To the editor:
I am one of many residents of Ward 2 who feels strongly about seeing a favorable disposition and reuse of the historic Birdseye property.
We do not think that a hotel even comes close to an appropriate use for this landmark location.
Gloucester needs and deserves a creative, thoroughly vetted urban planning solution for this critical location — a solution that includes well-paying jobs (which is likely not the case in the hospitality industry) new business, a vital and dynamic work force bringing national and possibly international attention to the city and its resources, and including amenities for the community at large.
Right across the harbor, the Ocean Alliance is setting an example of conscientious, enlightened development. We can learn from them and even consult them on uses for this parcel.
It's high time Gloucester broke the cycle of generic, commercial development of our most precious urban resources.
Look at the monstrosity that was allowed to anchor the foot of Main Street opposite the harbor, the introduction to our downtown — or the debacle called Gloucester Crossing.
With a little investment in intelligent planning, we could have had an award-winning, multi-use project benefiting the whole community, rather than courting a developer whose resume boasts of converting junk yards to income-producing goldmines.
That's a perfect example of the short-sightedness for which our city is becoming known, instead of taking the lead on Cape Ann as a place where quality of life matters and developers can't buy their way in.
We don't expect our municipal leaders to be experienced urban planners, but we do expect them to recognize when to enlist the services of experts for guidance in an historic development whose outcome affects our entire community. Please let us learn form Gloucester Crossing.
Birdseye can be a test case. Why not have the city create a request for proposals in partnership with the owner and invite architects and planners to submit their best proposal for development on the site. It would cost very little to do, if owner and city joined forces and committed to excellence rather than expediency.
The possibilities are limited only by imagination and willingness to aim for the best. A hotel can be located elsewhere downtown. (As well as in Gloucester Crossing). The Birdseye property should be marine-related with a component of public use.
I hope all the city councilors will ensure that the Birdseye parcel and the city of Gloucester receive the world-class design proposal they deserve.
Pine Street, Gloucester