GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 4, 2013

I-4, C-2 talks shift to invitational workshops

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The city is continuing its efforts to find a use for the infamous I-4, C-2 waterfront parcel it owns on Rogers Street.

That future of that 1.89-acre waterfront parcel has been the topic of incessant debate and political maneuvering since the city purchased it for $1.5 million in June 2010. Yet, it still sits vacant, primarily used for parking and offering nary a hint of the potential city leaders trumpeted when they made it part of the city’s real estate holdings more than three years ago.

While those winds of debate buffet the parcel from above, below the surface, the gears of government are grinding on.

“It’s a messy, ambiguous process,” Don Perkins, the president of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, said Tuesday after convening an invitation-only workshop with about 30 community members on the potential mix of uses for a multi-tenant ocean development center at the site. “I don’t have sound bites for you today.”

The city, at a cost of $62,749, hired the Portland, Maine-based GMRI in September to organize three invitation-only workshops to help develop a list of potential ocean-related, multi-tenant concepts for the site.

It did so largely on the strength of GMRI’s success in developing its marine research and education facility on a 5.5-acre site on the Portland waterfront that opened in 2005, as well as the city’s pre-existing utilization of GMRI’s independent expertise on fisheries-related science.

The Portland center’s tenants include GMRI and its $18 million research lab; the U.S. Coast Guard; the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences; two Scottish companies, one involved in renewable energy consulting and the other in aquaculture veterinary services; and a website and interactive kiosk design company.

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