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Letters/My View

February 4, 2013

Letter: Let state fish pier be model for I-4, C-2

To the editor:

It may be surprising to many living in “America’s Oldest Seaport,” but as a community we own next to no property on our Inner Harbor.

Without any such public infrastructure, it is therefore very difficult to effectively influence — if not lead — this port’s economic future.

Fortunately, the 2010 acquisition of the 1.8-acre I-4, C-2 property on Rogers Street between the Building Center and The Gloucester House restaurant has put us into a position to demonstrate unambiguously how to enhance jobs and the tax base in this port with 21st-century opportunities. For the first time in decades, this community can leverage this premium piece of public infrastructure to aggressively determine our ocean-centric future by helping incubate again and again advanced ocean-centric ventures to spread all over our Inner Harbor.

How or why to do this? Use the well-established model of a publicly-owned mini marine-industrial park:

The state-owned and vital Jodrey State Fish Pier complex:

Is publicly owned and managed;

Was built via a collaborative funding stream;

Has a continuing mission to serve the Inner Harbor’s economic interest;

Contains a complex of industrial structures on land, along with a dedicated commercial-fleet-only marina (actually like I-4-C-2’s smaller docking space). Both of those elements are accessible by matching marine-industrial and scientific ventures and projects, under short- and long-term lease-conditions.

Has the state retaining active public control over it to help guide the port’s future.

The Inner Harbor would seem inconceivable today without this publicly-owned infrastructure asset, with both buildings and marina typically well booked across the cycles of this port economy. Yet, downtown, on a footprint that is actually unmatched on the Inner Harbor, a multi-purpose ‘I-4, C-2 ocean innovation campus approach would very much follow this well-established legal and operational precedent. Our city-owned facility could:

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