Kent St. Parking Lot

April 1, 2008

Sorry for the lack of recent posts, I’ve been extremely busy and just hadn’t had the time, but I’ve got a few minutes for a new one, so here goes…

I read recently in both local newspapers that Mayor Moak intends on pushing ahead with a plan for a senior center at the Kent St. Parking lot. My problem is that no one has yet addressed the concerns of the residents who live in that neighborhood.

This isn’t a “i don’t want a senior center in my back yard” issue. Not at all. It is strictly a parking issue. Where are these people supposed to park their cars during snow storms? That lot is 100% full during EVERY snow emergency, so obviously there is a need for it.

The city painted itself into this corner a long time ago when houses in the neighborhood were being bought up and restored to condo’s and two family homes, and weren’t required to provide parking. For decades that lot has been the only off street parking that many of the homes in that neighborhood have, and for people that have bought homes there recently, they bought it with the promise that they had off street parking in the winter.

I believe the Mayor suggested that the people that park there now can park at Cashman Park. The same Cashman Park that floods during major storms. So, it would be my assumption that either the city will prevent the river from flooding, or pay for all damages suffered by the citizens forced to park there. Seems fair, right?

Further, the students at the High School are instructed to park at the Kent St. lot during all snow emergencies, where are they to park now? It must be hard enough to find a parking spot there now, but cutting it in half is going to make it all but impossible. We’ve all seen the number of cars parked out side the High School, couple that with the local neighbors and you’re going to have a serious problem.

Again, this has nothing to do with a Senior Center. Everyone wants a Senior Center, but it has to be done right, not quickly. Find a good, solid plan that works for everyone, and don’t try to get it done before your term runs out so you can have a platform to run on next election.



  1. Please, just what would be the ‘promise’ of free use of public land for the use of private automobiles as opposed to the use of public property for the use of our Seniors? Why should I, as a City taxpayer, care if you (or anyone) who own automobile(s) and have (or have not) a place to park your personal property? Inclusive of ‘toys’ (boats, commercial vehicles, motorcycles etc.)that one does not have room on their own properties for? There is no comparison to the need for the use this property to serve the whole community population as a viable community project and not just those who purchased their homes with out care or consideration for ownership and storage for their personal property. In comparison I offer the area off downtown and even outer areas where there is also no street parking and there exists no city sponsored paking for residents. There is no taking of private property for public parking, even in snow emergency. Why should this neighborhood be allowed special considerations on the private use of public property? Purchasers of homes, be it a ‘condo’ or a ‘ converted multi family’ ,have no expressed ‘rights’ to public lands for ‘private use for ‘storage of private property’. Even the stated use of ‘Cashman Park’ is overstating the rights of use by private individuals of public property. In short, if you have no lands of your own, why should I or another taxpayer carry the burden of supplying you with space that is owned and maintained by the public funds and would better serve the whole population as a better use of our shared resources. The history of the neighborhood is one of mixed commerce and housing, not public housing that we as a community would need to provide open spaces.
    For this argumet of needed parking to be viable, then an offer to purchase should be forth comming from the surrounding areas that ‘need’ this area to park and the funds recieved could be reserved to further the cause for Seniors Projects. Therefore the costs maintenance of this parking area and public park would be transfered to the users of the land and a tax collected on its value. Ask Karp if he is concerned if you have land to use for your own needs. I’m with the Mayor on this one, plain and simple logic.

  2. Other parts of the city have parking provided for them in public areas during snow emergencies, the municipal lots downtown, the NRA lots, the Kelly School playground, etc…

    Also, the lot originally wasn’t public land, it was purchased, i believe to remain parking for the neighborhood after the factory no longer needed it.

