GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

August 3, 2013

Letter: Why is Cressy’s Beach again denied CPA support?


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

For the second year in a row, funding for the restoration of Cressy Beach has been denied by the city’s Community Preservation Committee.

In March, Community Preservation Act funding was requested to restore Cressy Beach located at historic Stage Fort Park in the City of Gloucester. However, in spite of its historic background and its recreation value, the request for funds to restore the beach was denied once again.

Cressy Beach once known as Long Beach, Crescent Beach and Stage Fort Beach is one of the oldest if not the oldest beach in the City.

In 1623, members of the Dorchester Company of England organized by Reverend John White came and settled at Stage Fort, the name derived from fishing flakes or stages as they are more commonly called by the English for the curing of fish.

In the 1950s and ‘60s, I remember all to well what a beautiful beach Cressy was. If inner city people did not go to Good Harbor, they went to Cressy beach with its lifeline to the raft about 50 yards out.

The condition of the beach as I remember it was clean and sandy. However, through the years it has deteriorated due to sand erosion caused by wave surges and storm waves.

In 1935, in an effort by then-Mayor Weston Friend to protect Fisherman’s Field — now called Sam Parisi Field — a wall was erected that as it turns out was the beginning and end of Cressy Beach as we once knew it.

The wall thought to protect the field ended up causing the demise of the beach. The wall acted as a backstop enhancing wave reflection and accelerating the erosion of sand from the beach. Scientific evidence shows that hard structures such as stone barriers reflect wave energy that causes greater erosion. Sand backed by a seawall will disappear due to the scouring of wave action and rising ocean levels.

In the case of Cressy Beach, it took 78 years for all of its sand to erode and leave it in the condition that exist today.

I strongly feel that the city of Gloucester, as steward, fiduciary and custodian of city’s assets, has a moral and legal obligation to restore and maintain Cressy Beach on behalf of its taxpayers.

Stage Fort Park was taken by eminent domain in 1898 for the enjoyment of its residents, and as such, the city took on the maintenance responsibility. The estimate’s of the project to restore the beach as functional is a mere $149,000 that, in my opinion, is a drop in the bucket for one of three locations that generate over $1.7 million dollars in parking revenue for the city of Gloucester.

The proposed beach restoration is beneficial to the city in many ways; namely, it will preserve and enhance the character of the city by upgrading a city asset; secondly, it will serve more than one CPA purpose in that in addition to restoring and preserving a historic site, it will add another beach to the City’s inventory of beach’s to visit; thirdly, the cost benefit is most favorable to the city.

By making the beach functional, it follows that people will use it thus generating additional parking revenue for the city. For example, if 20 more cars a day park at the Stage Fort parking lot at $15 for 90 days, it would generate an additional $27,000 annually to the city coffers and the city would be paid back its investment in 5 1/2 years.

Again, keep in mind that in 2012, the City generated a total of 1.7 million dollars for the City’s general fund in parking revenue from Stage Fort Park, Wingaersheek Beach and Good Harbor Beach.

If you feel the way I do on restoring this beautiful city asset, I ask that you please let the Mayor, the city Councilors and the members of the Community Preservation Committee know that you believe this is a worthwhile investment for the city of Gloucester.

ROBERT B. RYAN

Blake Court, Gloucester