The Consequences of Unplanned Growth

Peter Anastas

“Stop this renewing without reviewing.”

–Charles Olson, “A Scream to the Editor”

Prospect Street, Gloucester. 1928 Hopper, Edward (1882-1967)

Prospect Street, Gloucester. 1928 Hopper, Edward (1882-1967)

What do the proposed “Soones Court” Back Shore luxury housing project and the recently floated ideas for the development of Ten Pound Island have in common, aside from the fact that they have provoked vociferous public opposition?

These are projects that have no foundation in planning.  They were neither anticipated nor considered as part of an overarching plan for the growth and development of Gloucester or the protection of our natural resources.  Why is this?  Simply put, it is because the city effectively does not have a Master Plan that is currently valid.  Our Master Plan is neither valid nor relevant because, having last been drafted and voted upon in 2001, it is fifteen years out of date.  As such, it does not—and did not—anticipate major projects like Gloucester Crossing or the Beauport Hotel on the Fort, both of which also stirred divisive public opposition.

The purpose of good planning is to avoid such controversies as much as possible and make clear in a democratically created document what is needed for the orderly growth and development of the community; in other words, what should be built in the future and where it should be built.  Such a plan also provides for what the community wishes to preserve in  terms of landforms, historic sites and buildings, neighborhoods, or cherished places— iconic locations like the shore side of our Back Shore, Ten Pound Island, Dogtown, or the Magnolia Woods.  It is possible through planning to set aside such “magical places,” as Janice Stelluto, who shepherded Plan 2001 from the talking stages through to its completion, called them, so that they would remain undisturbed to be enjoyed by future generations of Gloucester citizens and visitors drawn to the natural beauty of our city.

Good planning also anticipates the impact on the economic and social well- being of the city of foreseen growth; for as a community considers what it hopes to live with in the present—which amenities it needs, what kinds of new business might be provided to create necessary jobs, how new growth and development will affect tax base—it also looks at what is not wanted.   It provides for the preservation of what is valued like the untrammeled view out to Thatcher’s Island from the Back Shore, or Ten Pound Island left in its natural state for students to study its geology and birdlife.

Plan 2001 did not call for a shopping plaza adjacent to the Fuller School, nor did it consider the marine-industrial Fort as an ideal location for a “boutique” hotel or conference and function center   These were not developments growing out of the community’s pressing desire to have them (there was consensus about a downtown hotel but not on the Fort); they were developer-driven projects, coming, as it were, from a vacuum created by a lack of planning.  Taken by surprise, as the community was when these unanticipated and unplanned for projects first surfaced, many in the community reacted like we all do when we are confronted with the unexpected.  There was anger, frustration and, naturally, resistance, creating rifts in the city, which deepened as one unanticipated and unplanned for project followed another.

To be sure, the planning process cannot anticipate or parry in advance every controversy; nor can it satisfy all sectors of the community.  But it can help us to avoid the divisive acrimony we now experience in Gloucester with the concomitant anger against and distrust of government and public officials, neither of which help to promote or sustain our wellbeing as a people, collectively hoping for a deserved quality of life in the place we call home.

Without good planning a city is helpless in the face of the relentless drive to develop that we and many seaside communities like Gloucester are facing, just as a family that does not budget its finances or plan for the future is stymied when there is job loss or catastrophic illness.  Good planning can help to avoid the raucous public hearings that have been a sad feature of local life, pitting neighbor against neighbor and ward against ward, only fueling the enmity and distrust of government that have come to characterize national life as well.  Good planning can also help the community avoid costly litigation that drains both public coffers and private citizens of funds that could be more wisely and creatively spent.

So, before we get into another battle royal over the next development proposal to come down the pike (and there will be many), would it be too much to ask if we, as a community, could take that superannuated Master Plan off the shelf and revise it?  Or better: couldn’t we begin again, utilizing all the experience we have gained during the past fifteen fractious years, and write a new one?   Call it a roadmap for the present, or a GPS helping us to navigate our way through the complex terrain of the future.  Call it what you will, but for the sake of all of us let’s not move forward without knowing what’s ahead.

(On Thursday, March 4, 2016, the Gloucester Planning Board said “No” to preliminary plans for Soones Court.  However, developers have announced that they will return in July with “a more definite proposal.”

