Good for Scott Memhard, and good for Cape Pond Ice.
Over the last two years, the city’s failure to find a developer for its I-4, C-2 property, and the government-fueled economic collapse of Gloucester’s fishing industry have turned up the spotlight on the state’s Designated Port Area development restrictions that are choking the potential of the city’s inner harbor waterfront.
But a push by Councilor Bruce Tobey to try to lift the vacant I-4, C-2 site out from under the shackles of the DPA mandates last year went nowhere, with the council stunningly voting 8-1 to leave the regulations be. And while some waterfront property owners have justifiably grumbled about the DPA’s effects on their economic future, no one had done anything about it — until now.
That agent for change is Memhard, who has written to Mayor Carolyn Kirk and is due to meet Wednesday with Kirk, state lawmakers Bruce Tarr and Ann-Margaret Ferrante and others about his formal request to officially lift Cape Pond Ice out from the constraints of the DPA — the first such written request made by a Gloucester business along the harbor.
Caught up in fishing’s federally recognized “economic disaster,” Cape Pond Ice — which once supplied millions of tons of ice to Gloucester’s fishing fleet each year — is now using just roughly a third of its space. Memhard has the property on the market, and would love to carve out a deal by which a buyer and potential developer would lease back the space he needs to operate Cape Pond, which is still a very viable beyond the fishing industry. But he says no one is interested in taking on the property because the DPA mandates would likely preclude, among other things, development of a potential restaurant on site, or any recreational boating dockage.