On November 4, 2015, the City of Newburyport hosted a regional grant award ceremony by the MassWorks Infrastructure Program administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development (EOHED) in the MBTA parking lot located at One Boston Way. Officials from EOHED specifically requested to have this award ceremony within the City’s new 40R “Smart Growth” District adjacent to the MBTA Commuter Rail Station.
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito presented MassWorks awards to Newburyport’s Mayor Donna D. Holaday and the communities of Amesbury, Haverhill, Methuen, and Dracut. Newburyport’s recent application for infrastructure funding was awarded by MassWorks in large part due to the City’s recent adoption of a Smart Growth District that will target new housing growth adjacent to public transportation and existing infrastructure. On July 9, 2015 Lt. Governor Polito and Mayor Holaday signed a Commonwealth Community Compact agreement signifying a commitment to partnership between state and local officials to work together toward common objectives. The City of Newburyport and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts share a common vision for sustainable development patterns that reduce dependence on the automobile and associated “sprawl” development patterns.
Sprawl - a term often used by urban planners - defines irresponsible low density development patterns that are auto-dependent, destroy green space, overextend infrastructure, increase traffic and air pollution, unnecessarily segregate land uses, reduce transportation and housing choices, and threatens a community's cohesiveness and sense of place.
Alternatively, Smart Growth defines development patterns that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Smart Growth development calls for a return to more historic development patterns, focusing growth in existing city centers, near transit and existing infrastructure. By focusing growth in areas equipped to support it, the region helps preserve both environmental and financial resources that would be lost to sprawling, low-density development. Public health and housing choices are also improved.
The City’s MassWorks grant will be used primarily for upgrades to the City’s Graf Road Lift Station which pumps wastewater from a large portion of the City (including the new 40R District) over the hill to the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Water Street. Although the Lift Station was scheduled for upgrade next year regardless of the 40R District the upgrades will support redevelopment within the 40R District and adjacent Newburyport Business & Industry Park which supports the City’s tax base. The $2 Million MassWorks grant will substantially reduce the City’s cost for upgrading the Graf Road Lift Station, which is already at capacity and requires several safety improvements. Design for the new facility is already underway with construction expected to begin in 2016. A small portion of MassWorks funds will be used to extend a sidewalk from the MBTA Commuter Rail Station (40R District) into the Newburyport Business & Industry Park with a new bus stop shelter. The juxtaposition of the new 40R District with the Business & Industry Park, along with the Lift Station upgrade, will ensure Newburyport’s economic vitality in the coming years as businesses thrive and new housing opportunities are made available in close proximity. The new 40R District Ordinance comes after a decade’s worth of local planning efforts, provides that 25% of all new housing will be designated affordable and includes site and building design standards to ensure high quality redevelopment of underutilized properties in this southernmost gateway to the City.