No doubt you’ll be reading many round ups and recaps of this past year.
I’ve been thinking about 2012’s most memorable moments from the perspective of the mayor’s desk and capture the Top 10 here.
The Weather: A snowless winter combined with a sunny summer made for a spectacular weather year. We saved probably $1 million in our annual snow and ice bill, and we enjoyed record beach revenues. We also dodged the worst of the regional storms that came roaring through.
Free Cash: For the third year in a row, we generated strong free cash. The weather factors really helped. We can’t count on weather like that so we won’t budget on it, but when it goes our way, we are given the opportunity to sock money away in the rainy day fund, and invest in much-needed capital improvements around the city and our schools.
Memorial Day: Well, let’s not dwell on this and the protest that took place. But I will say it was memorable.
Rezoning Birdseye property: The City Council approved the rezoning of the area of Commercial Street known as the Birdseye property. This property has long been the subject of redevelopment, and with the zoning in place, and a well-financed business plan, 2012 marks the turning point for this property.
No bids on I-4, C-2: We issued a Request for Proposals for the development of 65 Rogers St., or I-4, C-2, and were sorely disappointed with no responses whatsoever. In the meantime, the parcel continues to be put into productive use as evidenced by the cars that park there, thus relieving parking pressure in downtown.
Chief Smith: We welcomed Fire Chief Eric Smith who moved here with his family from Michigan in order to take the reins of the Gloucester Fire Department. With his leadership, the cooperation of the department, and additional funding from the city, we are starting to see outskirt stations open more frequently.
Chief Campanello: We also welcomed Police Chief Lenny Campanello who has stepped into a very busy department but hasn’t missed a beat. To hear him tell it, he has dealt with an earthquake, hurricane, SWAT-team response situation, murdered-dog-for-heroin case, motor-vehicle fatalities, two stabbings, and all the other issues that arise in a busy police department.
Harborwalk Opening: We had a very successful ribbon-cutting and kick off to the Harborwalk. The Harborwalk is not a drive-by experience. You have to immerse yourselves in the stories of Gloucester as told on the granite markers, and make your way around the working waterfront, and appreciate the authenticity of Gloucester.
Groundbreaking for Newell Stadium: We also broke ground for the reconstruction of Newell Stadium. All the pieces fell together in 2012 for this project, and it is a model of a public / private partnership. The city put up $1.5 million in challenge funding. The state contributed a $500,000 grant. New Balance donated $500,000. Many other corporate sponsors are participating, and hundreds of individuals have donated amounts large and small.
Wind Turbines: The three wind turbines are probably the most memorable thing of all in 2012. So many of us were captivated by the sheer engineering marvel they represented from their offloading at Cruiseport to their construction. 2,000 people came to the site and signed their name to the blades, feeling proud of the city and our commitment to clean energy.
And like the wind turbines that are now fixtures on our skyline, many of these Top Ten moments of 2012 are sure signs of progress and change in the city.
A very Happy New Year to you!
Carolyn Kirk is mayor of the city of Gloucester.