Monday, August 31, 2009

Landfill updates

This was in the Aug. 28 update on the landfill, from MassDEP:

In addition to tracking the causes of odor complaints, Shaw continued to inspect the Landfill identifying and marking landfill gas and leachate breakouts first thing each morning and throughout the day. In addition, Shaw personnel observed a problem with the operation of a number of extraction wells at the landfill. They notified New Ventures, of the issue and New Ventures, under the supervision of their engineer, SITEC, is implementing measures to identify and correct the cause of the problem. Shaw personnel are monitoring these activities.

I found this very interesting. The "problem with the operation of a number of extraction wells at the landfill" obviously has been a "problem" for a while.

This is from today's update:

Today New Ventures, under the supervision of their engineer, SITEC, is conducting a repair of the landfill gas extraction system at the landfill. This repair requires in part excavation of a shallow trench in the uncapped area of the landfill. These activities are likely to cause odors. The trench will be backfilled as soon as the repair is complete today.

Obviously, some kind of environmental engineer not related to New Ventures was always needed on site.

Nobody thought that something was wrong, with all the gas that has been escaping? Nobody but the landfill neighbors, that is ...

This is really inexcusable.

On a lighter note, apparently last Thursday, Aug. 27, was a day free of odor. One of the neighbors wrote an email to all concerned thanking them for this.

Thank you for last Thursday. We had all of our windows open for 9 hours straight. It was the first time for us to do that since April. We even had lunch on the deck. It was truly amazing.

Can you imagine living like that? Thanking all and sundry for ONE day without a nauseating stench in your home?

I remember, way back in July it was, Mayor Moak saying that the work causing the stink would all be done "in a couple of weeks."

I'm not necessarily blaming him; obviously he has no control over New Ventures.

Charter review update

Are you guys interested in Charter Commission people? Tough.

I got the newest list here in front of me and I'm re-typing in every name and indicating with an (*) that they returned papers to the Clerk's Office (as of about noon today, Aug. 31).

So here goes (it's in the order of when they pulled nomination papers):
  1. Paul M. Bevilacqua*
  2. David R. Clarridge*
  3. Steven P. Cole
  4. Roger A. Gagnon
  5. Judith C. Grohe
  6. Gregory M. Kelly
  7. JoAn Kincaid*
  8. Douglas A. Locy*
  9. Thomas Tolman Lyons*
  10. Olga S. MacFarlane*
  11. Janet K. Marcus
  12. Bruce M. Menin
  13. Cynthia S. Muir*
  14. Sheila A. Mullins*
  15. Bonnie P. Perkins
  16. Thomas L. Salemi
  17. James A. Stiles*
  18. Bruce L. Vogel
  19. Alexander Z. Warren*
  20. Kenneth A. Woods
  21. Kathleen E. Bailey*

So 21 people; 11 have returned papers and one pulled papers but has withdrawn. That would be Julia B. Godtfredsen. She pulled papers on Aug. 18 and withdrew Aug. 25.

I could make some wild, random speculation here - but I won't.

Public service message

Mayor John F. Moak, as chairman of the School Committee, is seeking individuals to serve on the Newburyport Schools Superintendent Search Committee.

Applications will be accepted until Sept. 9, 2009. Selection of the committee will be completed by late September. The goal is to submit to the full School Committee final candidates for the position of Superintendent of Schools.

The mayor is seeking those interested in applying for the search committee from the following groups: parent representing the high school education program, parent representing the middle school education program, parent representing the elementary school education program and members of the community-at-large.

The committee will include: three members of the School Committee, two school principals, one representative from the Superintendent's Office, three teachers, three parents and two residents-at-large.

The initial meeting of the committee will be in early October. Attraction and retention will be discussed as well as planning the schedule for the committee. The School Committee will contract with a recruitment specialist to manage the selection process.

Applicants can submit letters of intent and resumes (not exceeding two pages) to: Office of the Mayor, 60 Pleasant St., Newburyport, MA 01950 or at Those applying via email should put in the subject line "Superintendent Search Committee."

I know, I gave them a "freebee"

I explain all this stuff about the beach not only to keep you guys informed but I know that now that Victor Tine is back from vacation, he will get it straight.

And the editorial is correct about the bureauocracy, but there are also too many people with their hands in this project, as far as I am concerned.

Ron Barrett, PITA president, asked at the meeting of the Alliance if DCR couldn't just have shot the Army Corps a fax or email of the easement documents - just to make sure the Corps was on board with the everything.

On the flip side, the Corps only decided the week the letters went out that they had a problem with the language. But that's the federal government.

The deadline to have a project "shovel ready" and able to receive stimulus funds is Oct. 1, I believe. That is why the Oct. 1 deadline is so important.

It will take the Corps 3 months to send out bids and hire the company that will do the construction.

I'm sorry to keep harping but good grief!

My sister, who every year with her husband goes down to the Outer Banks, continues to be sort of offended that the erosion there gets so much less press and attention that does the situation here.

It's all a Band-Aid, anyway. The dredging is probably a good idea, because that's what needs to be done to keep the channel open. The beach nourishment is the icing on the cake.

The dredging can go forward without the nourishment, you know. I think that bit was edited out of my piece.

Oh, Daily News

I have been kind of laying off criticizing the DN recently, but honestly, the story and Opinion on Friday about the beach project contain so much misinformation, I can't help myself.

I can't find Lynne Hendricks' story from last week on the website so I can't link to it. She wasn't not at the last meeting of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance and it almost appears as if she was relying on this blog - and a kind of red-faced Army Corps of Engineers - for information.

I have a timeline for the project right here in front of me. It clearly indicates that construction has ALWAYS been scheduled to begin in January. Oct. 1 is the deadline to get all permitting in place so bids can be sent out for the work.