  3. So then these displaced privately owned autos could use the mentioned public lots also. Noting that whatever the reason for the public purchase this ‘lot’,and it was purchased with all our tax dollars, it is now ‘Public Property’ and as with all things, time changes things and the need for a Senior Center greatly out weights the subsidizing of allowing public access to private use of storage space for those who do not have land mass to keep their automobiles. People who buy into property then acquire several cars and or ‘other’ toys should not look for the rest of the City to supply them with parking. I moved from Orange Street to the West end to solve the very same situations that are being experienced by these neighborhoods that were built and occupied by families that walked to work in the local factories. Now the automobile is more prevalent but there is no requirement of the whole taxpayers of this City to suffer a cost for storing these vehicles. The issue of a senior center is not being ‘rushed into as this issue has been discussed for many years. Probably more years than most of the automobiles have been using this property to park upon. The ‘property’ is jointly held in ownership by all taxpayers, inclusive of the very same elderly that need a Senior Center that is being placed behind the greed of the automobile owners you defend. How can I as a west ender justify the private parking at this location and the dismissal of the use of our shared land for our Seniors? the same argument could be used for Soccer Fields, new Schools, Police, fire, Sewer Treatment, Water Resources etcetera and any other taking of property for the betterment of our community. Should we (the City) take property that is presently family housing and use the land to give to the Seniors? Thereby displacing homes for this needed (and promised) use? This is no quick decision as it took many denials of other locations to decide upon this land. Lets move on and get something built and now. Buy a bicycle and put it in your front hall. Or move closer to your job or buy land to store your vehicle ….Park on the Soccer Fields and the Baseball diamonds during the Winter and emergencies…let the City use our land for the residents that are Senior. And learn to share what is not only yours but ours also.

  4. First of all, i don’t park there. Second, a better solution can be found for a senior center. This location may be central, but it is still a mile from downtown. If the seniors want to be close to the waterfront, downtown stores, and the library, then they need a senior center that is closer to downtown.

    If we are going to spend 5 million dollars to build a brand new Senior Center, why not use that money to rehab the Kelly School? It is a much better location, and it would solve the parking issue.

    Dan, for the record, are you a senior?

  5. For the record, No, not yet, but I’m trying.

    As for the Kelly location, you may be partly correct, but the other uses for
    the City would be more in line with the reinvestment needed to convert
    for Senior use. A ‘New Construction’ building would be designed to incorporate ADA needs and may be
    less expensive in the long run due to the probability of grants and private
    investments that can be solicited with new construction. The advent of a sale of the Kelly property on the open and the public market would create new tax revenue and /or rental-lease income for the City, off setting a minor amount of the Senior Center cost. There is also the parking issue at that location. The playground is not covenant in the property of the actual building. Also the parking of cars there has encroached the use of the playground there, creating a danger to the folks that use it year ’round.
    In my opinion a subsidized parking area for private vehicles that the rest of us taxpayers pay a fee to maintain for private use.
    Will i get a break on my taxes because my large land mass is capable of storing my taxed property without depending upon City Services and accesses? Can i park one of my trucks or a piece of equipment in a City lot free of charge or violation?
    there has developed a certain greed in Newburyport over the years and the population has developed a need to require the City to support their needs to an extreem. This needs to stop and it should begin now, when there is a need greater than claiming ownership where it does not exist. we all own that property. All wards and neghborhoods, not just the local residents as we all share in the cost to purchase and maintain the lot. For years people have gotten a free ride on all our dimes. Now there is a greater need! Now we need to find other means of storing our personal property and repay the Seniors with a place to socialize and meet. An asset to any community.

  6. You’re not offering any solutions, just creating an additional problem. The fact remains that all the cars that depend on that lot need somewhere to go, they can’t park in the street. The high school kids need a place to park, they can’t park in the street. The lot is owned by everyone, which is why anyone can park there (ie. a high school kid that lives on Plum Island). Whether or not you are right, the problem of parking still remains, and can’t be ignored.

