GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

May 11, 2013

Letter: City must address Pavilion 'barrier beach' issues


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

When Port Community Alliance (PCA) first presented scientific evidence (the Godfrey Reports) that the property where Beauport Gloucester LLC proposes to build a luxury hotel is on a barrier beach, and that the footprint is within the historic high water mark, Beauport’s experts denied those claims.

City officials supported Beauport, and we were forced to appeal the city’s decision. The PCA is proud to report the Department of Environmental Protection, as a result of our appeal, has determined the property is, indeed, on a barrier beach (See news story, Page 1) and is, in fact, within the historic high tide mark.

This not only helps prove the accuracy of our scientific data, it should make city officials more skeptical of Beauport’s continued misinformation, such as their photo-shopping images in their presentation at City Hall to deliberately deceive the City Council.

So why is Councilor Tobey calling for an end to our appeal and our opposition to the destruction of our working waterfront? (My View, the Times, Wednesday, May 8)? Even those familiar with Councilor Tobey’s political history are shocked by his calling for citizens to “challenge” those who disagree with his position and “hold them accountable.”

The Godfrey report (available at www.portcommunityalliance.org ), is a detailed scientific study by one of the world’s leading experts on Coastal Zone Management, which shows conclusively the proposed hotel construction, which increases the length of the seawall by 103 feet, will rapidly destroy Pavilion Beach and the fragile eco-system just off it, accelerate the erosion of Stacy Boulevard and endanger surrounding residences and businesses at just a moderate tidal surge.

When we realized city officials were determined to get this hotel built, the Port Community Alliance asked only for a simple modification of a dune-based wall that would protect the resources and a reduction of height so that the building could fit in with the city skyline and neighborhood.

But our elected officials continued to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye, continued to fail to do their fundamental duty of protecting Gloucester residents, businesses and resources. Now the Port Community Alliance and Department of Environmental Protection will, once again, be forced to do their job for them. The fact is, there is a concerted effort by politicians and profiteers to monopolize and gentrify our entire waterfront. The fact is, Beauport, LLC and it’s various other entities and agents have acquired, or expressed interest in purchasing, at least nine properties from the Tavern to Rocky Neck — and those are just the ones we know about.

But take heart, Gloucester, there is a lot to be positive about. The Port Community Alliance is also proud of our association with several exciting new ventures and collaborations which will help solidify our working waterfront:

The Guardians of Gloucester are a group of fisherman, local businesses, scientists, community leaders and nonprofits working together to find new ways to support the Gloucester fishing community.

Oceanic Innovations LLC is developing new technology and processes which will create jobs for fishermen, marine sciences and technology, and seafood marketing.

Gloucester Blue Oceans is working on exciting new innovations in freeze-dried seafood products.

Instead of working to remove marine Industry and the state’s Designated Port Area, shouldn’t city officials be supporting these projects?

In the words of the late, great Joe Garland, “we must get it together and pick up the challenge, and regain our togetherness and our pride or be overrun by interests looking to exploit this magical place for their own interests once more.”

For centuries, our precious working waterfront has provided Gloucester with so much more than just good jobs, it has blessed us with an unrivaled strength of character, pride of community and, indeed, our very identity — which we must not allow to be stripped from us by a handful of politicians and profiteers.

JIM TARANTINO

President, Port Community Alliance