The point was, construction may not have taken place at all, not that it had been delayed. I don't see my story on the Current's website, so I can't link to that, either. What's with these news organizations?

I write "may not" because someone has given me a copy of an email sent out on Friday by lobbyist Howard Marlowe's office saying that the Army Corps of Engineers has given DCR the go-ahead on the easements.

There's also something about a no-jeopardy statement on the piping plover but that's not as clear.

There still also needs to be a partnership agreement approved between the Army Corps and DCR.

"While there still exist potential hang-ups with the PPA, we hear that Senators Tarr and Baddour, as well as Representative Costello and Stanley, have all been involved in behind-the-scenes conversations to assure efficiency," writes Brendan McGonigle (from Marlow & Company).

He goes on to say, "I would contend that the project is in a much more favorable position than public opinion seems to suggest. It is clear to me that all players are back at the table and ready to navigate this effort toward fruition."

And that's the latest, as I know it.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I just received an email about my last post, expressing the sentiment that there is nothing funny about the situation in which the landfill neighbors find themselves.

I heartily agree with that sentiment, and I explained to the sender that I was being sarcastic.

For one, in my (should be well-known) opinion, FoxNews is garbage and for two, I thought the last line about the whole thing being (not) definitive made it clear I thought it was rubbish.

And for three, it just goes to show how a "study" can be taken seriously just because it was published in a journal. I used to be the managing editor of a clinical journal, and I can tell you a study with that small and narrow a study group would never have appeared on its pages.

In any case, I apologize to anyone who took offense and/or thought I was saying the neighbors have nothing to complain about. It was certainly not meant that way.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What're they complaining about again?

As always, FoxNews has the answer (March 3, 2009):

The New Vi-eggra? Rotten Egg Smell Has Viagra-Like Effect on Men, Study Finds

The smell of rotting eggs has a Viagra-like effect on men, and the bizarre finding could help doctors develop a more effective version of the popular sex drug, according to a study.

The gas that gives rotten eggs their pungent smell is hydrogen sulphide. Scientists say it also is released from car exhausts and from men just before they have sex, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tiny amounts of the gas are released by nerve cells in a man's private part to prepare it for intercourse, a study found.

The gas causes muscle cells in the region to relax, boosting blood flow, and leading to a better erection.

Researchers, from the University of Naples in Italy, made the finding in a study of eight men who had sex-change operations.

Viagra, on the other hand, harnesses a different chemical — nitric oxide — to give users a boost. But one-third of men have found the drug ineffective.

Researchers hope the finding will lead to new drugs to treat erectile dysfunction.

Click here to read more on this story from The Sun.

Yep - 8 men in Italy who had sex-change operations. Now that's what I call definitive.

More landfill photos

I wasn't going to say anything, but ...
Just kidding; of course I have comments.
OK, so that broken down fencing and those rotting bales of straw (or whatever it is) are on city property. Not to mention I am told there is supposed to be a double stack of the bales.
Isn't the site just so well maintained?
And there were pools of water everywhere from yesterday's rain, during which I imagine the water was running fast and furious down that final membrane layer, or FML as they call it. You know, the one that's supposed to be covered with sand and top soil to prevent just such an occurrence.
I got a little tour of the whole area, including the wetlands around the property and the little stream that flows into the Little River.
And I didn't take a photo of it specifically (but you can see it in the first photo), but where the retaining pool is supposed to be, there is a big pile of dirt.
Hey, I wish I could get away with ... oh, wait, I said that already. Never mind.

My morning at the landfill

What a way to spend a Sunday morning.
At about 9:30 I was at the landfill doing ... something secret.

Nah, I was just there for reference purposes.

And I have to tell you - it comes in waves, but it stinks. It really, really smells bad. Not that I ever doubted it, but it's one of those things you really have to experience to make you glad you didn't eat before you got there.

Furthermore, here are photos showing construction debris left uncovered after Friday's work day. According to DEP, all the debris is supposed to be covered with a layer of dirt at the end of every day.
Does that stuff look like C&D "fines" to you?

And according to city officials, that space there in the first photo, where the haul road used to be, was supposed to have been filled in about - oh, a month ago.
I wish I could get away with holding both the state and a whole city hostage. Then again - I haven't given it a shot.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Congratulations are in order

Before I forget (again), congratulations to Tom and Nicole Salemi on the arrival this morning of their second son, Zepherin "Zeph" Michael Salemi.

Zeph arrived at 8:39 a.m. and weighed 7lbs 4oz.

Welcome to the world, Zeph! I love that name.

Landfill: one day of reprieve a distant memory

Well that day back there when I said there had been no complains about the landfill has faded into dusky memory.

Ron Klodenski reports today that the period July 1 to today has seen the most complaints about landfill odor since 2006.

The period in 2006 coincided with DEP announcing it had issued a preliminary injunction to get the landfill under control and closed.

That apparently went really well ...

Landfill neighbor Alida Frey has a letter to the editor in today's Daily News.

The only political person I see, besides the mayor and Ward 5 city councillor Brian Derrivan, who is publicly weighing in on all this is Donna Holaday. And I haven't seen an update from Derrivan in a while.

Holaday, of course, is running for mayor.

And speaking of updates - apparently the media (or me, at least) - has been cut from the DEP's list of recipients for its daily updates about the landfill. The last one I received is dated Aug. 11, but I understand there have been updates since then.

Maybe Derrivan has been sending updates all along as well but chop-chop. The mayor smiled and said "hi" to me today at the beach alliance meeting, but that don't mean he likes me. Although, you know, I've actually been very kind to him in many ways.

Anyway ... the DEP updates are on its website - or are supposed to be, at any rate - so I don't know what the deal is.

Beach project vs. piping plover

So much (bad) stuff was reported at this morning's meeting of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance that I don't know where to begin.

