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.


  • Attaboy Joey…you speak the truth…and Captain Sandollar works hard to help the waterfront…


  • Commie bureaucrats? What, did I tune in to 1953?


  • Great post. Very informative in an area that not all of us understand as you do. It should be obvious that people who have intimate knowledge of the port and its history are necessary to help guide and inform the Council.


  • It’s hard to believe that Sefatia Romeo does not understand the waterways.. One of the best city councilors ever..Joey keep up the good work.Charlene


    • While Sefatia may understand quite a bit and way more than most there’s no people more knowledgeable about what is going on on the waterfront than people who directly earn their living from it.
      That’s not in any way shape way or form a slight against Sefatia and as much as Sefatia understands not all the councilors have her experience.

      There are people who interact and live and die by the decisions they make on the waterfront- the fishermen, marine construction people, marina operators, and those people are at their jobs 40-100 hours a week interacting on the waterfront for entire lives and those are the people who should make up the Waterways Board to advise the politicians. To disband it and put the decisions in the hands of a bunch of people who may be well intentioned but simply don’t have the first hand knowledge from years and years of interactions on the waterfront is just crazy to me.

      Think of it this way- Peter Bent who is a loss to the Waterways Board for sure was on the waterfront his whole life. He talks to on a daily basis at Browns at least a hundred people a day. In and out and interactions be it financial or seeing how someone operates their boat or how difficult it is to get a permit or what happens when someone abandons a boat on his property. So he has first hand experience for many many many years of the pain and struggle and victories of what happens because over all of those interactions it directly has impacted him.
      A City Councilor no matter how well intentioned who hasn’t worked on the waterfront or had to feel personally the financial impacts or frustration of say an abandoned boat on a their property, or how to deal with transient boaters in a real world experience and how much money they do or don’t spend or which people are really using the harbor and in which ways, they just cannot comprehend it like someone with a lifelong DIRECT connection directly impacting them.

      Again this is no way a slight to any councilor, this is not a slight to any politician. This is just reality.

      Politicians can’t be expected to know everything there is to know about every industry coming to or already participating in Gloucester. That’s why the Waterways Board is there and should be comprised of people with direct intimate knowledge of its workings.

      If I was going to have to make a decision about Semiconductors you can bet I’d be listening to people from Varian before I made a decision. If I was going to have to make a decision about Health issues as a City Councilor or Mayor you can be rest assured I’d want to have people trained for as long as possible in the health field advising me. THAT is the reason to have the board in the first place, to populate it with the most qualified people to guide decisions, the people directly living it for lifetimes.


      • In no way did I mean to demean the need of a board…It’s very important to have qualified,knowledable “city councilors” on pun intended! Where’s Vito Calumo?CC


  • From Brooklyn i am able to keep up with all the goings on in my community thanks to Joey and all the GMG contributors. Thank you for this super informative post that shines a light on the importance of the Waterways Board. Reading this post led to Tony Gross’s response letter in the GDT, outlining some recent accomplishments and goals of the Waterways Board:


  • Right on Joey!!!

    What would be the best way to communicate this to the city?
    I feel this should be done before it’s too late for the waterfront.


  • What a great piece Joey, very informative easy to follow. Thank you


Leaving a comment rewards the author of this post- add to the discussion here-

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s