By James Niedzinski
---- — ROCKPORT — After weeks of emails and meetings with town officials, a major step toward redeveloping the former Cape Ann Tool Company site is now ready to move forward — perhaps as early as today.
The town’s Board of Selectmen has unanimously agreed to order Harbormasters Scott Story and Rosemary Lesch to remove seven of the moorings attached to the seawall of the former Cape Ann Tool Company.
The harbormasters now have until July 10 to remove the seven moorings, which — with boats attached — had snagged work on the seawall that Michael Rauseo and his Cape Ann Tool LLC had been seeking to carry out on the site.
The order was confirmed through an email from attorney John Goldrosen, who works with the town’s Boston-based law firm, Kopelman and Paige. And Rauseo said Thursday night that the moves are expected to come today.
State law says any mooring that is on a private tideland cannot remain their if the owner objects, and Rauseo has objected several times to the moorings continued presence and the town’s failure to address it.
Rauseo has voiced his frustrations with the Harbormasters and Kopelman and Paige for not moving the moorings more quickly, and an email from Kopelman and Paige last week, backing the harbormasters, indicated that it saw no clear reason for the moorings’ removal.
“The harbormasters even refuse to require removal of the mooring lines that are connected to our seawall – the same sea wall that we must repair as part of our work,” Rauseo wrote in an email to town officials earlier this week. He said the Harbormasters have been uncooperative in allowing him to advance the project, and he questioned the legal advice they had received from Kopelman and Paige.
Town selectmen, however, stood behind Story and Lesch, saying the two have done their jobs properly.
“They are doing their job and they are doing their due diligence representing the town of Rockport,” said Erin Battistelli, who chairs the Board of Selectmen.
While he can begin to work on the seawall, he will not be using the 100-foot barge as once planned. He had opted to work on the wall from Pigeon Cove Harbor for safety reasons of his employees, he said.
The seven vessels attached to the seawall moorings would not have been the only ones affected, as the barge’s size would have made it difficult for other boats in the harbor as well. Now, he will be tackling the repairs from the land.
Lesch said the seven moorings are in the process of being moved, but they will remain in Pigeon Cove Harbor.
“They’re not going to be moved far,” she said.
The town has since reached out to a contractor to remove the moorings at the town’s expense; Lesch said there was no quote yet on how much the project will cost.
Battistelli said the Board of Selectmen has two goals regarding the site — to make sure the project moves along cooperatively, and to make sure it is done in a responsible manner.
“We want to work together, we want to be good neighbors,” selectmen Paul Murphy said. “It’s an eyesore, but I believe it could arguably be one of the nicest properties in Rockport.”
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at email@example.com.