, Gloucester, MA

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September 25, 2013

Letter: Long Beach solution needs long-range look

To the editor:

This is an open letter to the Rockport selectmen:

I am writing with regard to the Long Beach lease issue.

I have been involved in this issue for the past 20 years both professionally, personally and through my service as a selectman. The issues before you now are similar, yet distinct from, those we faced as a board ten years ago.

As in our sister community Essex, the Department of Environmental Protection started fining Rockport for the pollution of the groundwater and Saratoga Creek, with the only option the provision of a sanitary sewer system.

The politics of skewering the south end of town and preserving the fabric of the community both on the beach and off were emotional and on the verge of disintegrating into court actions where there would be no positive outcome.

The rents were doubled, tied to inflation, and the cottage owners assessed for the sewer work, and an agreement with Gloucester for treatment of the waste was crafted. This time it’s worse, as the environmental concerns are permanent, and ever changing, as are the political and financial realities that face our town.

It is clear to me now as it was not 10 years ago, Long Beach as it once was is no longer viable. One thing is clear, the families who live on Long Beach are a permanent part of our community.

For the most part, the cottage owners are taxpaying, community driven, environmentally conscientious, residents who care deeply about the beach and have been good stewards of the land leased to them. The beach community is an integral part of Rockport, and will have to adapt to what nature has in store, and the needs of the community.

As the Board of Selectmen, you are entrusted with the custodianship of our communities lands, and I would hope that you proceed deliberately, and plan for the next 100 years — a difficult thing in these times of instantaneous communication, public skepticism, and immediate financial needs.

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