Anyone who has walked Gloucester’s new Harborwalk can see its potential.
That experience will only be enhanced when the granite posts along its 1.2 mile route are all adorned with the historical and educational markers that are supposed to be dotting the walkway. And some business owners in the area traversed by the walk have noted they’re already seeing an increase in foot traffic thanks to the Harborwalk, even before it’s truly finished. While spotlighting Gloucester’s waterfront from St. Peter’s Square to Harbor Loop is at the core of the project, providing an economic boost boost to city businesses along the harbor and elsewhere in the city’s downtown is obviously a primary benefit, so all of that is a good thing.
What’s not so hot at this point is the fact that the Harborwalk, touted by Mayor Carolyn Kirk as being on track to open prior to St. Peter’s Fiesta, the Horribles Parade and the Fourth of July, is still not fully in place. And Public Works Director Mike Hale’s noting the project has covered more than the initial $1.2 million “scope” is a bit worrisome, especially if the added changes have come at an added cost to local taxpayers.
While the project has been funded through a state Seaport Advisory Grant, the costs of this project are not limited to, well, its costs. HarborWalk has brought the removal of a number of parking meters in the city’s Rogers Street lot and on the street before the city has been able to install new parking collection “kiosks” as planned. And, with the Harborwalk inching up its eastern boundary, there’s still no one collecting for parking on the city’s I-4, C-2 property as promised, casting aside even more potential city revenue.
Hale said he hopes the walk is fully completed with the next two weeks, and we hope he’s right. But the city owes residents some answers regarding the walk’s newly incurred costs -- including revenue that’s already been lost this summer while the walk was running overtime.