The Luxury Building Boom Train

Gordon Baird

Mary Blood Mellen (1819-1886) Sunset Calm off Ten Pound Island Light, Gloucester, c. 1850s

Mary Blood Mellen (1819-1886) Sunset Calm off Ten Pound Island Light, Gloucester, c. 1850s

We’ve all recently read about the Cheryl Soones plan to build 4 houses on “the wrong side” of Atlantic Ave., i.e. the ocean side of The Back Shore. But really, why stop there?
There are a myriad of other proposals that could and should be vetted towards the great and holy objective of making money, you know, the almighty dollar, the beast of Mamon – to worship at the feet of dumptrucks full of cold, hard cash, driven up and dumped at the feet of the investors. In this era of Donald Trump, we invite readers to come up with their own ideas of other profitable building ventures in Gloucester to pump up the tax base and class up the place by bringing more of the “1%” into our ranks. Let’s start with the obvious: a full service Yacht Marina at the Lighthouse on Eastern Point. The Feds are only using the tippy-top part and the rest of it is going entirely to waste. The tower would make a heckova bar. Kick back with a Cuban cigar and a snifter of $200-a-glass brandy and watch the fish struggling their little lives away. The yachts and super yachts could tie up right alongside the actual breakwater (on the inside, of course).There would be a shuttle to the squash and paddle tennis courts at the end of the big, suddenly important Dogbar. It could be very profitable and could solve the problem of people who want to fish off the breakwater since there would no longer be room for them with the luxury cabanas and their personal bars, massage tables and big screen TV’s. And they could gaze right down the harbor to the brand new swanky health club on Ten Pound Island with its underground tramway back to Rocky neck. There would be a Trump Tower in Dogtown, as tall as the turbine windmills so as to boast the best views in the east. And just a zip trip away from the Ferrari dealership at The Man At The Wheel on the Boulevard. Hey, but what a wheel – we’d have to inport an Italian sculptor to modify the statue with an actual oversize Ferrari sterring wheel in his hands. Now that’s marketing the city!
And how have we not installed that Jet Boat Docking Terminal yet on Thatcher’s island? Another barely used asset that is just wasting it’s views and profit poptential – as The Back Shore so obviously does. That’ll all have to change. A Helipad at Stage Fort Park is a must for when VIP’s or even foreign heads of state come to town. Very welcoming and appropriate. And wouldn’t Coles Island make some classy Golf Club with all natural sand traps! Let’s not leave out Crane’s and Wingaersheek Beaches because with a wave of the rezoning wand, there’s still space for more and more houses, McMansions all. But more to the point: why couldn’t there be Luxury Apartment Towers on those beaches as well as in downtown Lanesville. We literally have to be able to “rise above” the actual zoning to get this plan to work.
Annisquam has long been itching for a sports and entertainment complex with equisitely fine dining and plenty of limo parking. I say we give it to them. That grey yacht club out there on stilts is getting too old for anyone anyway.
Gloucester itself has always felt kinda naked to me without a proper Polo Club. It can’t be sited too near Stage Fort, though, because the helicopters will spook the polo ponies. Wait, screw the Trump folks and put the Polo Club in Dogtown, far away from the noisy hoi-poloi in town. Put the Trump Tower right at the Rotary and rename the A. Piatt Andrew as the Donald J.Trump Luxury Bridge with a gold plated fence that no one will dare climb. That’ll put us on the map and we’ll get Mexico to pay for it.
Come to think of it, why are all those fish plants and smelly boats still allowed to remain downtown? They will definitely cut into our P.L.D.I. – the Potential Luxury Development Index that financial planners who make big decisions use. Come to think of it, the ocean side houses proposed for the Back Shore had a pretty strong P.L.D.I., considering just how little they paid for the lots. That’s a R.O.I. – Return on Investment – all developers can envy. Ms. Soones can set a new standard on P.L.D.I.R.O.I.
But wait! There could be a fly in the ointment for plans on our new Luxury Gloucester future. Maybe they’ll build the 4 Soones ocean side houses part Affordable Housing. After all, even non-1%-er’s want to live in the teeth of the Atlantic. Affordble housing with an ocean view! And when their houses are scattered down the length of the Back Shore, they’ll feel like the other displaced zillionaires – so that’s a bright spot when Americans feel more equal.
So send in your suggestions, ye citizens. The luxury building boom train is just getting ready to leave the station. Will you be on that train or just one of the old fashioned, stuck-in-the-mud, bleedin’ heart Back Shore protectors who think the rocks there are something special. Hah ! All you need is cash and no memory and we finally can get somewhere. Think P.L.D.I.R.O.I., people!

Gordon Baird

Gordon Baird sails, writes, sings and video edits his way through Gloucester as he has since 1950.  Musician Magazine called him co-founder, Gloucester Times calls him columnist, 3 kids call him Dad.  7 chickens, 2 goats, 2 pigs and a donkey call him breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Pimping Out Gloucester

Ten Pound Island. Photo Courtesy Laurel Tarantino

Ten Pound Island.
Photo Courtesy Laurel Tarantino

February 2016

A favorite quote of mine is one by Zelda Fitzgerald (1889~1948), “Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold.”  I so understand this.  Science tells us that it’s impossible to die from a broken heart.   I beg to differ; it sure feels like it sometimes, especially when you keep taking blow after blow, seems like the damage can be irreparable.

