There will be Karp…

June 1, 2008

Yikes, I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything in nearly a month, I’ve been busy, but I didn’t think I was that busy. I suppose its been kinda slow around these parts the last few weeks as well, and in my spare time I had the opportunity to watch “There Will Be Blood” last night. First of all, it was an excellent film, and Daniel Day Lewis certainly earned his Oscar. But, following close on the heels of Mr. Karp’s announcement that he plans to aggressively pursue a hotel on the waterfront, I found one particular scene in the film quite ominous. For those of you who have scene the movie, I would venture to guess when you saw the scene of Mr. Plainview (Lewis) speaking to the citizens of Little Boston about his plans for their small town, you couldn’t help but draw a natural comparison between a fictional oilman and a living breathing land developer. I scoured the Internet for a video of that particular scene, but couldn’t find one, however, I did find a trailer which uses much of the dialogue from that scene, so it should give you a taste. Have a look and for anyone that has seen the film, what were your thoughts when compared to our own situation here in Newburyport?

“Plainview: [pitching his company to the people of Little Boston] Ladies and gentlemen? Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you so much for visiting with us this evening. Now, I’ve traveled across half our state to be here and to see about this land. Now, I daresay some of you might have heard some of the more extravagant rumors about what my plans are; I just thought you’d like to hear it from me. This is the face. There’s no great mystery. I’m an oilman, ladies and gentlemen. I have numerous concerns spread across this state. I have many wells flowing at many thousand barrels per day. I like to think of myself as an oilman. As an oilman, I hope that you’ll forgive just good old fashioned plain-speaking. Now, this work that we do is very much a family enterprise- I work side by side with my wonderful son, H.W.- I think one or two of you might have met him already. And I encourage my men to bring their families, as well. Of course it makes for an ever so much more rewarding life for them. Family means children. Children means education. So wherever we set up camp, education is a necessity, and we’re just so happy to take care of that. So let’s build a wonderful school in Little Boston. These children are the future that we strive for and so they should have the very best of things. Now something else, and please don’t be insulted if I speak about this – bread. Let’s talk about bread. Now to my mind, its an abomination to consider that any man, woman or child in this magnificent country of ours should have to look upon a loaf of bread as a luxury. We’re going to dig water wells here. Water wells means irrigation, irrigation means cultivation. We’re going to raise crops here where before it just simply was impossible. You’re going to have more grain than you’ll know what to do with. Bread will be coming right out of your ears, ma’am. New roads. Agriculture. Employment, education. These are just a few of the things we can offer you, and I assure you ladies and gentlemen, that if we do find oil here, and I think there’s a very good chance that we will, this community of yours will not only survive, it will flourish.”

seems eerily familiar to me…



  1. BRAVO!…..welcome back! I was hoping you did not just up and quit. Good review and point. Makes me want to go out and see the film.

  2. it’s a good film in it’s own right, but speaks a little louder to us right now.

  3. Interesting analogy. Why do you feel a hotel is not the right investment for Newburyport?

  4. well, i feel that the water front west is a bad idea for the city, i think it will ruin it, but as for the hotel, there isn’t much of a reason to have a hotel in Newburyport.

  5. Earlier today, I was chatting with someone who first visited Newburyport in the 1950s and next visited it in the 1990s. He was blown away by the redevelopment efforts of the ’60s and ’70s. I can only imagine he’d be floored again by comparing Waterside West today and what it could potentially look like in 10 years.

    The look and feel of the area between the Chamber of Commerce and Michael’s Harborside is a “bad idea,” as you say, and I welcome anything to gentrify it. I am neutral about constructing a hotel alone, but I strongly support Steve Karp’s plans for mixed-use development, encompassing shops, offices, and housing along with a hotel.

  6. You welcome anything that will gentrify it? seriously? I’d take a working waterfront with boatyards and docks over another starbucks or a GAP, why would you trade in the tradition and history of Newburyport for things you can find at any mall? But i guess that is the difference between natives and newcomers.

  7. The Newburyport waterfront already has boatyards and docks, stretching from Plum Island point to Merri-Mac Yacht Basin and beyond. Why do you feel the city needs more marine infrastructure? Wouldn’t you rather see land infrastructure?

    I don’t want to see a GAP come to Newburyport any more than you, but I also don’t want to see unused and undeveloped land between the Gillis bridge and the boardwalk.

    Now that the rail-to-bike trail project is approved for construction, people will be able to board their bikes in Boston or Rockport or Worcester or anywhere the MBTA services and come to Newburyport, exit the platform, cross a street and remain on a fixed trail all the way to Cashman Park. In time, the trail will extend to the wildlife refuge. Believe you me, the bicyclists will come to shop, to eat, to spend money in Newburyport. Maybe to stay. Where can they stay? Look at the recent literary festival and how nearly all of the B&Bs were full.

    The city needs more lodging space so taxes are paid here, not in adjacent communities. The city also needs a waterfront version of the Tannery: similar shops, restaurants, and offices on the first and second and third floors, and housing above. A parking structure nearby too. And a hotel smack-dab on the waterfront so Newbury’s blue doesn’t get all the action.

  8. As an avid sailor who’s based out of Newburyport, I believe the Waterside West development will permanently damage the character of Newburyport.

    Walk down there and take a look at all the space in the boatyard. That’s *winter storage* for large private sailboats. A LOT of large private sailboats, most with no place else to go locally. Close the yard, lose the sailors (and with prices running near $140/ft for dock space Newburyport is already chasing away some boaters, and not necessarily the ones who can’t afford the price). The very character of the waterfront will change for the worse, just like it did when the Co-op left town and the fisherman could no longer land their catch here in Newburyport.

    Now Ari, we already have train service, yet I fail to see a huge influx of tourists; what makes you think that bicyclists (a distinct SUBSET of the population) are going to be the drivers for a hotel?

    And no, Newburyport doesn’t “need” a waterfront version of The Tannery (any more than we “needed” the rail trail).

  9. I agree with Carrot, we don’t need more tourists, we don’t need more shops, and there certainly is no need for a hotel. Like I mentioned before, that is the distinct difference between newcomers and natives, they want to change Newburyport into something else, and we are happy with the way it is.

  10. Sadly, Mr. X, not every native agrees with you.

  11. Sadly, Ari, you haven’t lived here long enough to speak for the natives.

    The developers and the newcomers (anyone who’s moved to Newburyport in the past ten years is a newcomer in that they’re not really aware of what’s been lost) have turned Newburyport into a tourist and up-scale theme park. Yankee Homecoming has become a Politically Correct tourist trap, the sight of real working fishing boats has become visually offensive, the city is essentially built out, and the shops downtown don’t sell anything that people actually NEED (it wasn’t that long ago when I remember being able to buy groceries on Pleasant Street, within walking distance of my then-humble abode).

    Quite frankly the city is almost a caricature of itself. Waterside West will finish the job.

  12. I must say that I also find Ari’s comment that the space between the Gillis Bridge and the boardwalk is ‘unused and undeveloped’. It’s not; it’s a *boatyard*. Boatyards tend to be open and appear like undeveloped space in the summer and in fact they need that space. For a self-proclaimed ‘policy wonk’ Ari shows a surprisingly high amount of naivety regarding local businesses.

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