~ Coming Out of the Woodwork ~

West End of Main Street.          J. Jeffrey Grant (1883 – 1960)

I’ve been asked, “When are you going to write again?”  I guess there isn’t a proper answer to that or too many excuses, plus, I don’t consider myself a writer, but when one of my favorite authors says my stories are wonderful, it boosts my confidence enough to think about it.

Thinking about it hasn’t helped much.  I guess one needs to be passionate about something before they can put it into words.  I’m passionate most every day and often share my feelings on social media with my photographs.  I call it my “Therapy.”  Do I need therapy?  Yes.  Don’t we all?  In this day and age of horrendous news, insatiable cancer, pollution, (unfortunately the list is long) a person needs a tranquil escape.

Often when I write, it’s because something is really bothering me, and I feel the need to share my feelings to see if I’m alone in them. At the same time, I don’t want it to just become a rant, where the reaction is, “Oh no, here she goes again.”  Sometimes those rants raise awareness and bring people together in a positive way, like my last entry, “Pimping Out Gloucester.”  I was thrilled with the support I received from like-minded people that wanted to leave Ten Pound Island alone.  It wasn’t written very well, but the results were heartwarming.

So, why am I coming out of the woodwork now?  What’s got my goat?  Different things, but all Gloucester related.  You can choose to stop reading now or go on and tell me if I’m being tedious. I’m a big girl, I can take it.

A few months back, it was decided by someone that Main Street’s draw would be enhanced by lighting up the trees from the West End to the East.  Shop owners would keep their stores open later because of the pretty lights and possibility of more foot traffic.  Volunteers were sought and found to help in this project, but no public input was sought.  No one was able to say, “I don’t want this, nor do I want the maintenance fees to come out of my taxes.”  No concerns of how artificial light could affect photosynthesis or night pollinators.  The project just went full steam ahead and now we have, I don’t know how many yards of wire hanging from trees, plugged into lamps that have underground wiring.  To me, it kind of defeats the original downtown beautification of having underground wiring for our handsome lamp posts in the first place.

I’m sure you can tell, I’m not a fan of the year-round Christmas lights on Main Street, but I’m less of a fan of the “just go ahead and do it,” approach to things that happen in this town.  We have Ward Councilors and Councilors at Large, but I’ve always felt Ward 2 belongs to all residents, just as our beaches and woods do. Surely these councilors can bring awareness to all of us, as to what is going on before the “going on” happens.   Which leads me to my next subject of “no input fear.”

While driving down Washington Street last week, I saw a big yellow sign that reads, “Let Sleeping Dogtown Lie.”  My first thought was “Ut Oh, what now?”  So, I asked on Social Media and was given some answers which lead me to a little more detail.

Excuse me, I just ran out for coffee and the paper, I had to grin when I read the headline, “Dogtown designation divides residents,” further captioned “Proponents tout better management; foes don’t want it to become a park.”  That’s an entirely different rant.  Seems the Gloucester Daily Times likes to label anyone with a difference of opinion as a “Foe.”  Oh, how I remember it well, being a “Hotel Foe and Obstructionist,” during that time period.  “Me thinks, someone is trying to tell us how to think.”

So, back to it.  I’ve come to the knowledge, as many have by now, that the Historical Commission is seeking nomination for Dogtown to become part of the National Register of Historic Districts.  This is pretty cool, right?  Well, there’s also a lot of “buts,” that need to be addressed and not brushed aside before that “full steam ahead,” approach is taken.  I imagine, once the application is sent into the state for their approval, that there will be no turning back.  Someone asked me, “Why are you trying to prevent this?  It’s no different from being nominated for an academy award.”  … that’s where I get nervous.  We all know with fame comes invasion of privacy.  Can Dogtown handle the spotlight?

I’m told the deadline is October 26, 2018, for the nomination to go to the state.  I’ve also been told, there will be public input before the end of the year.  Isn’t that a bit too late?  A lot too late?

Shouldn’t public input have been sought at the “idea” stage?  In the …We’re thinking of this for Dogtown folks, what do you think?… stage.

Remember when the “Sawyer Free Library Expansion Plans,” came out in the Gloucester Daily Times?  I believe it was a couple years ago.  I think it came as a shock to most of us.  I do remember an uproar from many when the artist rendition of the (already hired and paid for) architectural plans hit the front page.  Another example of putting the cart before the horse.  And who’s forgotten the funds being sought to erect a David Black sculpture in Solomon Jacobs Park?

My mind was blown once when a mayor (I won’t name names) said, and this is not verbatim, but pretty gosh darn close, “I’m supporting this and pushing this through because some citizens of Gloucester don’t know what’s best for them.”  I could not believe my ears.  It’s this kind of attitude that has soured many from getting involved, sadly, it should have done the opposite – rile folks up so much that they come out of the woodwork to have their voices heard.

