GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 1, 2012

Letter: City's harbor vision out of focus


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Why is the city of Gloucester, its Waterways Board and some elected officials “hell bent” on establishing a municipal recreational boat “floating marina” in the middle of our harbor in direct competition with existing private, commercial marinas?

The city of Gloucester should not be in the private marina business for several reasons.

At best, we are only providing a seasonal (three months) convenience to visiting yachtsmen, number and frequency unknown, who gas up elsewhere and often bring their own refreshments, leaving behind only their wake!

The larger question is: why are we even considering this floating marina when two thirds of our harbor waterfront from Rocky Neck to Harbor Cove is in economic free fall, dilapidated, underdeveloped, and

unimproved?

I believe this “floating marina” idea is only a ploy to avoid the real problem — the Designated Port Area and Marine Industrial zoning umbrella. I’m told there’s ample mooring space (unpoliced?) and currently vacant unused moorings available inside Ten Pound Island, off Niles Beach, etc. Some owners control multiple paid-for moorings while other citizens pay to be on a waiting list.

The existing mooring situation in Gloucester harbor needs studying.

The new Harbor Walk focuses on a picturesque Harbor Cove, and instantly we’re user friendly. If that’s the thinking, why not provide convenient public use, private marina space and a public restroom downtown? We operated party boats (still a permitted use) from Frontiera’s Wharf next to a busy, commercial fishing harbor and town landing float in 1956? A return to mixed use in our harbor should be today’s priority.

The federal government may impose a 70 percent reduction in next year’s catch share quota, thereby furthering the reduction of our local fleet. There’s also a government scheme to buy out fishing boats. When commercial fishing boats are forced out of business by closures, drastically reduced quotas, and federal buyouts, what are we going to do with a vacant North Atlantic Fish Company’s wharf; a vacant city-owned Producer’s Wharf property; a brand new wharf at the edge of St. Peters Park — for lease for years? How about the encumbered I-4 C-2 parcel; Amero’s Fort Point property; Parisi’s Fort property; and Capt. Joe’s 1,000 foot deep water harbor frontage with 2.6 acres of upland property, once Gorton’s 1940 codfish, redfish and flake yard operation that employed 200 of my Ward II neighbors.

These should be the priorities. City Hall should support our existing harbor owners.

We should not circumvent ways to compete against our own struggling existing waterfront businesses. We need to concentrate our efforts on reducing the blanket harbor DPA/Marine Industrial restrictions, protect and promote existing fish related businesses, and allow the remaining waterfront owners to diversify and develop.

We shouldn’t be seeking federal harbor grants — taxpayer money — for floating marinas and vessel buyouts.

Let private industry work…. invent and invest.

RON GILSON

Gloucester