Wednesday, May 30, 2012

(submitted to Gloucester Daily Times May 8, 2012)

In the seventy years I’ve observed Gloucester’s waterfront, never have we had a more promising opportunity to move this city forward “economically” than Beauport LLC plans for the Birdseye “Fort” hotel site. All the major improvements on our harborfront over the past seven decades do not equal this one 26 million dollar capital investment currently being proposed for one parcel in the Fort. After all the debate and hoopla have been aired; the reality is this Beauport hotel proposal is an economic game changer for Gloucester. It will showcase our harbor.

Over the years Gloucester’s fish business has changed from frozen to fresh. Cutting, packing and freezing every redfish and whiting landed (hundreds of millions of pounds annually) is no longer the process. Today we're primarily cutting an ever diminishing few ground fish for area retail restaurant customers. We no longer store millions of pounds of processed fish for months in cold storage, waiting for the Lenten season. We are not processing fish 24/7, 365 days a year as the opposition would have us believe! That was in 1947 to 1950…before some of the protesters were born!

From our tumbled down Paint Factory, around the entire inner harbor, numerous derelict wharfs await investment. The harbor is dotted with rotten pilings from Capt. Joe’s to the Building Center. The I-4 C-2 parcel has gone begging for 50 years. On the Fort, Good Harbor Fillet moved out and is now out of business at Blackburn Industrial Park. North Atlantic Fish sold out and Amero’s Fort Point, formerly Cape Ann Fisheries, lies fallow. Producer’s property awaits city auction and Sam Parisi’s building is empty of tenants. Do we need any more proof? The handwriting is on the wall. The taxpayers, the realists, are crying out, waiting for relief.

In the court of public opinion, the opposition has not made their case. They’ve called in every doom and gloom anti-advocate from all points of the compass, to no avail. The new greasy pole is up and ready, the carnival has been booked for June. It’s business as usual in the west end; St. Peter’s Fiesta is alive and well!

Finally, Gloucester has a chance to move our waterfront forward with a local investor, private money and a redeeming concept for the economic rebirth of our city. It is Beauport LLC that will jump start Gloucester’s harbor bail out! While posted at Market Basket in early March of this year, over 300 Gloucester citizens signed my petition enthusiastically for this Fort renewal. It’s now time for our city councilors to sign on. Beauport LLC hotel will rightfully be Gloucester’s Motif #1, a window on the harbor! Remember: “A rising tide lifts all boats”.

Ron Gilson

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