How do we keep people informed about what’s happening in City Hall?  I don’t know the answer to that.  I do have an idea, not through the Times or our government’s website, because not everyone reads the Times or has a computer.  I think City Hall needs a “Coffee Talk” publication once a week.  Do you know what I mean?  Ever go have breakfast somewhere and there are these placemat size flyers with whimsical facts, jokes, and puzzles on them?  I’d always grab one for their entertainment value while waiting for my pancakes to arrive, Jimmy would always get more answers right than I did on the quizzes.  Anyway, my point is, what a great way to get the “goings on,” of Gloucester and stimulate conversation around town.  Did I just create a job for someone?  Maybe the High School could get involved.  We need to know what’s up and coming before it’s gone by.  Gloucester Coffee Talk, straight out of City Hall…   what do you think folks?

In the meantime, can we please find out more information before any decisions are made for Dogtown?  Please.


Laurel Tarantino, 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.


9 thoughts on “~ Coming Out of the Woodwork ~

  1. Laurel, the National Register nomination comes to us here in Gloucester on October 26 for our review. The nomination will not be sent to the State Review Board until next year, March at the earliest, and the will happen only if the Mayor and City Council approve of it, which will happen only after a public hearing. So nothing is too late for anything and no wool is being pulled over your eyes. Have a little faith?


    • “Laurel, the National Register nomination comes to us here in Gloucester on October 26 for our review.” In your own first sentence this is something that “IS” already in the forecast. I’ve only heard of this in the last 2 weeks. Someone told me there was a meeting, that maybe 30 people attended, that if I looked at Cape Ann On Line I would of heard some information. I prefer not to get my information from CAOL, as I’ve found that site to be very aggressive at times and not in a friendly manner. My Faith is in Nature, it’s the only thing that hasn’t let me down, unfortunately, mankind keeps letting Nature down on a daily basis.


  2. Laurel, you should copyright this article with blank spaces where necessary for every community in our country to fill in to suit its unique need. The problem you address is not Gloucester’s only. Everywhere, someone gets a few votes, takes municipal office and is suddenly, in his(her) mind, wiser than all of those who voted him into office.

    I grew up in West Gloucester, but I rode horses from Lolly’s Sunset Stables all over Dogtown Common. I picked a few blueberries here and there, not to take home, but to eat right then and there. I saw birds, rabbits, granite outcroppings and tress and bushes and flowers. I wasn’t in a park; I was in Dogtown. It was, and it is, a treasure.

    Thank you for sounding your alarm.

    Buck Davis


    • Thank you for your comment, I appreciate the feedback. It seems to be a community issue that no one wants to talk about, let alone address.
      Sounds like we had similar memories of Dogtown. I often rode my friend’s horse “Rebel,” through Dogtown to Professor Norton’s Woods and down onto Plum Cove Beach. Blueberry picking was just second nature in season, Dad would string up coffee cans so we could wear them like a necklace and be able to pick with both hands. Magical childhood. I still enjoy it today, not many places left where you can walk for hours and perhaps not see another soul, except for the wildlife.


  3. Hello. I noticed this post and would like to make a few comments myself.

    Ms. Lepionka: “Laurel, the National Register nomination comes to us here in Gloucester on October 26 for our review.”

    Jeff: According to Gloucester’s General Counsel the nomination material was supposed to be in state hands on or about October 26. However, it appears that the Gloucester Historical Commission (Ms. Lepionka) put some of this material in state hands prior to this date. Will need to take a closer look at this issue.

    Ms. Lepionka: “The nomination will not be sent to the State Review Board until next year, March at the earliest, and the will happen only if the Mayor and City Council approve of it, which will happen only after a public hearing.”

    Jeff: Recent developments have now brought the city council into the picture. An enabling statute was “uncovered” that gives them the right to weigh in. Without this statute, the GHC was going to push this through without a proper hearing. They would have held what they call a “Public Information Session”. At these types of sessions, they generally just tell you what they’re going to do. I know, because I attended the one held last November. Also, the mayor’s office and city council are two different bodies. It’s the city council that makes the ultimate decision on this issue.

    Ms. Lepionka: “So nothing is too late for anything…”

    Jeff: Actually it may very well be the case that enough information has already reached the state level for Dogtown to be determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. This means that the issue can be brought up again at a future date and we’ll have to go through this all over again. I think we know who to thank for this possible outcome.

    Ms. Lepionka: “…and no wool is being pulled over your eyes.”

    Jeff: Wool has been pulled over everyone’s eyes during this entire process. Let’s stop this nonsense!

    Ms. Lepionka: “Have a little faith?”

    Jeff: That’s easier said than done at this point.


  4. I think your writing comes straight from the heart, and that’s its appeal. On Dogtown, just so you know, there have been public information meetings previously. One was held over a year ago.So at least an effort was made to inform the public on that issue. Dogtown’s being on the National Register won’t result in an Academy Awards type reputation, only a quiet, dignified presence. Now the lights on Main Street are an entirely different situation. I think . you’re right. We do need community “breakfasts,” or something to keep us involved and in the know.


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