The word that Harborlight Community Partners is carrying out some $500,000 to $600,000 in upgrades to Rockport's Pigeon Cove Ledges certainly represents good news not only for the residents of that 30-unit complex, but for the community as well.
That support is shown by the wide scope of financial support for the project, including money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Rural Development, the town's Community Preservation Fund — which can be used to support affordable housing initiatives — the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, the North Shore United Way and the North Shore HOME Consortium, which has kicked in $225,000.
In that vein, Harborlight — a Beverly-based nonprofit developer — is rightfully being cited as a model organization, drawing praise at last week's Pigeon Cove project groundbreaking from Congressman John Tierney, state Sen. Bruce Tarr, and others like HOME Consortium director Kevin Hurley.
"They're doing a variety of things large and small," Hurley said, "and they've demonstrated their devotion to the community around them."
Yet one surrounding community has passed on what seems to be a perfectly logical affordable housing initiative and proposal; that's Gloucester, for its still-vacant, decaying old Maplewood School.
The city, you may recall, turned away Harborlight's $250,000 for creating 12 units of senior housing in the old school last month, in large part because the development corporation had the audacity to ask the city to grant it $100,000 toward the needed environmental cleanup projected for the site. Now, the city has a revised request for proposals open through mid-July, seeking just $100,000 for the property — a mathematical head-scratcher that comes in $50,000 below than Harborlight's net package, even with the city's cleanup grant.
Look, Harborlight has more than established itself not only as a credible developer obviously making strides in the fight to expand communities' affordable housing stock, but as one that works well with those communities.
It's a shame that Gloucester officials seem unwilling to work with it. Let's hope that changes, real soon.