GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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April 25, 2013

State study backs Essex 'Riverwalk' project

ESSEX — Town officials first approached the state’s Seaport Advisory Council in 2010 to seek $155,000 for a boardwalk feasibility study.

Now, that study is in, and the by the Center for Economic Development and Sustainability at Salem State University indicates that the proposed Essex riverwalk or boardwalk is not only feasible, but would benefit Essex in a number of ways.

“...It is our professional opinion, that the proposed Riverwalk is feasible and would offer positive potential economic, cultural and historic impacts for Essex,” the report reads.

The report also notes the recent Route 133 improvements, historic and cultural capabilities, paired with the attractions of neighboring Gloucester and Ipswich, make Essex a good candidate for the project.

The report suggests dredging for at least 2,200 feet of the Essex River, with total project pegged at an estimated cost of $1,020,045.

In addition, the report notes that the river is mainly used for public or transient access, recreational docks, marinas and cruises, according to the report, though the number of clamming licenses has also fluctuated throughout the years, there were 106 licenses in 2009 and only 51 last year.

The positive economic impact could hit Gloucester and Ipswich, as well, the document states, as more docks and boat slips will directly impact immediate restaurants and stores in the area, in addition to marinas providing gasoline and maintenance services.

Robert Coviello of the Essex Merchants group said Wednesday that he’s glad the report recognizes that the town has a unique culture, history, location and beautiful scenery.

“All of those things have proven our credibility as a community that deserves this project,” Coviello said.

He added the town has worked hard to build up its cultural, economic and historic status, the town is not simply asking for a handout; a portion of the town was recognized last fall with the state Cultural Council’s designation of an Essex River Cultural District, one of four on Cape Ann but one of still just 15 across the state.

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