Long Beach leaseholders hope to purchase public land under cottages

Many residents who lease the land their cottages are on at Rockport’s Long Beach told town selectmen they want to purchase the land from the town when their leases expire in 2023.

ROCKPORT — The majority of Long Beach leaseholders seem to be in agreement — they want to purchase the land underneath their cottages.

The Board of Selectmen met with leaseholders at a public meeting on Thursday to discuss what comes next after their leases are up in 2023.

All 32 leaseholders who spoke at the meeting said they were extremely interested in purchasing the town’s land.

Steve Sheehan of 12 Long Beach, the first to speak at the meeting, said the funds from the sales would benefit to all residents of Rockport. More town funds on hand may reduce the need for Proposition 2 1/2 overrides to fund Rockport Public Schools, he argued.

“We are available to the board,” said Antoinette Guigliano of 68 Long Beach. “I think its going to be a back and forth process. Several of us are willing to work with you to determine facts or be a sounding board for things that could be a potential way forward with purchasing the land on beach.”

Stacy Ho of 26 Long Beach said he was interested exploring all options — which include improving the seawall, and keeping Long Beach open for for everyone — that would allow his family to stay in their cottage.

Rajeed Bhalla of 44 Long Beach and Rob Berry of 103 Long Beach each said they believe the Long Beach Options Committee is unfairly centering its research around the idea that global warming will take out the cottages.

“I’m not arguing against global warming,” said Bhalla, “but it doesn’t mean we can’t innovate to protect Long Beach.”

Many of the people who spoke at the meeting discussed their families' extended history on Long Beach. Three leaseholders said their cottages had been in their families’ name for over a century. Mary Jane Brown of 72 Long Beach said her cottage was purchased by her great-grandmother in 1921 at a distress sale for $100.

“Long Beach is unique,” said Marcy Beeman of 144 Long Beach. “No one has seen anything like it, and we want to contribute in anyway we can to continue the preservation of it.”

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or mcronin@gloucestertimes.com.

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