GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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February 6, 2013

City 'summit' eyes waterfront growth

With debate and questions surrounding its I-4, C-2 property, the former Birdseye site, and other marine industrial issues, Gloucester city officials and more than 100 others will step back Thursday to take a fresh look at the waterfront’s so-called big picture.

A second Gloucester Marine Summit — coming 15 months after the initial gathering hosted in November 2011 — is set for Thursday beginning at 8 a.m. at Cruiseport Gloucester, with exhibits, demonstrations, talks and workshops on issues ranging from the effect of climate change on the oceans and ocean economy to specific ideas about fisheries and new waterfront innovations.

“The whole idea is that we use this to seed programs and ideas that we will work on for the next year,” Sarah Garcia, the city’s harbor planning director, said Tuesday.

“We can talk about the availability of grants, and perhaps how to plug some smaller companies here into major grants that can bring new ideas to our waterfront,” she said. “We can talk about whether we want or need any new city ordinances regarding development or even offshore development. What are the different things we can do to go forward?”

Speakers will include Amy Cannon of The Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, who will address the topic of “Green Chemistry & Biomimicry: The Next Generation of Opportunity,” and lunch speaker J. Ru Morrison, executive director of the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems, based in Rye, N.H.

Both of their talks will touch on climate change, and what Garcia notes is not evolutionary, but “disruptive change” in the oceans especially posing questions for communities such as Gloucester, whose economy remains significantly tied to the sea.

While the city partnered with the Metropolitan Regional Planning Council, and received federal funding through the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration for its 2011 summit, the city is essentially going it alone this time, with some support from Endicott College, which launched its Commercial Street campus in 2012, and the Ocean Alliance, which owns and is continuing to redevelop the historic former Tarr & Wonson Paint Factory on Rocky Neck.

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