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February 20, 2013

Members bolting Waterways panel

Members cite slow progress as reason

Gloucester’s Waterways Board, a key panel that, among other things, controls the waterfront sliver of the city’s I-4, C-2 site, has been staffed by nine members for the past year. But it is now down to six, after three members abruptly stepped aside in the last two weeks — with two citing different reasons but both pointing to the general slow moving bog of city politics overshadowing the board’s work.

The board is tasked with overseeing the operation and maintenance of public launch ramps, marinas and landings, promoting Harbor Plan implementation, establishing regulations for waterways, searching for new revenue sources for waterways management and reviewing waterfront development, all the while holding and managing the dockage space at the foot of the long-vacant, I-4, C-2 parcel. The board was expanded from seven members to nine last year, pulling on two economic development expert members at the city council’s decision, according to board chair Tony Gross.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who accepted resignation letters from each of the three former board members, Peter Bent, Phil Cusumano and Thomas Hovey, said that given the board’s quasi independent status and recent expansion, she had no worries about replacing the three remaining members.

”It wasn’t a mass exodus,” Kirk said. “We expanded the board last year so that we would have more members, so that the margins for obtaining a quorum weren’t so thin.”

Yet Hovey, appointed as one of the expanded board’s members last year, said he had worked in the private economic sector before his single year of service, and felt that city government, with the slow ebb and layers of checks and balances was just not for him, according to his resignation email to the mayor and the board.

”My career in finance had been one of making instantaneous decisions and getting immediate results,” Hovey wrote in the email, a copy of which was obtained by the Times. “This is not how city government works, I have discovered.

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