First, those necessary easement docs went out yesterday to 56 or so property owners in Newbury and Salisbury at just about the same time that the Army Corps of Engineers was deciding that they had problems with the basic document.

Second, the state and thus U.S. Fisheries & Wildlife has a problem with part of the Newbury beach being messed with - and it has to do with a certain little bird. The part of the beach in question is where vehicles enter the beach (a part where the dune was bulldozed by a resident, years back and the dune was re-built) across from 26th St., where 27th St. should be but isn't.

Ya gotta love Plum Island. This is all somebody's back yard. Apparently the state - Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, to be specific - believes that although the plovers haven't nested there for 25 years or so, that doesn't mean they wouldn't, if given the opportunity.

And Fisheries & Wildlife isn't going along until Natural Heritage does.

But back to point one: You'd think that easements would not have been mailed out w/out the implicit "go-ahead" by the Corps of Engineers and/or the Corps would not be giving the "go-ahead" and then doing a turn-around, but hey.

The federal government wants DCR to be explicity the entity in charge of the beach after the project is complete, in case Newbury cannot keep it up. The easements as written are between the property owners and the Town of Newbury.

The feds also want the residents to sign off on all those decks, stairways and whatnots that are hanging over the dune being possibly destroyed in the course of the project.

All of everything that needs to be done - permits, easements and whatever DEP comes up with (no one from DEP was there today) - has to be done by Oct. 1 or the project won't be done by March 14.

Why March 14?

Because that's around when that certain little bird arrives on the beach to nest.

And this is not even to mention the $75,000-$80,000 our mayor said it would cost the city to maybe halt the erosion around 56th St., in Newburyport, with sand trucked in from somewhere else. That's with a state match.

My head hurts.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I do need a paying job

Someone just pointed out to me this listing on Craig's List:



Location: Newburyport, Ma
Compensation: $8.00/ HR

The phone # is the complaint line for the landfill ... so is it same to assume they are looking for workers at the landfill?

Should I apply?

More from Ed Cameron: Towle project

So someone told me that she Googled "Towle and Newburyport" and the blog came up on the first page. How's that for ... what is that?

Anyway, I just did it myself and Tom's blog came up first (as in, #1 result) so ... I guess Google puts its own blogs at or near the top, most recent/popular first. Humpf

That's not the part from Ed Cameron but this is:

After discussion with Mayor Moak, Council President and Ward 3 Councillor Shanley, and Planning Director Sean Sullivan, I am going to place the Towle project on the Council's Planning & Development Committee agenda for the scheduled Thursday, August 27th meeting, which starts at 6pm at City Hall.

The other main agenda item that night is the small wind turbine issue.The Towle project resulted from negotiations between the developer, the City, the City Council, the Planning Board, and neighbors. The current state of inactivity and now the "for sale" status has caused justifiable concern from the neighborhood.

Planning staff will attend this meeting and will be prepared to discuss the approvals that have been granted for this project. Those approvals (special permit and site review) would hold for a new owner. Also Planning staff can outline the permitting process that would be required if there are proposed project modifications in the future.

If you have any specific questions that pertain to the Towle project, questions should be submitted to me or Planning Director Sean Sullivan in advance of the 8/27 meeting so that research can be done and a specific answer prepared. Sean's email is I can be reached via

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Upcoming meetings

Ed Cameron is the only city councillor I know who lets me know about committee meetings. Gee, I hope he gets re-elected.

What's that?


Anyway - Thanks, Ed!

The following three Planning and Development Committee meetings have been scheduled and have also been posted as Committee of the Whole so other Councillors can attend.

Thursday, August 20th at 7pm to discuss NRA appointment (Council Chamber, City Hall)

Wednesday, August 26th at 6pm to discuss Parks and Rec regulations, Wind Energy ordinance, and other matters (Auditorium, City Hall)

Thursday, August 27th at 6pm to discuss 'small wind' turbine with Mass Audubon (Council Chamber, City Hall) The meetings are open to the public.

And don't forget about that Republican picnic coming up. Who knows? I may show up ...

"It's sick, the price of medicine ..." - The Psychedelic Furs

Damn; I'm in a good mood tonight.

Holy stinkbomb, Batman!

I do believe there was not one complaint from a landfill neighbor today ... er, yesterday, Tuesday.

Checking ...

Hard to tell, with all those Facebook messages cluttering up my inbox, but I do believe - yes, no complaints!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hello again

You know? I don't know about this doggie park idea.

I know a couple of years ago, there were 2 women running around trying to drum up support for a doggie park but I never heard any more about it. They wanted to use that space by the Towle Bldg. ... lol.

Anyway, my feeling - like that of the DN commenter Land_Shark (who sounds suspiciously like Bubba) - is that if you don't have the space to provide for a dog, you should either move to a bigger space or not own a dog. It's cruel.

Nobody gives me jack shit for my cat, the little monster, and I don't expect anyone to do so. Why should a dog be any different?

And that brings me to festivals and such in town, and people who bring their dogs with them. What the ....? The dogs are barking at each other, getting into small (or large) skirmishes while their owners bleat, "No, [insert name of dog here], NO!"

I also sort of object to people bringing their small children everywhere - what happened to baby sitters? - but that's not going to get me anywhere good.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blah blah and a yada

I was reading Tom's blog post about the senior center and this week I encountered a similar situation with grants, state matches and all that good stuff.

I did a story for the Current about the sewer plant and this "green energy grant" the upgrade project got from the state through the stimulus bill.

First of all, as DPS Director Brendan O'Regan pointed out, it's not a grant. It's forgiveness on loan principal.

But here's the catch: you had to have something(s) in the project that is green.

So they stuck in a bubbling aeration system that costs $800,000 more than replacing what's there. That's good; still "saving" the ratepayers some $2 mil in loan principal, right?

