GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 4, 2013

Letter: Deliberating Rockport's Long Beach options


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

The Rockport Board of Selectmen has the obligation to deal with the expiring leases at Long Beach and this topic has been a priority for the Selectmen’s office for months.

A great deal of research has been done, and is continuing. The selectmen, through the town administrator, have engaged services to provide a professional appraisal report and the resulting financial analysis will complete the research.

We have made it a point to listen to citizens’ opinions, including holding a public forum with over 100 people in attendance, fielding a number of phone calls and letters from citizens, and people who have attended our regular meetings. All of the public’s input will be considered as we move forward.

The board reviewed a number of possible scenarios to include everything that people were saying they wanted to see happen with Long Beach. Based on the research of these scenarios, it was clear that the regulatory processes, financial implications and possible legal ramifications associated with some of these ideas, led the board to eliminate those we deemed were not in the best interest of the town as a whole.

We are left with two viable choices. In the near term, we have a requirement to deal with the leases. A longer-term option of selling the lots behind the beach would require further investigation and the need for Town Meeting approval as well special legislation, if we were to pursue that course in the future.

The board fully recognizes its responsibility to all of its citizens with regard to this issue, including the citizens who own the cottages at Long Beach. The board also recognizes the condition of the seawall, the extent of the new height regulations, erosion of the barrier beach, and the overall impact that all of this has on the environment, the cottage owners, the taxpayers, and the need to protect and sustain the essential character of Rockport.

As a coastal community, Rockport must face the challenges inherent in the privilege. We have 13 seawalls, five revetments and four breakwaters, all needing to be maintained in order to protect areas around and behind them.

At this point, the leases are expiring and we must act. Therefore, we will be scheduling a special selectmen’s meeting on the topic of the Long Beach leases to allow the board members to deliberate with each other.

We have until Oct. 1 to officially notify all of the lease holders of the Dec. 31 expirations and inform them of what to expect next.

As always, citizens are encouraged to contact members of the board with comments about this issue or any issue of concern. Our contact information is on the town website.

ERIN BATTISTELLI

Rockport,

Chair, Rockport Board of Selectmen