, Gloucester, MA

May 3, 2013

Letter: Time for decisions on Conomo

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Let’s end the Conomo Point mess now, not stretch it out for another 15-20 years, while both the residents and tenants suffer through the uncertainties and conflicts of trying to make a park in a narrow strip around the edges of an embattled area of residences.

All the options for Conomo Point currently being offered that call for continuing to lease most of the residential lots to the existing tenants just prolong the agony and continue to cost the taxpayers of Essex hugely — $250,000 for lawsuits in fiscal 2014 alone, according to the Finance Committee.

Plus, to meet our commitments to DEP to reduce sewage flows into the Essex River, we have to be the bedroom police — making sure a significant number of these residents reduce the number of people living there.

This is a really awful idea.

It has been a nightmare for over 25 years and many Essex residents have had enough — let’s get this over with a solution that gives us:

A park on the northern Conomo headland — our only Essex Bay access, open to all with improved waterfront access facilities, rest rooms, a function building for event rentals, and improved parking.

A financial plan that will use the estimated $12 million to $15 million in proceeds from land sales in the rest of Conomo Point to build the park, and pay down enough town debt to reduce our annual debt service costs by the amount of the lease and tax revenue we would no longer have. There are no big negative fiscal consequences — the land sales already anticipated will give us the resources to manage this transition and likely be able to afford to fix up our town buildings as well. Look for a handout on the finances at Town Meeting.

A simple resolution to the DEP consent decree issues: taking down the residences on the northern headland means we would end this problem quickly and simply without years of further spending and hassle, amongst ourselves and with the DEP.

Vote “yes” on Article 19 and “no” on Article 10 to prevent further sales at Conomo without a master plan for northern Conomo Point and a financial plan for the proceeds that has been approved by the town meeting.

The selectmen have chosen to exclude town voters from a direct say in the options for northern Conomo point, despite previous votes in town meeting. It is time for voters to tell the selectmen clearly; this is a town decision, not a decision for two or three people to make on their own.

If you agree that town voters should directly decide this controversial issue, vote “yes” on Article 18 - putting the question of a park on Conomo Point on next year’s town election ballot.