Then someone had the bright idea of putting a photovoltaic/solar array on the new building.

There goes another $500,000 or so.

That brings this "grant" down to helping out the ratepayers to the tune of $1.5 mil, in a $26 mil project. And apparently they are still thinking up stuff to stick on there, now that they got this money that isn't really money.

This reminds me of the "buy 3, get one free" specials at the market. You don't really need 3, but the lure of getting one free is just too great.

I have to give credit to Brendan, though: one, he called me back from vacation in Hawaii and two, he was very upfront about the misconceptions that were put out there earlier in the week, including the fact that the "grant" was $3.05 mil, not $3.5 mil, as was reported in the paper.

Unless they were counting alleged rebates for the PV system. Who the hell knows? It's not so much about the reporting - it's what people said to the reporter.

So back to the senior citizens center: nothing is free. Not anymore.

Taking a break

I should have said before that I was taking a break from blogging.

Sometimes it just gets to you and all that stuff Tom Salemi said on his blog.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beach Alliance meeting postponed

Friday’s MRBA meeting has been rescheduled to 11 a.m. Friday, August 21.

Same location - PITA Hall.

I guess I shouldn't have demanded they all bring presents.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NRA appointee

I really thought last night that when Ed Cameron moved to remove John Morris' appointment from the agenda that he was going to ask that it be approved in one reading.

But no - Cameron was proposing that the appointment go to committee(s), including a Committee-of-the-Whole, so that the candidate is "fully vetted."

Oddly enough, of all the stuff I've written on here, the post about the movie relating to past actions of Mr. Morris generated I believe the most private responses.

I've had phone calls, emails ... well, one of each. And not surprisingly, the 2 people are directly opposed in their opinions of this man. Neither of them is related in any way to any sitting city councillors.

I've also heard from people who are, though.

And I'm not backing off my contention that building a TWO-STORY garage that blocks your neighbors' view of the river (or anything else) is inconsiderate and whatever else I said before. That's what I believe - and I would not do it - so why would I say or write anything else?

So that is all I am going to say, until another person comes along to support either or both positions by the two people I think of as "impartial."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blah blah blah

So here is the story from the Daily News about the NRA appointee.

Here's my view about him building - whatever - that blocks the view of the river from his neighbors.

Did anyone see the movie "Friends With Money?"

In that movie, one of the characters and her husband are adding a second floor onto their house, which is somewhere in the hills of California. She's all gung-ho about it because they'll have a bedroom with a view - until the neighbors start giving her the cold shoulder.

When she confronts one of them, the woman points to the addition and says something like, "What? Did you think we would be able to see through it?"

I'm kind of surprised that someone who grew up here would be so insensitive, seeing as how the city (meaning natives) strikes me as being very supportive of its own.

He had the right to do it, I don't dispute that (being not privvy to all the circumstances), but what does it say about him as a neighbor and a member of a community?

Me, me ... and me again.

Small reflections

Well, well, well ... it appears that the mayor thinks the capping of the landfill is going well.

Or he regrets not issuing the administrative order last year ... or something. Read all about it here.

The mayor, it says, "took some time last week to share some reflections as he heads into his final fall in office."

Apparently his reflections only require a small entry in the City Notebook column.

It's in the books, maybe

This is from the city's Code of Ordinances. Seems like it applies to lots of stuff, including CVS expansions, turbines ... landfills (don't hold your breath).


XV-B Purposes.

To implement goals, strategies, and actions recommended in the 2001 Master Plan for Land Use, Housing, Natural and Cultural Resources, and Transportation and Circulation, and to otherwise protect and enhance residents' quality of life, these regulations address:

a. Community character: To protect the city's distinct community character and historic and scenic qualities. To revitalize targeted areas for reinvestment and new economic development as well as protect existing investments and property values of the city. To provide for smooth transition between industrial, commercial, and residential areas, to preserve the character of individual city neighborhoods, and to reinforce natural topography by controlling features of development.

b. Traffic, parking, and public access: To promote roadway traffic safety and traffic calming, and to protect the capability of state and local roads to conduct vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic smoothly, safely, and efficiently. To minimize or prevent adverse impacts to neighborhood character from excessive traffic or on-street parking. To encourage alternatives to single-occupant vehicle travel. To encourage pedestrian access to scenic, historic, recreational, and natural areas.

c. Health: To minimize or prevent adverse impacts in air quality, light and glare, and noise. (my emphasis)

d. Public services and utilities: To minimize or prevent adverse impacts to existing public services and facilities, including sewers, storm drains, solid waste disposal systems, parks, schools, streets, and services. To promote energy conservation when feasible.

e. Land use planning: To ensure that proposed uses are reasonably compatible with surrounding uses and are consistent with city zoning and master plan goals. To discourage unlimited commercial "strip development" and curb cuts along highways, to provide for commercial development that is sensitive to Newburyport's distinct community character and diverse but consistent architectural framework, and to provide for industrial growth in nodes and clusters.

f. Open space and environmental protection: To preserve open space, public access, and scenic views to the Merrimack River, and for the protection of natural features and other environmentally sensitive areas. To prevent against erosion and adverse drainage impacts. To minimize the loss of wildlife habitat and other vegetation which have substantial aesthetic, educational, ecological, and/or economic value.

(Ord. of 10-28-02(3))

XV-C Applicability.

Major and minor projects: site plan review shall be required for any structure intended for residential use which includes five (5) or more residential units on one property and for any and all other new nonresidential uses or structure(s) including, but not limited to, industrial/infrastructure, marine, business or institutional/government/medical use(s).