With friends, my heart fills with gladness for all that we have and share.   These same friends have my best interest at hand when I’m sad for personal reasons.  They’ll turn me around to see the positive impact I have on people that count on me and need me.  Sometimes it’s hard to be needed.

I just took another blow to the heart again Tuesday night.  I need more than my friends for repairs this time. Before I let the tragic issues of the world get the better of me and turn me into a cynical old woman that roams the streets hurrrmmping through life, I reach out to you, anyone that may be reading this.

The injury this time, for lack of a better description, “The Pimping out of Gloucester,” in particular, Ten Pound Island, with total disregard for nature and its needs.  Where do we draw the line?  When are we going to say, “You know what, enough is enough?” When every inch of it is sold off to the highest bidder?

Put before the Waterways Board Tuesday night was a proposal for a float system on Ten Pound Island.  Sounds like a good idea, right?   It would give people access to the island, a place for people to tie up their boats, a place where people could take the Shuttle service every hour.   They even talked about tying it in with other activities…   yoga, the sailing program, the arts.  To me it sounds like another idea with an amusement park like theme.  In fact, the proposal was called “Harbor Park.”

My apologies, I’m starting to sound cynical, I can feel it.  I can’t help myself, when not one member of the board asked about the environmental impact to the area.  No one brought up the fact that the island is a safe haven for hundreds of birds, birds that migrate there, nest, roost and raise their young there.

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“Why shouldn’t everyone be allowed to enjoy the island?” has been a question on social media.  The answer to that is that everyone can.  People visit the island now by kayak, row boat, sail boat, paddle boards and small motor boats and all these folk seem to be very respectful of the area.  They seem to understand the term “Carry In, Carry Out,” without having signs posted to tell them to do so.  As it is now, the small boat traffic is about all the island can handle.  I find the people that visit truly leave the island as they found it.  If you open the area to an unlimited number of people for adventure I feel it would be incredibly hazardous to the environment.  In the 90’s there was a shuttle you could catch a ride on that left you on the beach.  During that time, my husband and I saw an increase in litter, dirty diapers strewn into the plant life that grows beyond the wall, human feces, an overflowing trash barrel that never got emptied, a neglected picnic table that usually had the aftermath of someone’s lunch on it, basically signs of an uncaring public.

I psyched myself up to go to this meeting Tuesday night and speak on behalf of the birds, as they have no voice in City Hall.  This was going to be a great feat for me, as I’m petrified of public speaking, but I was willing to sacrifice my comfort.  I was mortified when the meeting started with the Chair Person commenting, “I don’t know why all these people are here, for what issue, but I can tell you, there will be no public input.”  I had my courage and couldn’t do anything with it and I was letting the birds down.

If you’ve never visited Ten Pound Island, you may not know what a beautiful sanctuary it is for several species of birds.

Snow Egrets. Photo Courtesy Laurel Tarantino


From late April to late October, there are Snowy Egrets that adorn the treetops in such numbers that I often refer to them as Christmas ornaments.

There are Great Egrets, Black Crowned Night Herons, Crows and occasional songbirds in the trees as well.  Along the rocks you might be entertained by the sweet little Purple Sandpipers as they dab for small crustaceans while outrunning the splash of a small wave.  Common Eiders scurry down the rocks and jump in to have a swim.  Of course, there are the ever present Seagulls and Cormorants.   All these lovely creatures can be seen if you take a quiet ride around the island in a boat.

There are also birds that nest on the ground in the interior of the island.  One must be ever aware of their footing or they could very well harm the nest of a Mallard Duck sitting on her eggs.  You might destroy an entire family of Canadian Geese if you’re not being careful,

Just Hatched Canadian Goslings. Photo Credit Denise Foley

since they may not always be sitting on their eggs, you might traipse right through them without their snarling warning.  The Herring Gulls will distract your attention away from your footing to the sky as they swarm you to protect their nests, which are plentiful along the cliffs and on the ground.

I fear it will be disastrous for the birds if people are arriving every hour.  In this day of cell phones with cameras, I’m afraid that this safe haven will slowly disappear and be replaced by 54 “Likes” on Facebook, because people will have to walk through the homes of these beautiful creatures in order to get a sought after photo of the Lighthouse.  What will happen to the babies once they’re hatched?  They’re so incredibly cute, I can see someone trying to catch one, which wouldn’t be very hard to do, since they have no defense against us humans.

Juvenile Flounder. Photo Credit Laurel Tarantino

Juvenile Flounder.
Photo Credit Laurel Tarantino

What will happen to the thriving ecosystem in the water that surrounds the Island when you have a motor boat arriving several times a day, everyday of the week?  I cringe to think of it.

I’ll end this long winded rant with another quote, this time from Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Please help stop the giving away of Gloucester.  Believe me when I say (sadly) there are more great plans being drawn, but great for who is what needs to be asked.


To learn more about the Audubon (IBA) Important Bird Areas, which Ten Pound Island is part of, visit the following site:

Massachusetts Audubon – Conservation

Locally, here is the link to our city offices should you like to contact them with your concerns on this or any other issue:

Gloucester, MA – Official Website


Laurel TarantinoLaurel Tarantino, writer, is happy to live in her hometown, Gloucester, with her husband, James,”Jimmy T,” daughter Marina Bella, and the family dog, Sport. She is known for “stopping to smell the roses” and loves to photograph and write about her beloved waterfront community.