GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 1, 2012

Letter: Storm should spur city planning updates


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Many years ago I read a “My View” article in the Times written by a very insightful Gloucester resident who wrote about how the city was in a constant state of crisis.

After seeing the vast amount of destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I thought it an opportune time to reflect on the importance of thoughtful and wise city planning.

In light of the glut of speculation regarding the building of hotels in Gloucester, this is one significant area of development to consider.

At present, there are three hotel proposals, and the expansion of two inns on the “Back Shore.”

Those include Sam Park’s Gloucester Crossing, Jim Davis’ Beauport Gloucester hotel proposal for the “Fort,” David Hill’s Hampton Inn on Essex Avenue, and the expansion of the Atlantis Oceanfront and Bass Rocks Inns.

I am well aware of the controversy surrounding each of these proposals. But regardless of whose point of view is more valid or more or less self-serving, we need to be wise and forward thinking in how we allow our city to be developed, especially on coastal areas.

I would like to recall a July 2, 2012 Times article referencing a study done by the U.S. Geographic Survey stating that Cape Ann is part of a 600-hundred mile “hot spot” along the Atlantic Coast, where sea levels are rising at a significantly faster rate than the world as a whole — three to four times faster.

This means about a rise of about 4 -5 feet by the end of the century.

Every inch of sea level rise is very noticeable in places right on the water’s edge, such as the causeway. In fact, the causeway of Route 133 is one of the most vulnerable areas to sea level rise in Gloucester.

Water already comes across the road during very high tides. Does it really make sense to build a huge new hotel in an area that may need to have major road reconstruction at some point in the not-too-distant future? It will certainly be a lot more complicated to do such reconstruction with additional infrastructure to consider.

When you consider the costs involved with planning for sea level rise and storm surges, the possible short-term financial gains can quickly turn into medium-term expenses.

It’s time that we, as a city, put more concerted effort that includes a future where more dramatic storms, storm surges and steadily rising sea level will factor into our economic and infrastructure decisions.

We are counting our blessings today at having been spared the destruction in New Jersey, New York, and that 600-mile “hot spot.”

But what about tomorrow? Do we always want Gloucester to be in crises, too?

SUSAN TAORMINA

Essex Avenue, Gloucester