The following criteria shall be used to determine whether the proposed project is reviewed as a major or minor project.

a. Major projects: Within a two-year period after the date of the most recent application for a building permit for any portion of the property, any project which consists of changing the outside appearance of a building and/or includes one or more of the following is considered a major project subject to site plan approval from the planning board: (my emphasis)

1. Construction of one thousand (1,000) or more square feet of gross floor area;
2. Exterior remodeling or renovation of an existing structure that exceeds twenty-five (25) percent of the existing gross floor area;
3. Construction of a drive-through facility;
4. Construction of ten (10) or more new or additional parking or loading spaces;

b. Minor projects: Any project not included within the definition of a major project which involves one or both of the following is considered a minor project subject to site plan review by the planning board.

1. Alterations, expansions, additions, or renovations that are less than five thousand (5,000) square feet gross floor area on any properties located within the "I-1" or "I-1B" industrial zoning districts that do not abut a residential zoning district.
2. Construction of less than ten (10) off-street parking or loading spaces.

(Ord. of 10-28-02(3))

I don't think site plan review is a weapon but it could give activists another venue for protest. Not that I'm advocating protest.

I'm not sure what this means

This morning, someone sent me a memo from Newburyport Development about parking for tenants of one of its properties on the waterfront (after the Waterfront Trust begins charging for its spaces).

It almost sounds as if ND has made some kind of deal with the city/the Redevelopment Authority to allow its tenants to park for free in the NRA lots on days when the rest of us have to pay (Fridays, weekends and during Yankee Homecoming).

We encourage you to continue to use the municipal parking lots that are free just beyond this area and on the other side of Market Landing Park. Understanding that the city does charge on Fridays during the summer and during Yankee Homecoming, the parking attendant has agreed to allow cars to park at no charge if they enter the parking lots either before 8:00 am (for the west lot) and 9:00 am (for the east lot).

Oh, so the NRA lots are "municipal parking lots" now? I'm not being snotty; I really want to know. Because on the east lot, there's this huge sign telling everyone that the lot is owned by the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority (which admittedly is a quasi-governmental entity) and the NRA keeps the revenue generated from the parking fees.

Did employees in City Hall get a similar communication, I wonder? And isn't there some kind of an ordinance to the effect that businesses more than 500 feet or something from a municipal lot have to provide their own parking?

I was looking this up when I got distracted by something else ... next post, peeps.

And the "parking attendant?" Is that the company that the NRA contracts to collect the parking fees ...? Nowhere in the whole thing are the words "Redevelopment Authority."

The memo goes on to say that parking by tenants in front of Newburyport Lighting and the Chamber of Commerce is verboten as those spaces are for customers.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I'll bring more nuts!

I can think of only a few things I'd enjoy less than attending a picnic with a bunch of folks railing against health care reform, but just in case spending time with a bunch of wingnuts is your thing, I'm passing along a message from my friend Larry Giunta:

Charlie Baker Attending West Newbury Picnic

Charlie Baker (R-Swampscott) has confirmed he will be attending the West Newbury Picnic on August 20th.

Also, Dr. Gerry Dembowski (R- Woburn) will be in attendance.(Dr. Dembowski is a candidate for Governor, he has been running under the media's radar)

With the addition of Charlie and the good Doctor we will have all three candidates for Governor in attendance.

This should be a good time.

Just messing with ya, Larry.

Landfill update from yesterday, from DEP

Crow Lane Landfill Update - August 7, 2009

1. New Ventures has committed to accelerate installation of the remaining portions of the landfill gas collection system and, along with MassDEP and Shaw, is exploring system adjustments to improve gas collection operation and efficiency.

2. MassDEP staff was at the landfill for most of the day yesterday, August 6. MassDEP participated with Shaw in sampling landfill gas from several gas extraction wells, and at the landfill gas pretreatment system and flare. The purpose of this sampling was to understand current gas conditions at the landfill and to ensure that the pretreatment system and flare are operating properly.

3. MassDEP, through Shaw, is also arranging for an inspection of the flare system by Highland Power. Highland Power designed and built the flare and previously performed a flare inspection in December 2008. The purpose of Highland’s inspection is to ensure that the flare system is operating as designed and to have Highland Power provide any recommendations concerning operation and maintenance of the flare system.

4. MassDEP staff also inspected current conditions at the landfill yesterday and accompanied Shaw through the neighborhood. MassDEP and Shaw also staff observed New Ventures staff work to address several gas breakout spots by sealing and covering them with clay and/or soil.

5. Overnight monitoring will be conducted again tonight, August 7. The purpose of the monitoring is to document the frequency and intensity of H2S and odors in the neighborhoods. This data will provide MassDEP with a better understanding of conditions in the neighborhoods and aid us in considering what additional measures might be implemented to improve the situation.

6. Ambient Air Sampling: MassDEP anticipates having Shaw conduct the ambient air sampling next Wednesday or Thursday, August 12 or 13, depending upon weather conditions. These samples will be analyzed not just for hydrogen sulfide (H2S), but for a variety of potential constituents. Our plan is to conduct this air sampling in the early morning hours at locations that have been impacted in the past.

Please send your questions, comments and suggestions to:

In addition to these email updates, correspondence and reports are posted in the MassDEP Northeast Region web site at:

A little over an hour after this update was sent out (at 8:38 p.m.), a Low St. resident reported that all the smoke detectors in his house were going off; they had opened all the windows to let the cooler air into the house.

The other day someone said to me that they were inclined to agree with the mayor that the burning smell is coming from the industrial park and not the landfill.

In the scheme of things over there - Does it matter where it's coming from, really? The point is -people are inhaling it and no one has a clue what it is.

Saying that it's coming from somewhere other than the landfill without identifying where it is coming from and what it is, is not helpful; in fact, it's criminally negligent.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What's fairness got to do with it?

Tom Salemi has an interesting followup to my post about the NRA appointee.

