Sunday, March 17, 2013

Beauport Hotel Oral Presentation, March 12, 2013

Beauport Hotel Oral Presentation 3/12/13
Tonight, our city, our citizens, and you, our elected city councilors find ourselves at a crossroad. Tonight, you are being asked to make a profound far-reaching decision, a decision that could ultimately shape a new economic future, positively impacting the financial foundation of our city for decades to come.
I’ve witnessed our waterfront activity over 70 years, from the Great Depression of the 1930s to our peak world-wide fish production of the ‘40s and ‘50s. I’ve seen it all. Today we have come full circle, and once again, our fishing industry is in the doldrums, only this time the forecast guarantees a dire economic outcome.
In the ‘30s and ‘40s, Gloucester citizens were optimistic. A new government-supported community fish pier came on line. Investment in fishing vessels continued (even during those depression years) while hundreds of experienced fishermen and supporting wharf workers looked forward to harvesting a limitless unregulated fish resource from Cape Ann to the Canadian Maritimes.
Today we cope with world-wide fishing regulations and our own federal government’s draconian cuts to already reduced fishing quotas. Our few fishermen are leaving the industry. A diminishing handful of boats and no new shore side investment is today’s norm. All this, while over 70% of our harbor is economically handcuffed by an outmoded Designated Port Area (DPA) regulation, intentionally designed to shut down any investment other than those fish related…AND THERE ARE NO FISH! Why is it that Boston, New Bedford, and other nearby ports, are developing on their waterfronts, unrestrained by DPA-type restrictions, while Gloucester with acres of undeveloped public and private waterfront marks time?
1. Fish can be processed anywhere. That was established over 50 years ago when Booth Fisheries left Gloucester and relocated on I-95 North in N.H.
2. Any existing fish related businesses presently located on prime Harbor Cove water frontage can operate anywhere and probably more economically. Cape Pond Ice Co. recently succumbed to this known reality.

3. All existing waterfront fresh fish businesses, including the two fish auction houses, ideally, could be RELOCATED to the community fish pier currently operating at 50% capacity.

4. Eel grass beds, modest tidal surge, alleged industry-related offensive odors, noise pollution, and falsely forecasted warnings of traffic congestion, are all “red herrings”, invented by the opposition to stonewall this hotel development.

5. Opponents of this hotel project have pulled out every stop. Their letters have failed to make their case, submitting negative comments, often outright falsehoods in substantiating their opposition. Young Fort opponents, born in the ‘60s, and property owners born in the early ‘80s, describe a bygone era, a neighborhood industrial activity reminiscent of the ‘40s and ‘50s, years before they were born. These writings, “lacking credibility”, attempt to discourage any new outside development. These opponents represent the status quo; change is not acceptable to them. They have a “good thing going” and they want to keep it that way!

6. A hotel on this prime central harbor location is the highest and best use for this run-down, obsolete property. It will improve, clean up, and attract both locals and visitors to a rediscovered Pavilion Beach.
This hotel proposal should be approved for all of Gloucester. It is a long overdue, once in a lifetime, economic shot in the arm and represents a one-time capital expenditure that far exceeds the total collective waterfront investments over the last 70 years. It is a win, win proposition. I remind you tonight…..A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS. I IMPLORE YOU TONIGHT……APPROVE THIS HOTEL PROJECT!
Ron Gilson

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