, Gloucester, MA

December 6, 2012

Editorial: Hotel street data merely shows need for revised planning

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The findings of the Norwood-based BETA Group, the engineering firm that undertook a city-commissioned study of the Beauport Gloucester hotel plans for the former Birdseye site, may come across as jarring, given the level of concern raised regarding parking and street infrastructure needs.

Yet neither the city nor the hotel’s limited liability development company, headed by New Balance owner Jim Davis and Cruiseport Gloucester’s Sheree DeLorenzo, should be surprised when looking closer at the findings.

It doesn’t take an engineer to recognize that the project will command significant street improvements to the section of Commercial Street that will lead to the hotel access point, or that the proposed hotel will need sufficient parking not only for hotel guests, but for visitors attending functions in either the hotel’s banquet halls or restaurant.

Now, with the report in tow, both Beauport Gloucester and city officials can begin to assess how to tackle the problems cited and raised. And unless developers and the city see any of the issues as insurmountable – and there seems no reason to think they are — there’s no reason why this report is threatening the project anymore than the state’s snub of the city’s MassWorks grant request.

By any count, the BETA findings will make the hotel project more costly — and addressing that will largely be up to the developers. While the city is seeking the financing of up to $5 million for the water and sewer line infrastructure improvements, with $600,000 worth of help from Beauport, any improvements in the way of parking and street hotel access should be on the developer’s shoulders. And while there is a context to street improvements benefitting city residents as well, the fact is, the needed curb cuts and any road changes will be designed to clearly serve the hotel and its customers.

But while the BETA report certainly raises red flags that need to be addressed before the project gains approval, they are flags that can, in fact, be addressed, and ones that should have been on the radar screen from the start.

The report clearly puts the proverbial ball in Beauport Gloucester’s court for revising its plans, and it gives city officials time for exploring any street changes as well.

But that’s not a threat to the project – it’s a report that should prove beneficial to all.