ROCKPORT — The two candidates vying for Rockport’s open Board of Selectmen seat Tuesday night talked parking meters, Long Beach leases, the adjoining seawall and changing demographics during a debate hosted by Cape Ann’s chapter of the League of Women Voters.
Don Campbell Jr. and Eliza Lucas — whose debate in the studio of Cape Ann TV in Gloucester’s Blackburn Industrial Park will be shown several times between now and May 5, leading into the May 7 election — agreed that Long Beach’s seawall was a central issue facing the town, the two had opposing views of its cost.
Noting the estimated $13 million cost of repairing the Long Beach seawall, Campbell noted that, “initial projections, you have to take them with a grain of salt.” He said such a project could very well cost more.
If the project is approved and built, Campbell said the cottage owners would bear some of the fiscal responsibility.
Campbell said he has examined the site.
”There are repairs that need to be done as soon as possible,” he said.
Lucas, meanwhile, said that one of her first goals as a selectman would be to secure federal and state funding for the seawall and other capital improvements.
“If I was on the board, I would be asking a lot of questions and not making a lot of assumptions,” she said. “I wouldn’t assume 12 or $13 million would turn into more; I hope less would be spent.”
She said the town should not be left with the entire bill for the project, nor should the entire amount be incorporated into any lease agreement.
Both candidates agreed with the sediment transport study, which was approved by voters at the Annual Town Meeting and is seen as an important step in the right direction.
Money for new parking meters was also approved at the Annual Town Meeting, and new meters would mean increased rates.