, Gloucester, MA

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August 30, 2013

Editorial: Time to free I-4, C-2 site from DPA limits, too

The news that Mayor Carolyn Kirk would back the request from Scott Memhard and his Cape Pond Ice company to be lifted out from under the state’s Designated Port Area development mandates — and the word that local lawmakers Bruce Tarr and Ann-Margaret Ferrante are already working on the legislation to carry out that request at the State House – are welcome signs that officials recognize the problem confronting Memhard and perhaps other waterfront property owners.

Now, we can only hope the City Council next week gives its endorsement to the Cape Pond Ice DPA relief being sought in those quarters by City Councilor and former four-term mayor Bruce Tobey, showing the state that indeed city and local state officials are united in their push to gain the kind of help Cape Pond needs.

But when the council takes up that measure, it should also support Tobey’s second push to have a second property lifted from the DPA’s handcuffs as well; that’s the city-owned I-4, C-2 property, which remains vacant more than three years after the city acquired it for $1.5 million, splitting the cost with the state’s Seaport Advisory Council, which holds sway over the DPA in the first place.

The move to seek DPA freedom for Memhard — and to do so through legislative action — should be a slam dunk with both arms of city government behind it, and with the support of Tarr and Ferrante in Boston.

Kirk is absolutely right in noting the exceptional case to be made for freeing up Memhard and Cape Pond Ice. Thanks to the government-induced and declared “economic disaster” within the fishing industry, Memhard is using roughly just a third of his space along Commercial Street, yet would be precluded by the DPA from converting any more than 50 percent of it to a non-water dependent use, such as a restaurant. And that’s a recipe for financial disaster.

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