GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

July 17, 2013

Editorial: No time for hotel blame game

The erection of a chain link fence at the planned Beauport Gloucester LLC hotel site is raising a lot of eyebrows.

But while the value of the fence seems questionable — it would prevent large trucks from entering the site, but does not block beach access and is easily navigable by cars and pedestrians alike — the more questionable stand is the one taken by Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who couldn’t resist “tweeting” Monday that the less-than-aesthetic fence is in place due to legal challenges from Mortillaro Lobster Co. and the Port Community Alliance, which she sees as delaying the project.

That, quite simply, is a bunch of malarkey. The delays in the city’s Fort infrastructure project, a roughly $8 million water and sewer upgrade prefacing the hotel construction itself, are primarily traced to the city itself. That’s because, as Public Works Director Mike Hale conceded, city officials still don’t have their “shovel-ready” plans in place for the work. And that – not the challenging lawsuits — is the reason the city essentially lost the $3-plus million state grant geared toward the project.

The mayor is absolutely right in hoping that chain link fence around a portion of a derelict eyesore doesn’t stay up as long as the last such barrier – the fence that closed off the infamous I-4, C-2 site off Rogers Street for more than two decades before the city bought it in 2010.

But she and others should stop playing the blame game and focus more on what the city must do to move the redevelopment of this site – and, for that matter, the still-vacant I-4, C-2 property — forward.

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