, Gloucester, MA

April 25, 2012

Letter: Play delivers powerful message, warning

To the editor:

I went to "The Annie" theater this past weekend and saw "Six Pairs of Hands," a wonderful play written by students from Regis College.

The play was inspired by the lives of our local fishermen's wives. It told the stories of the wives' triumphs, their struggles, what they have done for our fishing industry and political battles they have fought and won.

Most striking to me was a scene that depicted big, rich developers buying up our waterfront and building hotels, condos and casinos.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the scenery change from a beautiful Gloucester working waterfront landscape to that of hotels, casinos and condos. I felt like I was looking into a crystal ball and seeing Gloucester's future.

This scene to me was a major warning of what Gloucester could become.

Right now before our City Council is a plan to rezone a part of our Marine Industrial land to allow for a luxury hotel on the Birdseye site.

This rezoning, if allowed, will set a precedent for the rest of our waterfront and if we are not careful, that scene from "Six Pairs of Hands" could become a reality for Gloucester.

After the play, one of the Regis College professors told the audience about a fishing village in Sicily that had, at one time, been very similar to Gloucester. Today, that same village has been turned into a posh, luxury tourist destination, and the locals can barely afford to live there and do not even have access to their own beaches!

As I was leaving the play, I was baffled. I couldn't believe that a group of students who aren't even from Gloucester could give us such a powerful warning of what we may become.

But one thing was very clear to me. We had been given an incredible opportunity to see a glimpse of Gloucester's potential future and it is not too late to stop it!

Let's not sell our heritage and our souls to big rich developers. Let's instead support innovative marine industries and keep our waterfront working!

If we build Gloucester for Gloucester, the tourists will still come.

After all, posh, luxury, tourist destinations are a dime a dozen, but there is only one "America's Oldest Seaport!"

Jennifer Johnson

Fort Square, Gloucester