"This is more of a question of process and fairness," Tom writes as he questions why Mayor John Moak did not wait on the appointment until a new mayor takes over.

Well ... I'm just learning that this nominee is a person with whom Ward 1 City Councillor Larry McCavitt has had - let's call them "differences" about waterfront issues in the past.

So I'm thinking this is mostly a (not loving) message to my ward councillor or a (loving) message to Newburyport Development, or both.

I really have to wonder - as I do when a president is on his way out the door - how much time these people spend in their final months in office nominating people for positions to twist a knife in someone else and/or to give a boost to an influential supporter.

Whatever it is - it's Moak's prerogative. (No time left for you, neighbors of the landfill; I've got other fish to fry.)

But do look for some meandering drive in the next set of plans for this proposed park, on the western side - a drive that leads to a certain 8 acres that at present has no access. You may have noticed that the plans presented were mostly for the eastern NRA lot.

MR Beach Alliance meets next week

In case you've forgotten, the MRBA will meet at 10 a.m. next Friday, Aug. 14 (also my birthday).

One of the conditions of getting federal money for the dredging project is the re-opening of public access ways to the beach.

This situation has pretty much come to a head out here on Old Point, where three whole streets have been absorbed into people's "private" property.

There is one house that has been expanded over what is supposed to be, I believe, Q St. and there should be 2 streets beyond the circle at the end of Old Point Rd., off the missing Q St.

As long as I have lived here, residents have been trying to stop the public (me and some of my neighbors) from getting to the river by claiming we are on their personal property. Usually saying "I live out here" works, but in a couple of cases, that only gets you a dirty look and some foul language.

I once asked Mayor Moak about this and he said something lame like "all the public rights of way have been taken over and that's the way it is on Plum Island."

Sort of like the, "Oh, capping a landfill means odors and that's the way it is" argument that we're hearing now.

Oh where is someone who will ask these candidates for office some tough questions about this and other issues that are just swept under the rug in the name of "that's the way it is."

I'm beginning to hear increased rumblings about PI breaking away as its own community.

Someone today said, with all the revenue from property taxes, just think of the top-drawer services we would have. You know - the ones that have been taken away, like a fire station.

The Plum Island Taxpayers Association, or PITA, a while back got some state money (or Newbury got it, depending on who you talk to) for a services building at Newbury's island center. That money went towards erosion prevention.

Well, the beach is one of the worst in the world (according to Esquire magazine), so who cares about sandbags anyway? Or trash bins, or restrooms?

This is all in Newbury ... Newburyport has all that stuff, plus little problem with erosion.

Something positive, for a change

Perusing the City Council agenda further, I see that Judy Lacroix, that whirlwind of community service, is proposing to donate a granite bench in the memory of Shirley Lattime. The bench will hopefully be placed on Inn St. near where Mrs. Lattime had her hotdog cart for so many years.

(In fact, it's still there, being run by other family members.)

The cost of the bench, its delivery to the city and installation would be paid for by Mrs. Lattime's brother, Harold Gadsby, who has been very generous keeping his sister's memory alive also by sponsoring "Shirley's General Store" at Yankee Homecoming.

As most of us know, Shirley Lattime was much more than just a vendor of hotdogs. I wrote this story for the Current, just a little more than 3 years ago. Since then, Linda Fonseca, Lattime's daughter who inherited the cart, has also passed away.

An attached photo of the proposed "Shirley's Place" bench looks to be a fitting tribute. Perhaps if/when the senior center is every built, the powers that be might consider naming it in her honor.

I never met Mrs. Lattime - many times I walked by her cart, saw the line, and thought "someday I'll have to write a story about her" - but I left it too late. I was and still am very sorry I never took the time.

Landfill coverage is national

Yesterday's DEP landfill update:

Crow Lane Landfill Update - August 6, 2009

This update is being provided as part of MassDEP’s commitment to more frequent communications with the residents and officials of Newburyport concerning the capping and closure of Crow Lane Landfill. MassDEP is actively monitoring conditions at the Landfill and in the neighborhoods, and directing the activities of our consultant (Shaw Environmental). In addition, we are closely reviewing complaints, deploying resources to investigate and document odor problems, and providing real-time communications to New Ventures about what we are seeing and smelling on the ground. In addition, we are conducting monitoring and sampling, as described below.

The Commissioner is closely tracking the situation at the landfill, including the complaints, the activities of MassDEP staff and Shaw, and New Ventures' progress toward closure of the landfill. New Ventures is required to cap (e.g., install the fabric membrane layer or FML on the landfill plus substantial loaming and seeding on top of the FML) by November 2009, under a Court-approved agreement. Installation of the FML is critical to solving the odor problems.

A key component to minimizing odor impacts during the closure is to promptly identify any landfill gas or leachate breakouts and quickly repair those spots. MassDEP has tasked Shaw with inspecting the landfill early each morning. Shaw then provides prompt notice to landfill personnel of breakout locations so that repairs can be made promptly. MassDEP tracks and monitors the problems and repairs at the landfill each day as well as progress toward closure. MassDEP updates the Attorney General's office frequently.

MassDEP continues to explore with New Ventures what additional measures any can be implemented to reduce odors during the closure.

Below are some additional updates and/or specifics:

1. Overnight monitoring was conducted in the neighborhood last night, August 5, 2009, using a Jerome Meter. In response to the pattern of recent complaints, MassDEP arranged for Shaw to begin conducting several nights of ambient air monitoring in the affected neighborhoods. We anticipate collecting several nights of data to better document the frequency and intensity of odors. This data will provide MassDEP with a better understanding of conditions in the neighborhoods and aid us in considering what additional measures might be implemented to improve the situation.

