter. Director Port said internal conversations did
not support applying for the district-financing program at this time.

Public comment open.

Tom Kolterjahn, 64 Federal Street, saw benefits in the added revenue. He was concerned about
the real impact of 130 students on the schools and what 540 units would look like.
Jeanette Isabella, 1 Lime Street, asked if there was a plan to fix existing problems prior to adding
new infrastructure? Additional sewage for the malfunctioning plant did not make sense. The odor
at the corner of Water and Lime Streets was worse than ever before.

Jim McCauley, 27 Storeybrooke Drive, said water and sewer infrastructure not in good shape
would be burdened by a 12-15% increase in population. Betterment fees could help upgrade
systems and keep current ratepayers from shouldering the burden. The state stopped matching
taxes the way they used to, an indication that the school money might not last forever either.

Charles Tontar, 29 Jefferson Street, said Smart Growth encouraged density in order to protect
open space in other areas and eliminated the separation of business and residential uses by
promoting mixed-use buildings to create a livelier community. There would always be a need for
new housing; if clustered by the train station, there would be less need for neighborhood infill.
Would the City take additional steps to discourage infill in other ways, such as through zoning
changes? Director Port agreed that infill could be addressed better.

Bruce Menin, 83 Lime Street, said 155 new students was about a 7% increase in the student
body. What were the assumptions for children in the build out? Director Port said growth
elsewhere in the City was expected to decrease evenly in lower grades, producing an even
outcome with today. Mr. Menin said the school committee has re-opened school choice in the
lower grades, hoping to fill those spaces now. Space may not be available next year or year after
next. The $600,000 payment seemed good now, but the school committee did not want to return
to using trailers later. Director Port said the $600,000 was a one-time payment from the state
after the pump station was upgraded. The City was submitting a state grant to cover all or part of
upgrade expenses and had a good chance of winning the grant. There were also state payments
per unit constructed and the 40S school-aged children reimbursement to consider.

Attorney William Harris, 56 Lime Street, said reducing infill within National Historic Registry
neighborhoods by developing a high-density district could stop the disruption to neighborhoods
and preserve their authenticity. Infill projects did not meet Department of Interior standards. Did
the 40R make the City eligible for state/federal transit funds or a higher priority for grants?
Director Port said the City would receive higher priority on grant applications, as would the
MVRTA for bringing their transit system to Newburyport.

Scott Blackman, 16 ½ Hill Street, said infrastructure and schools costs would equal money
coming in from a 10 % population increase. There was no money in the proposal. The City’s
recent right sizing of schools did not factor in this increase. Trailers were not good for education
and who would pay for them? The opportunity for more industrial and commercial business at
the train station, like in Beverly, developed a tax base that did not stress schools and brought
people to work and shop in Newburyport. The City had not defined ideal growth. When zoning
individual projects, the neighborhood voice was not heard, as with the wind turbine.
Mary Eaton, 3 Foster Court, asked if traffic studies would provide visuals for a rotary redesign
and whether the board had the power to say no if residents hated a particular 40R project?
Director Port said 40R gave the board control over design guidelines and other criteria that
influenced a project, but had no control over use. The circle redesign to address traffic volume
would consider a much smaller roundabout or a T-intersection. The study would make a
recommendation. Chairman McCarthy said circle redesign priorities were pedestrians and
bicycles and connecting to both to the rail trail and downtown.

Erik Metzdorf, 17 55th Street, local business owner, had spent considerable time in the train
station area the past year. His customers wanted a rail trail connection. The district’s first floor
height and articulation was favorable. Schools were not an issue because 10% growth would
occur anyway, without the district. He supported reducing infill through a high-density district
and was sympathetic to pressure for affordable housing for seniors. He paid betterment fees on
Plum Island and supported that idea, but the Plum Island upgrade was not enough. Was more
information available on the $500,000 and $5 million?

Alex Bellinger, 3 Dexter Street, supported the 40R overlay district.

Sheila Mullins, 7 Parsons Street, said the Daily News reported 906 units. Director Port corrected
the misprint as the number of bedrooms. Ms. Mullins asked what the City had received for the
project so far, what had other communities received, and who were they? Director Port said
funds from the state would not come until the district was adopted and the pump station
upgraded in about 2 ½ years.

Hugh Secker-Walker, 8 Cherry Street, urged the City to address the lack of parking. Why were
half the recommended units under consideration when creating a vibrant, easily accessible area
was the goal? He lived less than 1,000 feet from the traffic circle that he crossed daily to take the
train and wanted pedestrian issues prioritized. The train brought people who walked up Hill
Street not knowing how to get downtown. Development around the station would be 4-500 feet
from the rail yard where train noise started at 4 AM and ended after midnight. The undesirable
noise would create problems. Director Port said Smart Growth deemphasized cars and provided
housing where residents could walk. The business park would have walkable office space in the
future. Despite noise, the concept worked well in other areas. Mr. Secker-Walker said
Newburyport had a train depot, not a station; other communities had train stations.
Ann Spraker, 20 Tremont Street, said documented research showed that children living close to
train depots suffered from the health effects of diesel exhaust.

