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May 5, 2013

Letter: Rockport Planning Board candidate makes his case

To the editor:

My name is Herman Lilja, and I am a candidate for an open seat on the Rockport Planning Board.

I was born in Pigeon Cove and attended elementary school in the Cove followed by 7th and 8th grades in Rockport. I attended Gloucester High School and graduated in 1961. I have a doctoral degree in biochemistry and pursued a professional career in toxicology and drug development.

My wife was also raised in Rockport. After many years of living away from Rockport and Massachusetts, we could think of no other place where we would like to retire except Rockport given the picturesque nature of the town.

My professional career in science may sound as if my background does not prepare me for a position on the Planning Board. This would be correct, if it were not for the influence of my father and his profession.

My father was a contractor whose business built many homes on Cape Ann and two of the motels in Rockport as well as renovating many homes and restaurants on Cape Ann. I had the opportunity to visit these work sites and the architects involved in these projects.

I heard the concerns of neighbors situated around these sites as Rockport changed in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. I well remember the appearance of Rockport in that era and noted the changes in the landscape both then and as my wife and I returned to Rockport multiple times each year prior to my retirement and permanent return in 2010.

Some would say that all the changes to Rockport over the years impact negatively on the town. Others realize that it is not only Rockport that is changing, but every other community of a similar nature.

Some see the influx of wealth as a negative with the ability of some to completely transform locations to satisfy their desires. This has always been the case in Rockport as industrialists and executives from major corporations came with their wealth in the 50’s and 60’s and transformed the fields and docks in Rockport and the water front property in both Rockport and Pigeon Cove. We are experiencing a continuation of this process at present that is alarming to some and profitable and exciting to others.

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