2. MassDEP staff and Shaw will be sampling landfill gas today, August 6, 2009, from several gas extraction wells at the landfill as well as the landfill gas entering and exiting the pretreatment system and entering the flare. This data will provide some insight into current gas levels within the landfill and also MassDEP determine whether the pretreatment system is operating as designed.

3. MassDEP has executed the revised contract with Shaw Environmental. With this "Change Order" in place, MassDEP can direct Shaw to conduct collection and analysis of:

(a) ambient air samples in the neighborhoods;
(b) samples of landfill gas entering and exiting the pretreatment system and flare;
(c) surface water and sediment samples from around the landfill, the vernal pool, and from leachate collections tanks.

(a) Ambient Air Sampling: MassDEP and Shaw are mobilizing to collect ambient air samples from the neighborhood for analysis. We are planning to collect samples beginning next week, which will be analyzed not just for hydrogen sulfide (H2S), but for a variety of potential constituents. In the meantime, as noted above, MassDEP has tasked Shaw to conduct some overnight air monitoring in the affected neighborhoods. Last night, August 5, 2009 was the first night.

(b) Landfill Gas Sampling: MassDEP staff and Shaw will be sampling landfill gas today, August 6, 2009, from several gas extraction wells at the landfill as well as the landfill gas entering and exiting the pretreatment system and entering the flare. At MassDEP's direction, Shaw has already begun, and will continue, to monitor the landfill gas at the pretreatment system and flare on a daily basis.

(c) Surface Water and Sediment Sampling: MassDEP and Shaw are mobilizing to undertake this sampling. Scheduling information will be provided once confirmed.

4. Jerome Meter Network: MassDEP has made progress toward installing additional Jerome meters around the landfill and expects to have a total of four (4) meters installed next week.

As Regional Director Dick Chalpin indicated in the prior e-mail, please send your questions, comments and suggestions to:

In addition to these email updates, correspondence and reports are posted in the MassDEP Northeast Region web site at:

Note: MassDEP anticipates sending additional updates by e-mail tomorrow, Friday, August 7, 2009.

Note that the landfill neighbors, who are sick and tired of the smell of rotten eggs wafting about their homes (I smelled it myself, yesterday, near the Shaw's Plaza), are now thinking about lawyers.

A couple of weeks ago, the editor of the Current wrote a piece about the law firm in St. Louis that had a blurb on its website about the Crow Lane landfill.

So now this Simon Law Firm yesterday released some more information, I'd guess in the hopes of garnering some business (one of their attorneys will be in MA soon, or is here already). Here's an excerpt:

"Capping a landfill is not an excuse for hydrogen sulfide releases," notes environmental lawyer Todd Hageman. "Landfill closures can be, and have been done, in ways which control and collect the landfill gas so that gasses, with their associated odors and physical effects, do not escape the facility's zone of discharge."

Hageman explains, "Hydrogen sulfide gas can be detected by people at concentrations of 2.5 parts per billion. I hope the state allows the community an opportunity to review the air-quality testing plan and that the state continuously monitors in all directions around the landfill at detection levels low enough to capture the noxious gasses and for a period of time long enough to understand the impacts."

This release is not only on the Business Wire but is also on the CNBC website. Also our little piece of hell is mentioned on the firm's blog.

Mayor's appointee to NRA

OK, so I'm back after a morning of running all over creation. I'm getting very tan.

I got the agenda for Monday's City Council meeting, and right away something jumped out at me:

The first reading of the appointment of John G. Morris to the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority, or NRA as we all refer to it.

No, this isn't John "Jack" Morris, the director of health. I don't think he lives in the city and this here John Morris lives on Water St.

Anyway, I was intrigued by his letter to Mayor John Moak, which is included in the agenda packet.

"Dear John," it starts out, "It was a pleasure speaking with you last week about the NRA and its plans for the waterfront."

In the next paragraph:

"I would like to work with the members of the NRA to move forward with their plans to begin the next phase of the design which was recently presented by the Cecil Group at the Firehouse. After al these years it is refreshing to see that the project is gaining tangible positive momentum."

And so on and so forth.

"Tangible positive momentum?" Was he at that meeting at the Firehouse? Did he not hear the multiple protestations about what a teeny, tiny step this was?

Anyway - this is just for your information. Could be contentious.

Sewer plant gets a grant

This just in, from Mike Costello's office:

Newburyport to Receive Green Technology Grant

BOSTON – The City of Newburyport will receive a $3,055,000 grant for installing green technology at the city’s sewer treatment plant, State Representative Michael A. Costello has announced.

The rehabilitation of the sewer plant will cost an estimated $24.4 million, and the grant for energy efficiency will reduce that total by more than 12 percent. The grant was distributed through the Green Infrastructure portion of the federal stimulus contribution to the State Revolving Fund. The sewer treatment plant upgrade also qualified for the principle forgiveness program of the SRF, which will save the city about 9 percent of its borrowing costs for the project.

“This grant is a triple bonus for the city of Newburyport. It will reduce the upfront cost to construct the new sewer treatment plant. It will save the city on borrowing costs. And it will also make the plant more cost effective in the long-term by ensuring that energy efficient technologies are used,” said Representative Costello.

“I would like to thank Environmental Secretary Ian Bowles, who was a strong advocate for energy efficient policies on the national level during the stimulus discussions. I also want to thank DEP Commissioner Laurie Burt who worked with city officials during recent weeks to ensure that this project would qualify under the program’s guidelines.”

The energy efficient improvements at the new sewer treatment plant include: reconstruction of the main operations building using energy efficient (LEED) design principles, the replacement of the existing belt filter press with a rotary press, an upgrade of the existing mechanical surface aerators and the replacement of the pump with higher efficiency equipment. New lighting, heating and ventilation systems will be installed. And the project includes a 65 kW solar photovoltaic system onsite.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Well this is nice - Esquire magazine has named the Plum Island beach as one of the worst in the world!