Sharif Zeid, 192 Water Street, asked why a Smart Growth district was needed when zoning
changes could suffice? He challenged the assumption of perpetuity. Chapter 70 was an example
of state money disappearing over time. He supported self-sustaining development. A residential
environment around the train station would differ from living in Wards 1 or 2.

Andrew Morris, 23 Cherry Street, said a 650 car parking capacity for 500 units was unrealistic.
Every adult would have a car, resulting in 1,000 cars. If schools were at capacity now, 155 new
children could require a new building, eliminating any gain from the ordinance. Enhancing the
attractiveness of the traffic circle while planning for a traffic increase were incompatible goals.
The mayor had said development needed to be done slowly over time in order to readjust
assumptions. The ordinance should manage the growth over time to avoid undue pressure on
infrastructure. How were residents’ best interests served by the 40R?

Rob Germinara, 2 Ashland Street, demonstrated on the map the main drain swale moving
through part of the district. Three developable parcels showed water present and had six feet of
water from a flooding rainstorm nine years ago. The parcels should be designated undevelopable
unless used as a percentage of property. Nothing should be built on south side of Boston Way.
Diane Teed, 58 Spofford Street, said a full build out would not take decades. The Dunkin’
Donuts area developed rapidly. The timing of development needed to be controlled. She
encouraged residents to look at the reasonableness of the proposal’s assumptions.

Chairman McCarthy asked residents with expertise to read the material and ask questions.
Members requested timely access to documentation to allow time for review and questions.
Don Walters made a motion to continue the Smart Growth District zoning overlay to August 5th.
James Brugger seconded and all members voted in favor.
Ed Cameron made a motion to continue the Smart Growth District zoning overlay to August 5th.
Jared Eigerman seconded and all members voted in favor.
Motion Approved.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Amesbury and Newburyport – I-95 North and South -----------Nighttime Rolling Roadblocks and Lane Closures, August 3 and 4

Amesbury and Newburyport – I-95 North and South
Nighttime Rolling Roadblocks and Lane Closures, August 3 and 4
MassDOT will implement nighttime “rolling roadblocks” on I-95 South on Monday, August 3 and I-95 North on Tuesday, August 4 as part of the Whittier Bridge/I-95 Improvement Project. State Police will travel at reduced speeds to slow traffic flow and allow the contractor to safely remove steel beams from the old Pine Hill Road/Ferry Road Bridge in Newburyport. The “rolling roadblocks” will start at 11:00 PM each night and occur once every hour until 3:00 AM the next morning on the following dates:
  • Monday, August 3 – I-95 South between Route 110 and the Pine Hill Road/Ferry Road Bridge
  • Tuesday, August 4 – I-95 North between Route 113 and the Pine Hill Road/Ferry Road Bridge
Additional nighttime lane closures are scheduled on I-95 between Route 113 and Route 110 from 8:00 PM to 5:00 AM:
  • Monday, August 3
    • Two right lanes on I-95 North
    • Two right lanes on I-95 South
  • Tuesday, August 4
    • Two left lanes on I-95 North
    • Two left lanes on I-95 South
MassDOT encourages drivers to avoid the area and seek alternate routes to minimize delays. Those traveling through the area should expect delays and should reduce speed and use caution. 
For more information, questions or concerns about the work, please contact Daniel Fielding, MassDOT Legislative Liaison, at857-368-8959 or  
For more information about the project, visit the website at View progress photos on MassDOT’s Whittier Bridge Flickr Album:  
The schedule for this major infrastructure project is weather dependent and subject to change without notice.

Emergency Water Main Repair

Properties in the Summit Place area will experience a temporary disruption of water service and/or discolored water while City crews complete repairs to the water main on Summit Place, Friday, July 31st.
Additional areas that could be affected with discolored water include Toppans Lane, High Street, Low Street and associated side streets.
The following suggestions will help avoid problems with discolored water:
  1. Check for discolored water before running appliances that use water, such as dishwashers and washing machines.
  2. If you have discolored water, wait 15-minutes and run the cold faucets until it’s clear again. 
  3. Avoid using bleach in laundry as this worsens any staining that may occur.
  4. In the event clothes are stained, there are products available at local hardware and department stores that will remove the stains when re-washing the clothes.  The Business Office at City Hall and the Water Treatment Plant have a supply of this product available to residents free of charge.
  5. Do not dry stained laundry. 
We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause and thank you in advance for your cooperation.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Water Treatment Plant at 978 465 4466.