GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

July 26, 2013

Editorial: Smokestack work at Tool Co. site is ‘progress’ overdue

OK, it’s understandable that a few Rockport residents might think fondly of the old industrial days, and become sentimental at the sight of workers taking down the crumbling old smokestack on the site of the former Cape Ann Tool Company this week.

But resident and Tool Company neighbor Marie Larsen, who has waged a lengthy battle to have the Pigeon Cove eyesore property cleared, may have put it best when she saw the workers off a giant crane begin to demolish the smokestack Wednesday from the top down. She called it “progress” — and she’s absolutely right.

Indeed, the latest and by far most visible step in the demolition of the former Tool Company structures means more than just another chapter in the saga of this waterfront site. It’s the most definitive sign yet that new property holder Michael Rauseo is taking firm, positive steps toward redeveloping what should be one of Rockport’s most important parcels.

It was interesting to note that Rauseo said this week’s assault on the old smokestack came after Rockport Town Building Inspector Paul Orlando asked him to tackle the smokestack “right away.”

Orlando, after all, denied for years that the entire Tool Company site — a derelict property many saw as a true safety and health hazard and town liability threat — posed any health hazards at all. His failure to force the hand of previous owner Christopher Kaneb likely cost the town and its residents at least two years toward making this property viable once again — and a better revenue generating contributor to the town’s tax base.

But perhaps more than any step to date — including the shifting of town moorings away from the seawall — the work on the smokestack will signal to all town residents that structural demolition is, at long last, picking up steam, and that Rauseo’s positive new vision for the site will soon be able to take shape.

That indeed is “progress” — a form of progress the town should continue to facilitate, and progress that all residents and taxpayers should finally embrace.

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