It's #2, right behind a beach in Goa, India, where sacred cows are allowed to roam the beach. I actually think that if I were visiting India, I'd go to that beach just to see the cows.

If I were Esquire, I'd have been more inclined to mention the riptides and icy cold water in addition to the erosion.

But still - the tiny piece doesn't mention the Refuge beach/Sandy Point State Reservation (both also on Plum Island, nitwits), and both of which are beautiful and have little erosion because they are pristine, or the part of the beach that's in Newburyport.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How soon is now?

Wow ...

Just saw an email on the landfill thread from Ron K.

He got a letter from Gov. Deval Patrick today informing him that "Secretary Ian Bowles and his team from the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs" will follow up with him "directly" on the landfill issue.

He's excited, I'm excited - not sure if the mayor and health director are excited because I don't know if they got similar communications.

oh yay

Shut it down

OK, so I'm sitting here today and I'm seeing all kinds of emails about the landfill - children sick, parent losing a day of work to stay home with sick children, grandparents having to send sick grandchild home because of stench ...

See what "secret" deals get you? This is one thing secret deals can get you - a lawsuit.

And as much as I feel for the people who are trying to save the White Hen Pantry and the people sending a fire truck to Guatemala and all the other stuff people are rallying behind, where is the compassion for the residents of this city who are and have been inhaling hydrogen sulfide, day in and day out for weeks now?

This is text from an email sent out by Brian Derrivan within the hour:

I have a call into Commissioner Burt’s office and just got off the phone with John Carrigan from the DEP. He has assured me that they are working diligently with Shaw and NV to try and control the breakouts that have been out of control for the past few weeks.

If it's freaking out of control, then someone should shut the operation down, don't you think?

I mean, come on. They don't have control over the situation and they don't know what is causing the burnt odors people are complaining about ... SHUT IT DOWN.

What interim agreement?

After a quick excursion out to water my garden and secure my iced latte, I once again picked up (figuratively speaking) the Daily News.

I came across this story, on which the headline promises reasons why councillors voted against the shared health services agreement with Amesbury and Salisbury.

First of all, you have to go pretty far down in the piece to get any reaction from any councillor and the first reaction was from last week.

But more important - what is this "interim regional health agreement" referenced in the lead?

The city will continue to participate in the interim regional health agreement that has been in place with Salisbury and Amesbury until the end of the 60-day window to exit the deal — a window spelled out in the agreement.

Where did that come from? Was that agreement approved by the City Council? What the ...?

More on White Hen

So I'm reading the story in the Daily News about last night's White Hen meeting ... yeah.

The piece conveniently leaves out anything Ward 3 councillor (and mayoral candidate) James Shanley said, how passionate the people were and how both Moak and Shanley advised people to move their prescription accounts over to another pharmacy if they are unhappy with what CVS (and by extension New England Development) are doing.

I have to say, I was pretty impressed with what the mayor had to say (although since he was sitting right behind me every time he said something I was hit by a cloud of mouthwash fumes) because when he said that about moving prescriptions, he also pointed out that some people are tied to a CVS under their health plans.

Isn't that interesting? And people think they have freedom to choose under the current health care system.

It's also pretty impressive that Shanley has his prescriptions at Lynch, the only privately-owned pharmacy left in town.

The deal has been done, and even if it hadn't, I don't know what the success rate would be of this group of people. But I love that they are doing it because Karp and the Lagasses need to know that people aren't going to just roll and while they are rolling all over the city.

Hey, I wonder if Karp has found a way to get access to his property on the waterfront yet? The paid parking area on the parcel owned by the Waterfront Trust would suggest, "Well, not through there at any rate."

But of course, the development wouldn't be there for years and who knows what could happen in the interim?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Saving the Hen

All I've got to say is: these people are serious, and I never realized how attached people are to this little convenience store.

I'm telling you, it's because it is not a big, impersonal place. I heard it all tonight.

More than that I cannot say, without scooping myself.

Experiencing the vapors to the south of us

Someone sent me this report from It's about a breakout of fumes at a "trash disposal facility" in New Bedford.

NEW BEDFORD — A 'dense vapor" at ABC Disposal on Shawmut Avenue knocked out 10 people, sickened dozens more and prompted the evacuation of 150 people from the surrounding area. Three patients are reported in critical condition.

Thanks, Someone!

White Hen meeting tonight

According to the Daily News, there is a meeting tonight, at 7 p.m., about the White Hen Pantry/CVS debacle.

City Council President and mayoral candidate James Shanley said last week he hopes to see the White Hen Pantry find new retail space to lease next spring when they are forced to vacate the space at the Pond Street shopping plaza to make way for an expansion by CVS.

Shanley represents Ward 3, the area where the store is located and said he does shop there.
"I'll miss it," Shanley said. "I hope they find a place."

The news about the shop's closing has sparked controversy in the city as over 2.000 people have signed a petition urging the property owners New England Development and its local office, Newburyport Development, to reconsider the plan.

Shanley said he has reached out to Newburyport Development to talk about the situation. Shanley added that he is unsure as to whether he will attend tonight's meeting at the library, which was organized by shop owner Liz Frame, who is spearheading an effort to save the store.

That meeting begins at 7 p.m.

How many available commercial spaces are there in Ward 3, I wonder, that have parking? Of course, maybe the people in Ward 2 might appreciate another Ward 3 evacuee, since everyone has adopted the video store that was once in the Pond St. plaza and which is now in The Tannery.

I will be attending the meeting. It will be interesting to see if more people turn out to fight this than turn out for the landfill or the beach erosion or any other issue I make a big deal out of on here.

Like I said before - the first thing I missed about Boston when I moved out here was the corner store I used to patronize for the odd item.