, Gloucester, MA


August 12, 2013

Editorial: Marina study can't slow city push for boat space

There may have been a time in which a study essentially striking down an innovative proposal for a floating marina with badly needed Gloucester transient docking space would have been a disappointment.

But the truth is, it was no surprise and certainly not a major disappointment last week when an extensive study carried out by Clean Engineering found all sorts of reasons why the city should not pursue such a project.

For one thing, the study took so long to see through that many residents and even local economic development officials may well have forgotten former board member Phil Cusumano’s proposal — patterned after a project in Maine — was even in the table. For another, it was clear from the start that Cusumano — whose idea was clearly outside the proverbial box — drew virtually no support from key board members who have quietly kept the expansion of the city’s mooring space to a crawl despite calls from city councilors and many residents for needed change.

There is no sound basis by which to question the Clean Engineering study. Indeed, the company took a thorough look at all aspects of the plan, and of the floating marina’s potential sites.

And while Cusumano raises an interesting point regarding the revenue projections — noting that CE’s figures are based only on a projected first year of use, and do not cite figures for succeeding years if the facility drew more and more boaters as it became better known — it is indeed hard to justify sinking an estimated $1.8 million of city money into a facility that could generate a net operations profit of just $1,000 a year, as the study found.

But with this project now off the table, it’s important that waterfront development officials — whether the Waterways Board, whose existence is increasingly harder to justify, or the city’s economic development wings — find space to grow the number of moorings that can welcome day boaters to Gloucester’s downtown.

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