  7. What Problem? There is no problem for the City to solve, only for the owners of private vehicles. Pure and simple logic here. The High School students DO NOT NEED and are not entitled nor are guaranteed any parking at all to get a rounded education. (kid from PI has free transportation using the bus which is a lot cheaper than maintaining a car)Problem solved. The area residents do not need ‘public parking’ from the city to store their possessions, again simple logic (if one wants to see the forest for the trees that is). You are creating a problem by recognizing and placing value upon the private use of public owned land. For years a freebee was allowed. Now it goes away due to the need of a group of taxpayers. When I grew up and obtained a car, I needed to find a parking space or sell the car. After all the City taxpayers do not own my car and parking is the responsibility of the owner. Maybe we will see a lot less cars in neighborhoods that were not built for multi family cars? Therefore less City investment into maintenance of these roads?
    The problem of the Seniors having a space of their own (and not contributing to the excess use of the City roads and parking due to the need to utilize several separate buildings to receive benefits) is the problem solved and I thought this problem was what needed to be solved!
    Natural commerce will take effect and some entrepreneur will step up and build a parking lot (for a fee) to offer an alternative for all those poor misplaced residences that assumed that ’we’ the City taxpayers as a whole were mandated to supply them with ‘private’ parking.
    Where is there an added problem here? All rules and regulations state that you own it, you are responsible for it!
    I’ve got land for sale, make an offer!
    The solution to this problem would be for the neighborhood to purchase the lot and charge for maintaining their corporative fees to park there. So there is an offer of a solution to both problems. Sale of the property would pay Seniors to go away and build elsewhere. If the Cit is willing to sell off equity that is. Then the ‘not in my back yard’ would be a truthful statement. Using the parking ‘rights’ to discriminate against Seniors is a truly anti- community statement that is not palatable to me.

  8. You can choose to ignore the problem, but it exists whether you recognize it or not. The people that own those cars pay their taxes, they pay their excise tax, and they are allowed to park in that lot, as are you or anyone else that lives in the city. THEY ARE ENTITLED, as are the students who are instructed to park there by the City, and the buses they are offered are no longer free.

    And again, no one is discriminating against seniors, and you still fail to find a realistic solution to the parking problem. They can’t park in the street because then the city can’t plow, and if the city can’t plow those streets, how are the Seniors going to get to their new Center?

  9. What of the exise and property taxes I have paid over the years with no access to the same use of Public Property? This is not a form of discrimination? The problem exists only in the level of attention you are offering to it. You are descriminatory in your statements (inclusive of the Seniors) but you can only qualify your statements and absent logic with reintroducing the singular problem you see that will not hold these vehicle owners responcable for their property as the rest of the taxpayers are. I hear the simplistic denial of ‘not in my back yard’ coming forward in each of your arguments. Law takes precedent over emotional stances. The mission of the City is to act on the betterment of the whole and not the singular benefit of a few.

    Do you really want to debate the cost of busing from the ‘Island’ to the ownership and, by your admission, the cost of providing private parking in a City owned lot?

    Vehicle ownership and proper operation (inclusive of parking)is not the mission of the City to provide. Again with the new found theory of ‘When I come they will make room for me’ retoric that eats away daily at the City’s funds. How about some compassion for those who pay the bills and do not demand any extras from the City as this conversation is centered around. ‘WE’ do not own the cars mentioned. ‘WE’ do not need to address where thay will park when the Senior Center is built other than how much the City can charge to lease parking spaces to those you state will be in need of such!

  10. You have the same access to that parking lot as any other citizen in the City. You continue to refer to it as ‘private’ parking, but its a PUBLIC lot.

    Are you not discriminating against hundreds of people simply because you don’t need to park there? Unfortunately this issue isn’t about you, and those people still need a place to park in the winter. Once again you offer no realistic solution to the problem.

  11. Hi,

    Dan, you are missing a very important detail.

    The city’s zoning rules were changed to allow a no onsite parking as long as there was a public lot within 300 feet or by city approval within 500 feet.

    If you made the argument you are making now at that time it would be certainly appropriate. I expect at the time this happened (i kind of remember this but i was still pretty young when it happened) there was little concern about it since people were starting to fix up houses and sell them and profits were more important than future needs.

    But since the zoning was changed and these houses were allowed under the rules then the city has an obligation to the owners. They do have an expressed right to park there since the city allowed them to purchase a house based on that.

    I don’t know how many of the people that park there are in this situation though versus long-term parking of spare cars, trailers. Any certainly this is only for the converted single families.

    Any grandfathered building with no parking or having more cars than you have parking spots certainly don’t have any rights.

