Summer 2017 - Cost $0.00

I hope that everyone had a good fall and what seemed like a very quiet winter until just a few days ago. As usual, the City is very busy and there are a lot of important issues being debated, worked on, and progressing. Here is your Ward 1 focused, Summer 2017 update:
• Wastewater Treatment Plant Odor Mitigation (and other water/sewer items)

While smaller parts of the project have been underway since last year, the main part of the project is now underway after a good period of planning and vetting. This portion of the project includes clarifier covers, replacement biofilter, and signifigant upgrades to the existing ductwork and air collection network at the plant. Without a doubt, this is the largest part of the project both financially and operationally. First, however, was the necessity to get an appropriate temporary odor controls in place both to serve while the construction is ongoing and to improve conditions for this summer as compared to last. This has now been completed and the main project is underway. Here is a brief synopsis of all the pieces:

1) Biofilter - this is the large filtration system that will help cleanse the air of odors. It is a large concrete rectangle that will sit towards the back of the plan, it is a replacement for the existing biofilter. The other component of the filter are fan units that push the air from various points in the plant to the filter.

2) Clarifier covers - these will cover the large circular tanks

3) Associated ductwork, mechanicals, chemical feed, and monitoring systems

Now that the project is underway, it is slated to last about 6-9 months. More updates as they are received. Odor complaints can be sent to odor@cityofnewburyport.com

• Rail Trail Update

The Rail Trail continues along at a good pace. The major highlights since the last update are twofold:
1) Some contaminated soil was found behind the Wastewater treatment plant and is being dealt with appropriately

2) The Contractor is getting ready to pave more sections of the trail (base coat) with asphalt

3) There have been a lot of questions with respect to March's Hill and the the access way that has been created to connect the trail to High St. In conjunction with the Ward 2 Councillor and the admininistration, we are working to find a solution that would still allow for access to High St. that is suitable for all, including those with disabilities, while restoring some of the park to a more acceptable form. More details to come.

• Plum Island Hydrant Project and Sewer Update
The City has been making efforts to prepare a project to replace the hydrants on Plum Island. This project was designed in-house and was recently sent to bid. At my request and that of several other City Councillor's, I was insistent that we wait to vote on the funding for this project until the bids returned. The project was originally estimated to cost $1.9M or so. Unfortunately, the bids came in substantially higher at about $2.9M+. There are no compromises to be made on the project so there is no room to re-bid the project. As such, the bid must be vetted and, barring any new information, ultimately accept it. The hard-fought Plum Island Utility Fund does have the funds to support this higher price tag, but unfortunately will utilize substantially more of it than initially expected.

The sewer system continue to be "alarmed" meaning that the health and status of individual pits remotely and more quickly respond to issues as they arise.
• Waterfront progress
The ad-hoc committee is completed its work and culminated that with a unanimous City Counvil vote in support of the final draft of the report. An extreme amount of work has gone into this report over the past 2 years and it really is a cumlimitaive effort with all of the stakeholders doing the best possible to bring all of the different concerns together and to find compromise. Now that the report has been accepted, it is up to the parties to advance it forward. I think the best way for this to happen is for the Waterfront Trust and Newburyport Redevelopment Authority to take a vote on the principal of the document to show their support for the framework.
• Joppa Park
The City has been trying to garner a grant to make improvements to the Joppa Park boat ramp. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the boat ramp would have to be narrowed per the state in order to be awarded the grant. This idea was met with strong (and unanimous) objection from everyone in the neighborhood, abutters, and those who use the ramp. Attempts are being made to determine if the grant can still be acquired without narrowing the ramp. The ramp is very well used and a very valuable community asset.
• Brown School
The primary goals of this endeavor are to find a way to reuse the Brown School while creating an appropritate space (and permanent home) for Youth Services with upgrades. The City issued an RFP to find what the market may have to offer. 3 responses have been received and those options are now being considered. As more information becomes available, I will share it.
• Wastewater Treatment Plan surplus property
The City Council voted to surplus this property for lease, subject to certain terms. 3 responses were received and the Mayor's office/selection committee is reviewing them. As I have more information, I will share it.

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• Intermodal Facility/Parking Garage
At a recent meeting, the City Council did vote to appropriate funds to purchase the land on the corner of Merrimac and Titcomb subject to very specific terms and conditions. Unfortunately the Purchase and Sale that was presented was deeply flawed and was unsupportable as presented. It was only due to the work of several City Councillors that we were able to find a way forward. That being said, the garage, itself, is still very much a question mark. There are many questions about traffic, finances, partnership and other vital details that we still don't yet know. To be clear, the City has only votes a) to fund the design of the garage and b) to acquire the land subject to fair terms and conditions. The construction has not yet been funded or presented to the Council.
• Brown School
The primary goals of this endeavor are to find a way to reuse the Brown School while creating an appropritate space (and permanent home) for Youth Services with upgrades. The City issued an RFP to find what the market may have to offer. 3 responses have been received and those options are now being considered. As more information becomes available, I will share it.
• 25mph City-wide speed limit
The Council has passed an order to reduce the City-wide speed limit to 25mph for any street that is thickly settled and does NOT already have a speed limit sign up on it. As such, for example, a road like Low St. which is already posted at higher than 25mph would remain at it posted speed limit. This would primarily be for smaller neighborhood Streets (e.g. Marlboro, Bromfield, Salem, Charles, Purchase, Franklin, etc). Your feedback is encouraged.
• Other issues
Waterfront West/NED has presented a proposal for their master development. In relation, the City hired an expert named Jeff Speck to review the plans. He did so and presented his opinion at a recent committee meeting for our consumption. In my opinion, the same concerns exist: density, heigh, and parking.
• Are you signed up for Code Red?
If you're interested in receiving calls from the City in cases of emergency, please make sure you're signed up for CodeRed:
Please click here to read more and sign up: http://newburyportpolice.com/resources/code-red/
• My current legislative efforts
I have an important item before the Council:

1) Infill reduction - Many folks have been following the master plan process. The thought process was that the City should complete its master planning process before moving forward with zoning changes (some may recall the a zoning rewrite has supposedly been underway though very stalled). One of the biggest divisions during the master planning process has been infill. To me, infill means the addition of more units (e.g. lot cramming, large additions, zero lot lines, etc). In fact, the administration proposed upzoning parts of the North End to allow multifamily units. If there is one thing that residents have been asking for - it's to reduce infill. I am proud, along with Councillors Cronin and Tontar, to have placed an amendment to rezone some of the tightest parts of the City to R2 (2 Family) down from R3 (multifamily). This is a commonsense idea to reduce infill while still leaving the option open to continue to have a diverse housing stock. It's time to move forward with our zoning changes.

I will continue to work hard to address issues big and small. I ask that anyone with a concern consider attending a City Council meeting and addressing the body during Public Comment, which is always towards the top of the agenda. Your voice matters and your thoughts count but only if you make them heard. It is my honor and privilege to serve. If I can be of service on any matter or concern, please don't hesitate to contact me! My contact information is located at the bottom of this page.

I hope that everyone enjoys what's left of Summer!


Sharif I. Zeid
City of Newburyport, Ward 1 Councillor