GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 12, 2013

Kirk, other mayors tout region's progress

DANVERS — Gloucester’s Carolyn Kirk and other North Shore mayors painted a picture of economic progress during the annual State of the Region meeting Wednesday morning at the Danversport Yacht Club.

The leaders of eight cities and towns detailed hundreds of millions of dollars in public or private investment in schools, roads, housing, parks and waterfront property.

In Salem alone, more than $1.5 billion in investment is expected to take place over the next few years, Mayor Kim Driscoll said. Those projects include a new, $800 million natural gas facility, with plans to use the current coal plant’s deep-water dock to welcome cruise ships to the city.

Driscoll called the plan as “an opportunity to trade coal ships for cruise ships.”

“Our city is once again looking to the sea to chart our way forward,” she said.

From a new dog park to last year’s installation of Blackburn Industrial Park’s giant wind turbines, Mayor Carolyn Kirk outlined a list of “top 10 things happening” in Gloucester.

Kirk, who is seeking her fourth term but facing a challenge from developer Mac Bell in the November elections, told the more than 300 attendees that the city is making progress and is in “great fiscal health.”

Kirk said the city was spending more money than it took in before she assumed office, but is now “on or under budget.”

The mayor said the city will save $3 million to $6 million on the cost of health insurance over the life of a recently signed contract with union workers.

Kirk also outlined several recent or upcoming projects in the city, including the opening of the new dog park at Stage Fort Park, the construction of three windmills that she said will generate $11 million in cash for the city over 25 years, and last week’s re-opening of the $3.5 million renovated Newell Stadium at Gloucester High.

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