, Gloucester, MA


October 15, 2013

Letter: Looking behind Long Beach 'calculations'

To the editor:

In a letter to the editor last week (the Times, Wednesday, Oct. 9), Mel Michaels wrote about a few suggestions regarding the rents to the land lessees at Long Beach.

He invited the reader to “check the math.” I have no quibble with his math; however, I do question the assumptions his math calculations are based upon.

He gives no basis for his assumption that each Rockport property owner is “subsidizing” the rents in the amount of $500 per year or $1,750,000 for all 3,500 property owners.

He gives no basis for his assertion that 5 percent of the lands assessed value is “a commonly accepted rental rate” or even a market rental rate methodology for leasing such land.

He makes the common misassumption that a proposed “market appraisal” will clarify the “market rent.”

We do not need to spend $50,000 to $80,000 as has been preliminarily reported by the town administrator to conduct an appraisal, when this is already being done annually in compliance with state law by our assessors and the appraisal consulting firm they use to assist them.

What is needed is a “market study of methodologies for deriving rents” charged to renters of “comparable” town-owned land elsewhere around the country.

The conclusion as to what Rockport should charge is complicated by the very nature of comparability of such properties and by the uniqueness of our property, not some arbitrary percentage. There are many other aspects of the master lease, but this one of rent methodology transcends them all.

Finally, despite the town bylaws authorizing the Board of Selectmen to issue leases unilaterally, they are attempting to get citizen input in various ways. When they get by the Phase I short-term lease revisions, Phase II will emerge and the options here will clearly involve voter participation.



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