GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

March 11, 2013

Letter: Hotel project ignores danger to beach, seawall

To the editor:

On March 7, the Planning and Development Committee of City Council approved motions with some conditions that support the building of a 100-room, 61-foot tall hotel on Pavilion Beach.

In doing so, they choose to ignore the recent study by Dr. Paul Godfrey, Professor Emeritus in Biology from UMass Amherst, and someone long recognized as an expert in coastal barrier issues.

Pavilion Beach is now described by some as a “pocket” beach. At the founding of Gloucester centuries ago, this beach was much, much wider, broader, and flatter than now. Historical pictures make clear that this current scrunched beach is only that small because past decades of decisions have shrunk it to its current size. These are development errors that ought not to continue.

Dr. Godfrey’s analysis and report make clear that the past confining of the normal tidal flow in and out of Pavilion Beach has undermined it and indeed also the seawall along Stacy Boulevard. What is clear is that that beach should never have been confined as it was, not by the Birdseye Building, not by its seawall and not by the city’s seawall, and certainly not by a new building and even longer seawall.

While we may not have understood this coastal ecology when those past decisions were made, we do understand them now. And because we understand them now, we must take steps to prevent further damage to that section of beach and the city’s seawall.

The report makes clear that the continued development and confining of that coastal barrier will wreck further havoc on it, the area commonly called the boulevard, Commercial Street and the many successful businesses along it, and even perhaps areas of Harbor Cove should there be continued coastal changes, sea rise, and mega storms such as that of Hurricane Sandy/Nemo/Saturn. Beaches are being undermined and houses destroyed on Plum Island even as I write!

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