GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 26, 2013

Kirk KOs bid to lift I-4, C-2 site from DPA

By Sean Horgan
Staff Writer

---- — Citing the ongoing work of the city’s Harbor Plan Committee and a concurrent Designated Port Area boundary review, Mayor Carolyn Kirk Wednesday vetoed the City Council measure to remove the city-owned I-4, C-2 parcel from the state’s Designated Port Area along the city’s waterfront.

Kirk said the council’s 5-4 vote at its Sept. 10 meeting to file a home-rule petition with the state to remove I-4, C-2 from the DPA reflected a divided council, and indicated continuing local disagreement on what to do with the parcel the city purchased for $1.5 million in June 2010.

“State legislators, and the governor, who has to sign off on the home rule petition, are reluctant to interfere in disagreements at the local level, and rightly so,” Kirk wrote in the memorandum attached to her veto.

The city’s Harbor Plan Committee, which held its first public forum Wednesday night, is moving toward a draft plan that it expects to submit to the state in May of 2014. Also, the city. in conjunction with the state’s Coastal Zone Management agency, is in the midst of conducting the first-ever review of the DPA’s boundaries.

Kirk said the council measure also would undermine the work of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, which is working with the city “to assess the viability of a multi-tenanted, revenue generating, self-sustaining facility such as their in Portland, Maine.”

Finally, the mayor said, the council failed to meet the established standard for approving the measure.

That standard, first set when Kirk outlined her reasons for supporting Cape Pond Ice’s request for removal from the DPA, includes a compelling business reason, financial hardship and “assessment of the likelihood of success of other available remedies.”

“Without consensus, the city has a history of becoming frozen in time or paralyzed with no ability to move forward,” Kirk wrote. “With consensus, we can make progress in a direction that has support, and with the best chance of success.”

The mayor’s veto, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office, effectively kills the measure since home-rule petitions must include the support of the mayor and city council.

City Councilor Bruce Tobey, one of the five councilors to support the measure in the Sept. 10 vote and the sponsor of a similar measure about a year ago that was defeated 8-1 by the council, said Kirk’s veto represents a failure of leadership.

“After decades of failure and growing community demands for movement on I-4, C-2, it is parliamentary nonsense not to allow this to go forward,” Tobey said. “The council took a substantial step forward to move the city to a better place. The council led. The mayor failed to do that.”

Sean Horgan may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3464, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT