To the editor:
Well, it's out in the open, at least.
The GDTimes is in favor of the Commercial Street rezoning and the hotel plan — which explains what I believe have been omissions and bias in its reporting.
Saying it after the hearings, in an opinion piece (The Times, special Page 1 editorial, Saturday, March 17), is not inappropriate, but I believe the Times has been biased all along, and that has swayed a lot of opinions in the city of people not connected with the Fort.
I've also looked beyond the year 2012 and the boundaries of our city.
What I have found is an echo of the 1960s Urban Renewal mistakes, like the one that created I-4, C-2.
I'm old enough to remember the vigorous debate between the "obstructionists" and the city leaders who insisted the existing building needed to come down in the name of progress. Economic health is not about pretty, nor is it about additions or accepting "gifts." It is about interdependencies, or symbiotic clusters.
What is more, a hotel is not the same as residences when you are talking mixed use. The very specific location of each entity on the peninsula, as well as the nature of the business, has just as specific an impact on its ability to cope with various environmental changes as have the micro ecosystems on the teeming life of an ocean reef.
None of us have a crystal ball. There are valid arguments for both sides.
The city will eliminate an eyesore and earn taxes with a hotel, sooner rather than later — a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush argument. The marine industrial businesses will have less opportunity for expansion down the Fort and have to deal with tourist traffic and invest in the future, delayed gratification counter argument.
However, in my opinion, the vague and speculative arguments are primarily on the side of the hotel, and the more substantive and strategic arguments are on the side of the hotel opponents, not that they've had equal exposure in the Times. Perhaps it is "depressive realism" but, sadly, the world works that way. The sun will come up the next day whether a hotel is there or not, but things don't always work out for the best.
It is almost as hard to say what will be as what might have been. I speculate that if a hotel takes over that central section of Commercial Street, it will wipe out most of the residences on Beach Court.
The entire section up to Tally's will eventually be gentrified. That's not a bad thing in itself, but the impact on the harbor side of the street will simply be the strangulation of businesses that pay a living wage. That is a very bad thing.
The worst part of this is the timing. With our rapidly accelerating technological advances, we are finally at the end of the Industrial Revolution begun in the 18th century.
As this period gasps its last, we recognize the 21st century as the dawn of the Technological Revolution. No, those new industries aren't clamoring at our doors today, but they could be soon — if we have the right space for them.
Unfortunately, with a hotel at Birdseye, at least for the technological marine innovators who might be interested in Gloucester, there will be no room at the inn.
KAREN FAVAZZA SPENCER
Langsford Street, Gloucester