    In general i agree with you except for that detail.

    The house next to me (south end) is an old 4 family apartment that was recently turned into a 4 unit condo. with not one parking space. When I bought my house I made sure it had parking.


  12. That’s a long stretch of your imagination to relate my discrimination to a claim of not needing to use a public lot thereby it is some how my fault they will lose the free use of the same!

    I beg to differ that I do not have the same use of this public lot as the rest of the people according to your own statements. “Where are these people supposed to park their cars during snow storms? ” “That lot is 100% full during EVERY snow emergency, so obviously there is a need for it”. Access to this area, by your own suggestion, has the available use of the State ‘Park and Ride’ on Story Ave during emergencies too. How about the use of the State Park also?

    Where is the ‘obvious(ly)’ in your statement? This is not so readily obvious because the absence of use of the lot has yet to be tried. Lets see if one will chance a ticket and tow cost when this lot is unavailable. Then there may be an obvious concern because all other areas do get ticketed and towed during emergencies due to laws the rest of us need to ‘obviously’ observe. Not so ‘obvious’ to the rest of us, so you assume there is a need just because it is there and this has been allowed. The City did not assume liability of providing parking only because these people purchased or rented a property sans a parking space. A temporary fix was the purchase of an available (and then unused) plot with the tax money paid from us all. A firehouse and a School were the first public uses of surrounding lots. Factories and factory housing was the need of the day when that area was first developed. There was no need for ‘parking’ and there is no public emergency’ now due to the fact that the lot ‘IS’ public property and subject to ‘public’ use needs.

    I have offered several viable solutions to the personified and much magnified and maligned problem YOU present. Just because you disagree you dismiss them in their entirety. Simple solutions are the best. ‘Realistic’, please, read what you are writing.

    Buy property to house your own vehicles and toys.
    Purchase the lot and condo the spaces for general use.
    Buy up houses and tear down the homes to provide for your needs, privately.

    Do not put the burden of your assumption of infinite and continued public use of this property or any taxpayer property on rest of the taxpayers while asserting that the Seniors go another 20 years looking for a center to use for their own needs.

  13. Dan, you’ve offered no solution to the problem that already exists. Buying property to house your own vehicles is a great way to proceed in the future, but not a solution to the current problem. Again, what do you suggest these people do, what is a realistic and practical solution? Until you can offer that, you sound like a bitter old man who wants a Senior Center at the expense of all else.

  14. Sorry you don’t see the rights of all over the service to a few. I’m not bitter and you refuse to see any point except your own. There will never be closure on this issue for you due to your lack of knowledge or fair play on these issues. The future is now. This issue is closed for me.Automobiles are ‘private property’ as defined by the State of Massachusetts and are not related to the issue. I will be at the Grand Opening of the Newburyport Senior Center, congratulating Rosanne and the Seniors for their patience and endeavors in gaining at least one (for now) building for their programs. Lets hope the neighborhoods pony-up their fair share in past assumed and ‘obvious’ parking fees to help out the elderly in their quest to build on this lot. Ciao’ LoL

  15. SDS,
    In your reference there is no mention of a written specification that the stated property is the only site to be made available. As stated, the Green Street Lot is also available, along with the Mayors offer of Cashman park, etc. (should require a cost to cover the maintenance of an area) which Zoning does not ‘promise’ parking as a rule and the wording in the agreement (only to make such available as can be delivered in agreements with private property owners, at a cost to the residents) would be transferable to many other forms of compliance. What is a reasonable number of automobiles at each residence, for example and who monitors this? What fine schedules / ordinances or rules have been set? None, because of a very loose agreement that is unenforceable at best. Reasonable persons can assume that ownership of an automobile is a personal choice and is calculated and taxed as a choice not a right. Someone living in a house with no land has no right to own several vehicles and expect the taxpayers to assume a burden to supply parking and storage for the same. Even with that said, some parking will be available after the Senior Center is built and I can only hope these spots are given in a lottery and at a minimal cost to those who apply for such emergency only parking.

  16. Dan,

    It’s not an issue of people buying ‘toys’, etc, etc. It’s an issue of parking and making the city a better place for *everyone*, not just the seniors.

