In Defense of The Waterways Board
I respect our City Council, respect our Mayor and respect our Harbormaster.
The editorial in the Gloucester Daily Times asking to scrap the Waterways Board is not a good idea.
Let me explain why. City Councils have elections every 2 years. City Councilors come and go and while they mostly have our best interests in mind they just don’t have the history and knowledge of the rules and regulations and past grudges and what works on the waterfront like people that derive their income from it.
There are people like Tony Gross who have worked on the waterfront most of his life. He also sits on the School Committee and knows processes. Tony knows from dealing with people on the waterfront all his life who the players are and what regulations are in place that have restricted progress and also the ones that have insured stability.
Not having a Waterways board and handing over all the decisions to people who don’t have long terms relationships with the harbor is just crazy.
If some people have their feelings hurt because a cockamamie idea to have the public finance a floating marina which will have to be maintained with public dollars then good riddance. If people can’t see that a floating marina in the middle of the harbor would compete with existing waterfront properties who would love to be able to finance the transient dockage needs and finance it with private dollars (read not public dollars) and maintain the private docks with private dollars then good riddance as well.
If there is a problem with perceived lack of progress maybe, just MAYBE the PROCESS OF GETTING THINGS APPROVED MIGHT BE LOOKED AT AND STREAMLINED.
How about writing an editorial calling for the elimination of layers upon layers of bureaucracy and allowing the waterfront some relief from antiquated Designated Port Area (DPA) zoning regulations in a time when our fleet has hyper-consolidated and we read daily in the Paper Richard Gaines’ articles about cutbacks, the latest calling for yet another 70 plus percent reduction in landings.
Yes there needs to be more transient dockage but those needs can be filled with the many empty piling fields around the harbor which if the zoning was changed would allow for the private waterfront sector to pay for these needs being built and maintained instead of always looking for government handouts to get things done.
So calling for the Waterways Board to be disbanded is no solution. We need people who have intimate knowledge of the port and its history to help guide and inform the Council as to what is going on.
No City Councilor could ever be expected to understand what is really going on in the waterfront and all the rules and zoning that is hindering responsible development because their livelihoods don’t depend on it like many of the members of a good Waterways Board filled with Fishermen, Recreational Marina Owners, Lawyers who understand waterfront zoning, Marine Construction Company Owners, and Waterfront Tourism People.
What you don’t need on the Waterways Board are commies who think that the government should pay for everything and look at private waterfront development as if it was the devil because god forbid someone might make money.
The fishermen should have places to tie their boats and they do. With the drastic consolidation of the fleet the upland portions of these properties should have relief from the archaic zoning of the DPA so these properties can be reinvigorated with private (read not public) dollars so they could pay more money to the City in taxes. Everyone wins.
I may not agree with the Waterways Board 100% of the time but realistically you never could expect to. However with a Waterways Board filled with people that derive their income from the waterfront and have intimate knowledge of it you will be FAR better served than letting a bunch of commie bureaucrats that only are looking for the public sector and public dollar projects to get things done instead of the people who control the purse strings and have to risk their own capital.