, Gloucester, MA

October 12, 2012

Letter: Time to stop annual assault on Stage Fort

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

I was glad to see front-page coverage (the Times, Thursday, Oct. 4) given to the annual bike race damage in Stage Fort Park, caused during the so-called “Gran Prix of Gloucester” cyclocross competition, and I was glad to see the story quote a city resident who’s upset about the aftermath.

He’s not the only one.

Though I’m a Rockport resident, I, like Mayor Kirk (who wrote an op-ed piece in this paper extolling the virtues of walking Stacy Boulevard/Stage Fort Park a year ago), enjoy walking along the boulevard and through Stage Fort Park, and I do so several times a week, year round.

The boulevard, the Lucy Brown Davis path, and Stage Fort Park are treasures that belong to the whole Cape Ann Community, and it hurts to see the damage done there each year. The pictures portrayed in last week’s Times make the park look like a drunken farmer with his tractor and plow ran amok through the grassy fields.

It’s pretty obvious that DPW director Mike Hale, also quoted in the story, never walks through the park for its scenery or serenity, nor does he ever query anyone else in the community regarding their impressions of the damage done, for him to make the statement, “I believe everyone’s always satisfied once they’re (Wolf Hill and their follow-up damage repair attempts) through.”

To have 1,000 bike riders riding their bikes for two days through a grassy piece of our national heritage (Mayor Kirk, you do remember what took place here in 1623 don’t you?) in the rain in an event that makes money only for outsiders leaves those of us (city, non-city residents, and tourists from all over the world) who use the park for the purpose it was originally created, with an environmental eyesore. And it destroys part of the soul of this beautiful place we live in.

Speaking of environment, the city, by allowing this to happen, may be leaving itself open to an environmental lawsuit, for it (the city) has never applied for a Department of Environmental Protection permit through the local Conservation Commission for destruction of a coastal bank — degradation of the environment within 100 feet of the ocean. Yet that is what happens each year, as part of the “bike race course” used is a 45-degree dirt slope between the top of the hill in the Park and the Lucy Brown Davis path, which then washes out all winter long. Resident David Dow is right, for it takes a year before some of the environmental damage caused begins recovering.

No matter how popular this event may seem to the cycling crowd, it’s way past time to ask if this is an appropriate use of what I remind you all is a national treasure.

Our country had a fundamental beginning here almost 400 years ago, and someone in city government is allowing the “trashing” of a part of our national heritage.

Do you think the federal government would allow a “cyclocross” competition in the midst of Arlington National Cemetary? Is “our” Stage Fort Park that much less “sacred” that we can trash it once a year for a few outsiders who could care less what happens when they’re gone?


Mt. Pleasant Street, Rockport