    If you really lived on Orange Street you understand how miserable the winter parking can become. I use the word ‘if’ because I don’t know of anyone in that neighborhood who wouldn’t have sold a kidney in order to obtain parking nearby.

    I mean, seriously; we all want people to live here but we’re going to punish them for owning cars? You seem to have a blame the victim mentality.

    We need to face it: Newburyport was designed and built for people who worked in-town. That’s no longer practical for a variety of reasons (how could anyone pay a Newburyport-sized mortage with t-shirt shop wages?) and now we need cars. We also need a place to park the cars.

    Settle down, Francis.

  17. jeffy,

    You managed to answer your own questions, just listen to your facts and not your emotions.

    I lived in a duplex (owned by my Polish In-laws that my wife grew up in when she attended local schools and then walked to work locally) and made an agreement with the neighbor to share access between the buildings alley for access to my back yard (gave up something for parking, a yard and not a kidney as you state). As my family grew and jobs demanded two automobiles and my construction equipment, plus the in-laws automobile, we made the decision to sell and move to a larger family property. So your ‘if’ is unassuming and uncalled for. Check with Doctor Danus who demanded all the street parking during ‘business hours’ at his office, then moved on to High Road and more land mass property also (to house his Bently).

    ‘Everyone’ includes me and others and I do not see where this lot is making the City a better place for the rest of us.

    Seriously, who gets to decide who lives here or not? not me. Then there is the statement of ‘wanting people to live here’? Where is the ‘punishment ‘ you mentioned? Are these people paying more than any other automobile owner? Or is it less? Then by that logic all ‘other’ automobile owners are being ‘punished’ for supplying their own parking!

    If ‘we need cars’ then that is a personal choice. Job far away? Move closer. Can’t afford to move closer, then stay and work local. Choices are abundant.

    So why is it that others are treated differently? Why is it that discriminating against Seniors and other neighborhoods and their needs is acceptable to serving automobile owners in one specific local? Don’t like not having a parking space? Fix it! Buy elsewhere(or rent elsewhere)I see lots of homes for sale with driveways.
    Count the ‘Toys’ and commercial vehicles that take advantage of that ‘free space’. But remember what was stated earlier, there will still be spaces available after the Senior Center is built. I think they should become ‘income’ for the cash strapped City! Same amount in extra $$ I need to purchase to store my vehicles because the ‘City’ would not offer to buy land for all the residents all over the City that are in the same need as the area surrounding the ‘New Senior Center’. This City would be a better place if more people actually paid their own way and stopped expecting the City to solve their problems at the expense of all others. Try giving back a little in exchange for what has been given out for many years and things might get done that much quicker and smoother.

    I remember when it was our job as a family to keep the sidewalk clean and the gutter free of debris, now it is ‘someone’ else’s problem with the same ‘not me’ attitude that sharing this lot has brought forward from our (and I use the term VERY loosely) COMMUNITY! Look at the community spirit that comes forth when it is mentioned that the Seniors may need to share the property. Is this the same community spirit that was shown when the lot was purchased with all our money? So now everybody is suppose to agree with the greed and possessiveness being shown?

    When Karp and company build their Hotel and Casino your mentioned ‘T’-shirt income may meet new levels of income gains while being able to afford to park in one of his lots. Until then, the Senior Center continues to get my vote and I do not see the savings in subsidizing artificially low incomes or private automobiles. If one is employed in the T-shirt industry in downtown Newburyport and cannot afford either a parking spot nor a mortgage, then they don’t ‘need’ a car and must pay rent. Neither situation becomes the taxpayers concern, does it?

  18. Dan, you seem to be ignorant of the fact that it is a public lot, open to everyone, no different than the green street lot, for example. why don’t you demand the senior center be built there?

