GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 20, 2013

Letter: Building a vision for city's waterfront


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — 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.

These businesses benefit by location in a hub port, on a working waterfront, inter-connections throughout the harbor and, in turn, each contributes to the success of the entire port. There are also vibrant harbor activities from educational ventures such as Maritime Gloucester and Ocean Alliance, etc.

Not to be overlooked is also the ongoing work of many organizations in Gloucester that would be natural collaborators in actualizing this vision: the city’s Fisheries Commission, Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association, Gloucester Fishing Community Preservation Fund, etc. While surely not an all inclusive list, these organizations remain actively engaged in our community.

In recent years, the community has also enjoyed the benefits of two idea-packed maritime summits. It is now time to try to actualize some of those ideas.

Each harbor businesses or organization, whether fully marine industrial or mixed commercial use, educational or research based, and surely all the fishing businesses of Gloucester, who for generations have brought our communities fresh seafood, deserve an improved, expanded, sustainable and more fully developed harbor and working waterfront.

The Mt. Auburn Report had it right: “The key to creating jobs and stimulating property investment in the harbor area is to understand and build on the harbor’s economic strengths.”

The future of a vibrant waterfront depends on the full development of all three legs of Gloucester’s historic economy as well as the possibilities that lie in new marine initiatives. I sincerely hope the Gloucester Harbor CDC can, as its logo declares, become a strong force in connecting the working waterfront.

I’ll do my part. Will you join with us?

SUNNY ROBINSON

Harvard Street, Gloucester

Secretary, GHCDC