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July 20, 2013

Letter: Building a vision for city's waterfront

To the editor:

As a longtime resident of Gloucester and advocate for sustaining a working waterfront, I am very pleased to see the formation of the Gloucester Harbor Community Development Corporation.

The addition of a private group with the potential to envision and create economic development ventures on the harbor is an idea whose time has surely come.

Gloucester Harbor CDC’s vision “to contribute to a healthy, innovative, and sustainable ocean-based economy while continuing to strengthen the community with knowledge, jobs, investment, and tradition,” fits the goals of the 2011 (Harbor) Economic Development Plan extremely well.

Also known as The Mt. Auburn Report, this official plan states, “A consensus appears to be emerging within the community that, while everything possible should be done to support and sustain traditional harbor industries, the community must also pursue new economic opportunities that will complement, rather than supplant traditional industries, and at the same time, build a more vibrant, and robust harbor economy that will create jobs and business opportunities for community residents, stimulate harbor property investment, and generate more tax revenue for local government.”

The report went on to identify three areas for preservation and further economic expansion — commercial fishing, the maritime economy and the visitor economy. Of these three, the visitor based-economy has received sustained attention with the development of two cultural districts, expanded tourism efforts, the HarborWalk, a revitalized downtown development group, and an arts community that is going full steam ahead in promoting arts locations and activities.

There are presently many harbor businesses that sustain themselves and our community; to name a few, Ocean Crest/Neptune’s Harvest, Mortillaro Lobsters, The Gloucester House, BASE, The Cape Ann Seafood Exchange, Connelly’s, a number of whale watch companies, schooner ventures, and all the individual fishing enterprises that are doing their best to hang on in the midst of a vicious regulatory environment.

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