Over her six years in office to date, Mayor Carolyn Kirk has seemingly hosted and steered countless “listening posts,” community workshops and other community input sessions, and drawn comments on neighborhood issues from closed fire stations to I-4, C-2 development — with obviously mixed reviews.
But the new slate of “downtown visioning” meetings, which kick off Wednesday with the first of three sessions at 6 p.m. at City Hall’s Kyrouz Auditorium, should hold special interest given their specific focus on the city’s downtown and its future. And that is a future that should generate interest among all sorts of local residents and business owners who deserve to have a voice on any number of proposals.
In the big picture, of course, it’s important that residents contribute to some type of consensus for the Gloucester’s downtown. But any big picture must be developed, like a puzzle, by placing together several specific pieces.
The mayor alluded to some of those pieces in Saturday’s Mayor’s Desk column in Saturday’s Times — including what would become of the police and fire station sites if, as some suggest, the city were to build a new public safety complex on the Fuller School site; and what be the best use of the current Cape Ann YMCA building if the Y moved its headquarters to Fuller?
To that end, we’ll add some others:
Should the city, once and for all, seek to pull all or at least part of its waterfront out from under the state’s Designated Port Area restrictions, easing development of critical hub properties like I-4, C-2?
Should Gloucester look to site a downtown parking garage — perhaps even at the Y site, or the police station site, if those facilities move?
Should the city look to pull out all or at least some of its parking meters, further stamping Gloucester as consumer and business-friendly?
What be the ideal use and best marketing of the Empire building, which remains privately owned, but remains the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to Gloucester’s downtown development potential?
Any and all of these ideas — and no doubt many more — are worth discussing. And any and all residents and especially downtown business owners deserve a chance to be heard.
That chance comes tomorrow night, with other workshops to follow in the months ahead.
If you care about Gloucester’s downtown, here’s you chance to have a voice in its future. Don’t pass it up.