2017-10-19 / Opinion


True Impact of New Hotels

To the Editor:

We are about to have three new hotels-one on Broadway: one on America’s Cup Boulevard (with added retail space) and one on Long Wharf. They are innovatively designed, and no one doubts that the investors deserve a fair return on their investment. But where is the balance between commercial interests and residents?

From large projects in the past, some issues have become apparent.

With the Tennis Hall of Fame addition, the design on paper looked great, but when it was completed its size overwhelmed the area.

Will we ever get to see drawings of these new buildings within the context of their neighborhoods and surroundings? Will we get to see how the hotel on Americas Cup will alter the view of the harbor in the City by the Sea?

Also with the Tennis Hall project, the buildings were built out to the sidewalk, as is the right of the property owner. But a setback of 8 to 10 feet would have preserved public access to the sidewalk and street. Instead, the public lost access to the sidewalk and part of the street for months during the long construction process.

From what has been presented, none of the hotel designs seem to provide a setback area for cars to pull up to the entrances, like the area in front of the Viking Hotel.

What will happen when people stop in front of the hotels to drop off/pick up people and employees? On America’s Cup, drivers (especially Uber) stop illegally to pick up and drop off people, blocking both the bike lane and one travel lane.

From the Broadway revitalization, the construction was prolonged and disruptive and some businesses barely survived. The design left no accommodation for delivery vehicles.

What will happen in the hotel construction zones and will the city widen Kilburn Court for the Broadway hotel?

Finally, do we really need more hotel rooms? How does this affect the local bed-and-breakfast businesses who have stuck it out through economic “hard times” and who add so much character to the city? Why is Newport compared with Charlestown, S.C., when that city is much larger?

Hotels are the most intensive use of these sites. The constant coming and going of hotel traffic 24/7 is much more disruptive than other uses of these properties. All of these locations are already saturated with traffic. Long Wharf in particular is a dangerous intersection with cars making illegal turns to reverse direction, cars and vans using the southwest corner for drop-offs and with many drivers exhibiting a lot of road rage. Fire and rescue vehicles from Station 1 already struggle to get through that area in emergencies.

We say we want Newport to attract more families, to rely less on the tourist economy, to provide a positive experience for visitors and a decent quality of life for residents, how do these projects contribute to these efforts?

At what point does Newport stop being a place to live and become merely an investment opportunity?

Big projects have big consequences, forever.

Judith A. Byrnes

Freedom of Choice for Residents

To the Editor,

On Tuesday, Oct. 10, 138 residents attended the Portsmouth Town Council meeting in which the Transfer Station or curbside pick-up options were considered. Less than three people were in favor of curbside option.

Those who took time out of their busy schedules to address what is important to them clearly understood the council's position and agreed to numerous amendments if the council decided to maintain and keep the convenience of the Transfer Station open.

I would like to publicly thank the three members of the council: Paul Kesson for his motion, and Liz Pedro and David Gleason for their strong support for the transfer station as the best option. They clearly understood the facts in detail.

I also include Kevin Aguiar and Keith Hamilton who voted to support the public's interest and Paul Kesson's motion.

It was, however, surprising that as conservationists, Linda Ujifusa and Mark Ryan were the only two opposing votes supporters of curbside, failed to acknowledge that curbside doesn't mandate recycling and is the town administrator's responsibility to the council.

They also failed to consider all the noise, truck pollution, cost and unsightly complications of large trucks maneuvering throughout our neighborhoods several days a week on narrow roads, especially in Island Park and Common Fence Point, as some of these streets are approximately 15 feet across. The major street in Common Fence Point, Anthony Road, is only 20 feet wide.

It was clear from Linda Ujifusa’s vote and comment, (she preferred to have puddles of smells on the road and not in her van) her personal preference was without any consideration for the public's interest and for those who put her on the council to represent them. This was a betrayal of their trust and her aggression toward them will not be forgotten.

For her, curbside pick-up is still an option, but why was it so important to them to take away the public's choice to use the transfer station?

Thank you again to the five members of the council for their vote in supporting the public's interest and the freedom of choice.

Debra Faber

Principal’s Month: Really?

To the Editor:

In case you didn’t know, October is officially called Principal’s Month! I’m sure principals are thrilled.

I’m also sure they would be even more thrilled if the Newport School Committee granted them the authority they require to professionally perform their management responsibilities.

As things stand, your local school principal does not have the authority to hire or fire the people who “report” to him/her cannot reward an outstanding teacher with a pay increase; he/she cannot adjust the curriculum, cannot increase class size above a 25-student threshold, and cannot manage “his/her” school budget.

All of that authority has been “delegated” to the Teacher’s Union by the Newport School Committee during union negotiations.

How would you like that job: tons of responsibility, but no authority to manage it.

Principal’s Month is, nuts. It’s Union Month, and it’s about time our School Committee stopped delegating authority to an organization dedicated to serving adults, not our school children.

Don Dery

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