, Gloucester, MA


May 5, 2013

Letter: Essex voters deserve more than piecemeal Conomo 'plans'

To the editor:

Much has been written about the articles regarding Conomo Point that Essex voters will consider at Town Meeting.

I’d like to offer some thoughts about the work done by the Selectmen and the Conomo Point Planning Committee over the last year.

My goal upon election to CPPC at last year’s Town Meeting was to provide the voters with a set of multiple and distinct design concepts, accompanied by clearly presented analysis of finances and other impacts, so that people could make a choice. This is a practical and politically necessary approach to the problem, the solution of which requires a clear idea of the voters’ preference.

The planning and public outreach process undertaken over the last year held out some promise that this would be the case, but the outcome, as embodied in the Brown Sardina report, the “Central Conomo Point” zoning article, and the Selectmen’s overall approach to the issue, falls short.

While I understand the difficulty of the Selectmen’s position and their need to hold many issues in mind —especially the financial issue — as they proceed on CP matters, it is clear to me that their policy hasn’t deviated much from that articulated in position papers produced over the last 1-2 years, a policy that hasn’t been affirmed by the voters.

The planning consultant, Sardina Brown, was constrained from the start from consideration of full or aggressive removal options from North Conomo Point, and anything but a very slow approach to implementation. The result is a single “master plan” concept, with a three-phase implementation plan, not multiple design concepts to debate and choose among.

Moreover, the concept on offer is, for most people, a headscratcher. Sardina Brown, as many people have pointed out in the public forums, misunderstood and over-estimated the architectural value of the “front” houses on Northern Conomo Point. As a result, those are spared any consideration of removal, while houses on the back side are identified for removal.

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