  19. I would, if there was movement to place it there, as I am not a fan of what the Chamber has done to the downtown with their whining also.! I have mentioned a zillion times that this property IS public,open to all (inclusive of the Senior Center Proposal). So where is the demeaning attatude comming from. Run out of logic?
    someone has a differing opinion and suddenly they are ‘ignorant’ in your view?
    You exibit the same give me attatitude that we have been fighting for years here. ‘One for me and none for all’.
    how about you come up with some real solutions for a change besides claiming property that belongs to us all? seniors don’t need to be downtown proper due th the fact that most are on limited incomes and cannot afford to shop or eat downtown. They just need a meeting and activity building that is near a mixed use area. Come up with a better plan.

  20. i believe i stated a solution, rehab the Kelly School and put the senior center there. Its closer to downtown, its right next to a park, walking distance to the YWCA, walking distance to CVS, and the city already owns it! Plus, we wouldn’t be leaving an entire neighborhood with out adequate winter parking! sounds like a win-win to me.

  21. And as stated before, not on the venue according to the mayor.
    I would then guess it is OK by you to take the parking away from another area to avoid the obvious?

    Why would Seniors want to walk to CVS or downtown? Where is the attraction? Senior will not be living at the Center, so shopping is their daytime activity? Lets offer the seniors the chance to overlook a grave yard all day? Maybe the people with Walkers and Wheel chairs would enjoy the hill at the Mall? Or maybe a roll down to Rt. one? For that matter, there is a good place at Crow Lane comming up soon {|8-)

  22. Why would they want to walk downtown? maybe to enjoy the boardwalk? maybe to go to library? Overlook a grave yard? are you serious? Is it preferable to overlook the Mall rather than a parking lot?

    Speaking of parking, what parking would we take away?

  23. Use of the Playground as emergency parking and all the local Street parking during non emergency times. (don’t you read these posts?). Kelley school does not have parking, so that would disqualify the building for Senior use?

    Better to let the seniors watch a family environment than a Grave Yard reminding them daily of where their next Real Estate purchase will be!
    I can just see the elderly making the trip from the Kelley to the Board walk! Stop traffic downtown for 15 minutes each crossing? Especially High Street!!!

  24. It has on street parking, since teachers and staff were able to park there for years. Also, the number of seniors who would drive to the center rather than be bussed is probably pretty low. finally, since it is no longer a school, the playground could be converted to extra parking if needed.

    As an advocate for seniors you sure are quick to mock them.

  25. Who said I was an advocate for seniors? I am advocating the issue of giving them a place to meet and call home, but will probably never see the insides of the new building due to choice. I am not the type to enjoin in group therapy for companionship. If you consider the previous posts as ‘mocking’ then you have so much to learn about me…

    Again I suggest you re read your posts, the playground does not belong to the school, never did and never will. The building use value in reference to the type of use of an approved ADA structure is less than pleasing and would take a total rebuild to bring into partial compliance. The utilities are under rated for the use type and in as horrible shape as the base structure. The front door is inaccessible and does not meet present code. It would need the same modifications we did to Shitty Hall to meet any guidelines for even a loan value grant. It would take twice as much money and time (most Seniors have little of both left) than new construction at Cushing ‘Par-kin lot’.

    Teachers and Staff parked (or clogged ) the artery of Green leaf Street while working at the School. Another dangerous situation relieved by he closing of the school. Now Fire truck(s)can pass the area with out running opposing traffic off the roads.
    Still the best choice for locating Seniors is Cushing Park.

  26. I wonder if the Senior Center ends up going there whether Washington St along the park side can be changed/ re-purposed into a parking lot? If some of the grass margins were removed and the street merged into the current park could we create enough new parking and have the Senior Center there? Why frame it as either/or?
    Why not do something win-win?

  27. Ron, I believe that is the effort needed to make all citizens happy, a little common sense thinking. But we will hear from the grass lovers here. People will comment on the need for some City Grass for their dogs to shat upon rather than their own property. If local parking is to be subsidized by the taxpayers city wide, then the cost will be grass and open space. I think your comment is Win-Win.

  28. For the record, COA Director Roseann Robillard already made clear that she does not want a senior center located downtown because of congestion issues. She said the seniors do not need to be smack-dab next to the post office, CVS, etc. This was discussed at last month’s City Council Planning & Development Committee meeting, which I reported here.

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