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Letters/My View

June 21, 2013

Letter: Private sector must take lead on waterfront economy

To the editor:

For over 100 years, my family has worked on the Gloucester Harbor waterfront.

First was my great grandfather, followed by my grandfather – Leo – as well as my aunts and uncles, my cousins, and now generations of our children. Hundreds of Gloucester residents have worked these jobs.

My father, Michael, has worked on this waterfront for over 70 years. During that time, he created, built, and managed an array of companies in fish processing, wholesaling lobsters, animal feed, fueling services, whale watching and a restaurant. His involvement in the harborfront also includes an attempt at an offshore fish farm as well as a downtown hotel, all in the hope that it would make life better for both our family and for our community.

However rich my family’s history on the waterfront may be, however, the time for change has come.

The fishing industry, as we once knew it, has been and will forever remain changed. Conservation, the government, environmental concerns, and even the community have all contributed to these changes.

Yet with these changes comes opportunity, and now is the time to assess our options and prepare for what lies ahead. For years, the debate over Fish vs. Recreational and Residential vs. Industrial use of our waterfront has left us entangled. New government fishing regulations, attracting new businesses to waterfront properties that are in disrepair and in need of millions of dollars of work is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Sites that are too small for medium or large developments, those that would offer the most jobs to and the most tax revenue for the city compound this difficulty. For existing businesses, the DPA designation by the state has placed an undue burden on property owners by restricting uses and intentionally devaluing their properties, making many businesses illegal or simply unprofitable. And the community’s failure to address pretreatment of industrial wastewater has led to much higher operating costs for existing businesses currently unable to process large volumes of water.

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