So it is becoming clearer that our two mayors, Mayor Greg and Mayor Jill, have already made up their minds that Gloucester will knuckle under to the state orders to squeeze this Transit Overlay District —The TOD — into our downtown to usher in our new era as a Regional Metro Hub of Boston, MBTA vassals.
Buttressed by City Councilor Jason Grow, the rush to protect “the free money” is on again. and when the mayoral decision maker, Chief Administrative Officer Jill Cahill, has made up her mind, there is nothing that will change it, not even Mayor Greg Verga. Certainly not Councilor Tracy O’Neil, who rallied her downtown neighborhoods to speak up — she is not considered one of the insiders who has a voice on this issue. But, like Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, she is battling the entrenched powers-that-be, refusing to be quieted by tut-tutting regulars who just wish she’d shut up and allow the city to take the free money bribe and knuckle under to this socialistic state attempt to recast Gloucester in Boston’s image of what we must become.
The two mayors have cast the TOD as a mandate that we are required to bow to. But it’s not. Life will proceed quite nicely, thank you, if we don’t. The consequences if 2,270 new units aren’t added to a half-mile radius from the train station? Oh boo hoo, we could lose development funds to grease the path of developers for future massive projects as it did before for the expansion of the Gloucester Crossing mall and the downtown hotel. They already had their mall TIF and already made a ton of dough but without the “free money” from the state, they sob, they couldn’t count on making their zillions of dollars of future profits. So that’s where the grants we’d lose would go if we don’t TOD-dle into an entirely different city. and there are no restraints on these units. No restrictions on the number or size of units or bedrooms that are now established by state law — they’ll be crammed into buildings, with no parking requirements —it’s a free-for-all demanded by your state. But they claim that developers won’t take advantage, they might not even build all the units. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports on the tsunami of investors rushing to snap up “out-of-town” properties, sometimes sight unseen. Bond funds, well paid professionals with capital to spare, even Chinese real estate funds have become the new landlords. Most don’t upgrade, they just raise rents.
Is this the future we want or need? Councilor Grow is willing to bet our money on it, even if the majority of the city is against it. He will represent Gloucester Planning and Development to the state and will give the keys away, even though the majority of the city is against it. More than one councilor has warned that they’re going to use this process to bring back a number of zoning amendments under different “descriptions,” even though a majority of the city is against it. Whatever happened to “by the people for the people”? Grow is transplanting his California roots and penchant for sprawl into Gloucester — which has little or nothing to do with being part of Greater Boston, where this law’s creators have decided they can empty their overflow cheaply into the hinterland and build more expensive and exclusive Boston properties. and who says that, at way under their 50,000 unit guideline, we are a Major City and Regional Metro Hub? Meanwhile the MBTA will act as grand arbiter of these transplanted lives with their stellar service record of performance. Good luck with that. The MBTA is desperately searching for ways to finance the ticking time bomb that is its future pension liabilities, a bomb of nuclear proportions. Stay tuned for even worse problems.
So, is that what government is all about? Getting the “free money”? Seems like that is the operating premise for local lawmakers Bruce Tarr and Ann-Margaret Ferrante. They are specialists at not rocking the boat, going along with business as usual, which is getting at the “free money.
p” Certainly, the new school high rise college campus posing as an elementary school was predicated on that free money. The looming Gloucester Forum efforts will mostly come down to that. But they will gently pat a questioner of that ethic on the head and say “there, there, let the more mature professionals deal with this.” In other words, go back too sleep, Gloucester.
Well, you better make your future reservation for water truck deliveries to your house because the world is getting dryer, folks, no matter how sweet a lullaby people sing to you on this issue. and you best also put in your order for a flying car because when those 2,270 new units come into play, traffic and parking will become inversely proportional. By then Councilor Grow, Mayor Jill and Mayor Greg, Sen. Tarr and Rep. Ferrante will all be shrugging and saying “who me?” Yes, you.
Speak up, people, write to both mayors and your council President Val Gilman — who has evolved her early opposition — and protect your wonderful city. To the state, we’re just another TOD-dler to be put to bed without a fuss. Wake up, people and start screaming! The city will be way better off without the TOD.
Gloucester resident Gordon Baird is an actor and musician, co-founder of Musician magazine and producer of “The Chicken Shack” community access TV show.