Under the leadership of its chairman, former City Council President James Shanley, the NRA in 2012  presented what it called THE PROPOSED MASTER PLAN for The Newburyport Waterfront. It was prepared by Union Studio, an architectural firm located in Providence, RI.

The plan called for selling or leasing part of the waterfront to private developers and the construction of two 72,000 square foot buildings with private condominiums and shops.


In response, COW membership expanded significantly. The group distributed information flyers, filed an Open Meeting Law complaint and held city officials responsible for procedural gaffes in the planning.

In April 2013, COW offered an alternative to the NRA plan for the Central Waterfront.


On June 29, 2013 the NRA announced a revised plan for its commercial development project that called for a slight reduction in the size of the buildings.

On November 23, 2013, following Newburyport's city election in which close to two-thirds of the voters voiced support for an open public waterfront, the NRA announced it was backing away from the plan and will no longer be working with Union Studio.



On May 10, 2014  Mayor Donna Holaday held a public meeting on the future of the Central Waterfront. EVERYONE was invited. At the meeting, citizens worked together to create their visions for the NRA land.  

ALL of the resulting presentations argued that:

  1. -the land should be kept as open space. 
  2. -the land should stay in the public's hands. Many want the land held in trust.
  3. -no permanent buildings other than a visitors' center should be considered. 
  4. -open space is NOT passive.  A multitude of ideas from farmers' markets to ice skating rinks to playgrounds were presented as ideas for creating a multiuse community space.

To view the results of the meeting, go to:



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