After decades of unquestioned use by Gloucester residents, after still-regular cleanup efforts by the city's Department of Public Works, even after prior years stationing lifeguards along the sands, the fact that Gloucester has never held any title or easements showing that city has an ownership stake in Pavilion Beach borders on the absurd.
But the notion that the owners of properties above the Outer Harbor beach — now including, of course, Jim Davis of New Balance and the Beauport Gloucester LLC company looking to build a hotel on the former Birdseye site — would seek exclusive rights and even try to deny any Gloucester residents access to Pavilion is absurd as well.
So the idea that city solicitor Suzanne Egan and Beauport Gloucester representatives, including local attorney John Cunningham, are "working on" an agreement that would assure perpetual public beach access to that portion of Pavilion is a good thing.
But in the process, Beauport officials can go a long way toward easing concerns about any perceived Fort takeover through their Fort rezoning proposal by signing onto a document ensuring continued public access to the beach. And city officials should finally nail down in writing an access agreement they should have had long ago — one assuring residents that they have a continued right to enjoy a beach that sits in the heart of their city.
As we've noted, the Beauport Gloucester rezoning proposal itself should open the doors to new opportunities for the entire city and all of is residents. It will also open a lot of serious discussion as to what uses should or should not be allowed between the Chamber of Commerce building and the Birdseye property itself.
But one talking point that should not even be on the table is a question of residents' rights to use Pavilion Beach.
Both the city and Beauport Gloucester and the city of Gloucester itself can and should indeed now firm up an agreement to ensure those rights for decades more to come.