GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

March 15, 2013

Courageous council vote sets stage for city's future

The date of March 13, 2013, may never go down as a state, national or even local holiday. But it is a date that should long be remembered in Gloucester’s history.

That’s because it will mark the date that eight members of Gloucester City Council, following the earlier leads of Mayor Carolyn Kirk and other city officials, courageously cast their votes to not only approve a series of permits for a new development project, but simultaneously made bold commitments to Gloucester’s future by granting their go-ahead for construction of a desperately needed hotel on the city’s waterfront.

On the surface, of course, the council votes merely backed the Beauport Gloucester LLC application for a 101-room, four-story hotel to be built for an estimated $20 million by a limited-liability corporation headed by Cruiseport Gloucester’s Sheree DeLorenzo and New Balance owner Jim Davis.

But it is much more than that. It is a vote to finally allow the long-overdue revitalization of one of Gloucester’s great yet dormant properties. And it’s a vote that should well serve the city, its taxpayers, and its local business community through providing up to 150 jobs, attracting new visitors, and giving an important boost to local longstanding business giants like Gorton’s, Varian/Applied Materials and Gloucester Engineering, who often bring in visiting executives and/or clients who can now stay and get a taste of Gloucester – not have to stay in Peabody, Danvers or elsewhere “down the line.”

It also stands as a courageous vote in the face of often-intense opposition — Fort neighborhood residents who feel the hotel project, even with its accompanying and equally overdue infrastructure upgrades, somehow threaten the life they’ve known, and others who see only Gloucester’s waterfront as it was years ago and is today, not what it can be with this type of flexibility in the future.

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