, Gloucester, MA

Letters/My View

October 21, 2012

Letter: A marine 'campus' option for I-4, C-2

To the editor:

Owning I-4, C-2 is a unique opportunity for this community to demonstrate unambiguously to the world that Gloucester is indeed a port economy moving forward in the 21st century.

Between downtown and the harbor, and with its broad footprint featuring over 220-feet of working waterfront right on Harbor Cove, it is Gloucester’s best location for a dedicated marine-industrial and marine-scientific “ocean innovation campus.” Here in the port’s heart, ocean-centered jobs training, all levels of related research, and most importantly well-paying full-time jobs have to be pursued with determination by all of us.

Between Gov. Deval Patrick’s emphasis on boosting vocational- and community-college training, and our schools’ growing STEM-curriculum (science, technology, engineering, math), an I-4, C-2 ocean innovation campus would offer a dense industrial cluster of concurrent vocational and commercial work actually unique in this commonwealth.

For sound fiscal sustainability, a significant part of the site would be dedicated to building advanced fuel-efficient boats, first for the nation’s fishing-operations, then whale-watching and party-fishing-boat owners, governmental research-craft, and finally this the world’s largest pleasure-boat market.

Drawing on these industrial manpower demands and its opportunities for direct hands-on full-immersion training, that site could become the North Shore Vocational Technical School District’s “saltwater campus,” offering right on this working waterfront a broad ocean-centric curriculum for internships, apprenticeships, life-long careers.

Collaborating with the state under the Designated Port Area guidelines, this 21st-century re-establishment of a vital port industry would in-source jobs and income, add industrial diversity and tax-base to the port – and become a distinct working-port tourism attraction.

What would such a facility look like? On the City’s website under the Community Development tab, and then under the I-4, C-2 design submissions, you’ll find the “Boatyard” proposal with renderings illustrating every detail. It was conceived by Phil Bolger & Friends Inc., boat designers of Gloucester since 1952, and drawn by Michael David Rubin, Harvard-trained Architect & Planner, CSI/LEED-AP, also of Gloucester and a long-serving volunteer on our planning and permitting boards.

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