To purchase 57 Low Street for the use of Newburyport Youth Services
We, the signers of this Petition, alongside Pat Temple, Mariah Newman, and Eliza Bobek, strongly urge the City of Newburyport (the “City) via the City Council and the Mayor’s office, to provide safe and suitable dedicated facilities for the Newburyport Youth Services (“NYS”) with the purchase and renovation of the building at 57 Low Street.
We are residents and registered voters of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
NYS is in need of a permanent home
- NYS is in need of a permanent space to provide stable programming for the city’s youth and their families;
- The renovation and construction of a new home for NYS at 57 Low Street will address both short-term needs and the ability to grow long-term;
- A centralized location will provide equity and accessibility to all families in the City.
The proposed NYS Plan will address questions raised by the City Council and provide a program which will:
- Renovate the existing building at 57 Low Street to include youth related programming and construct administrative space within an estimated cost of $3.5M;
- Enhance the site with green space and parking sensitive to the environment and the City’s interest in sustainable growth;
- Create a plan for a gymnasium to be constructed in a future second phase, allowing time to raise the necessary funds through a public-private partnership;
- Address concerns for protection of adjacent wetlands;
- Pursue private sector and non-city public funding to leverage the City’s financial contribution to the project.
NYS provides a cost-effective service to the community with the ability to expand to accommodate the City’s demand for service:
- In 2020, NYS provided services to over 2,200 children, families, and caregivers. With a budget of $307,000, NYS brought in more than two times that amount in revenue, grants, and donations;
- In a 2017 survey of the youth in the Greater Newburyport area, only 30% of middle and high school age youth felt their community valued youth; a permanent youth center will demonstrate a commitment to the City’s youth;
- An expansion is necessary to store and to fundraise for food and materials for the holidays for families in need as well as organized drives for back to school with a greater need in 2020/21 than any other year; Additionally, NYS has a need to expand public health service to the youth of the City for those experiencing or at risk of mental health and/or substance use concerns.
The Brown School Building is not a viable option
- Utilizing the existing footprint and layout does not allow NYS to expand its highly sought-after programs, nor to meet desired operational goals and necessary protocols;
- Any renovation will trigger the need to address environmental issues and accessibility requirements, none of which were addressed or budgeted in the recent Feasibility Study;
- Renovation of a 100-year old building runs the risk of finding additional obstacles which could hinder the completion of the space per program needs and within budget;
- The $1.7M proposed City contribution likely will only go so far as to address the issues of deferred maintenance such as water infiltration, replacement of inadequate mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, and satisfy required code compliance and environmental concerns. Very little, if any, will be available to address program needs.
- The current location is not and cannot meet the City’s LEED standards;
- The use of a portion of this property for the NYS is not the best use of the City’s real estate assets. The Brown School is a valuable asset which has received strong interest from not for profit and private parties willing to spend their own capital to improve this facility. A more compatible use will optimize the city’s property tax base and adjacent real property values.
Achieves the social justice goals of the City of Newburyport, providing a centrally located, accessible location
- 57 Low Street can provide a long-term solution for a NYS space in the community which is centrally located and accessible to local schools;
- The centralized location will support equity and accessibility to all families in line with the City’s commitment to social justice.