GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 24, 2013

Editorial: Don't rush into Long Beach decision


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — Three days after a lengthy Saturday “discussion” meeting, Rockport’s selectmen will gather again tonight (Town Hall, 7 p.m.) to talk about the future of leases for Long Beach tenants.

And there is clearly some sentiment for once again extending the leases for another 10 years or more. Selectwoman Eliza Lucas said she’s concerned about “the message” the town would be sending by offering only short-term leases, while Sarah Wilkinson suggested Saturday that “what we’ve done for the past 110 years has worked well.”

Has it? Not for town taxpayers, if seems. And if selectmen are worried about sending a “message” to Long Beach tenants, what message indeed would they be sending to town taxpayers if they extend lease agreements that may still be far below fair market value event with rent hikes, while tenants reel in cash by subletting their houses on town-owned land?

Indeed, board members might do well to heed the words of member – and attorney — Wilhelmina Sheedy-Moores, who wonders whether the town should remain in the role of landlord at all.

But above all, board members cannot decide on a course based on what’s in the past; they must do so based on the future, and the future not only of the tenants, but the financial future of the town as a whole. That means not rushing to judgment tonight.