On Monday, March 21, there will be a community meeting hosted by Ward One city councilor Scott Memhard, at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center, 6 Wonson Street, at 7 p.m., to discuss “Ten Pound Island: Recognizing its Past, Planning its Future.”  All are invited.)

 

Peter at Museum (1)Peter Anastas, editorial director of Enduring Gloucesteris a Gloucester native and writer. His most recent book, A Walker in the City: Elegy for Gloucester, is a selection from columns that were published in the Gloucester Daily Times.

Ten Pound Island

© 2016 Louise Welch

© 2016 Louise Welch

rugged with
gulls
toughened by
raw weather by
unpeopled
growth stench
rust & wash
barrels & wire
gulls protest when
we land
on the beach
poke among
shells climb to the green
so high she thinks
of snakes
does not proceed
under the gull hover
to visit the light
the rust but feels textures
in the sand with wet feet
hauls a little on the painter
keeps her head to wind

Melissa de Haan Cummings

 

melissa2bcummingsMelissa de Haan Cummings majored in French and English Literature at Bryn Mawr. She has published poetry in a number of journals.  She describes her interests as including, “much small boating around Cape Ann, love of Charles Olson, Hatha yoga practice since 1969.”

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.

 

 

Maritime Gloucester Talks: Who Owns the Ocean?

Gloucester Waterfront. Walter Curtis Yeomans (1882-1972)

Gloucester Waterfront. Walter Curtis Yeomans (1882-1972)

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2016, 7:00 PM TO 8:30 PM

REGISTRATION : FREE EVENT. PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A DONATION AT THE DOOR. Maritime Gloucester, Harbor Loop.
AUDIENCE: GENERAL AUDIENCE; STUDENTS ENCOURAGED
2016 Maritime Gloucester Talks kicks off with a panel discussion on the Massachusetts Ocean Plan, Balancing Interests while Managing “Ocean Sprawl” with presenters Bruce Carlisle, Director of Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and Jack Clarke, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations, Mass Audubon, Chairman of the Massachusetts Ocean Advisory Commission, as re-appointed by Governor Baker; and a Gloucester resident.
Massachusetts’ Ocean Plan is the landmark blueprint to protect and sustainably use state ocean waters, safeguard critical marine habitat and important water-dependent uses, and to set standards for new ocean-based development. This panel discussion will provide you with the background on how and why the plan was developed, explore the role of stakeholders and discuss its stresses—from sand and gravel mining to our Canadian neighbors exploring for gas and oil. Leaving plenty of time for your questions and group discussion.

Shut Up and Dance

On Saturday, March 26, 2011 my life was transformed when a 6 lb 11 ounce princess joined my world. When the midwife first placed her in my arms, my daughter rested her tiny hand against my left cheek and stared at me with large, dark brown eyes accentuated by strikingly long lashes. Her look was intense and so attentive, qualities that would only grow deeper as the years passed. It has been almost five years since Emerson Belle was born and not a day goes by where I don’t try to live like “Emmy.”

To Emmy, every day is the best day of her life.  Every chocolate milk she tastes is “the most IMG_5886delicious one ever.”  Every dress she owns is, “the most beautiful gown in the world.” Every cartoon on t.v. is “the funniest show she has ever seen.” Emmy feels everything so deeply that something is not merely good, it’s, in her words, “unbelievable.” And the compliments that this kid dishes out can make you feel like a million bucks. She won’t just say you’re pretty, she will tell you that you’re the most gorgeous woman in the entire Universe.  But times are not always glorious on Granite Street.

When Emmy is upset, “it’s the worst day of her life.”  This comes with slamming doors and loud outbursts.  But her tantrums are short-lived and she emerges from her bedroom apologetic and loving. Emmy has taught me the value of pure and raw emotion. Being vulnerable enough to share your true feelings with another is a beautiful thing, yet it becomes so rare as we age.  Society tells us that mature adults must control their emotions. Adults must not get angry and certainly must not cry.  Adults that do such things are labeled as “emotional” and deemed weak.  Label me then. To share your genuine self makes an ordinary person extraordinary. Through Emmy, I have learned that feeling things so deeply simply means that you are living completely.

Not long after Emmy’s first birthday, I discovered that I was once again pregnant.  Thrilled, I did what most newly pregnant women do, I hit the computer. I found out my estimated due date and started scanning websites for potential names. All the while, I did not feel quite right. Looking back, all the signs of a miscarriage were there, but my optimistic nature refused to pay them any mind.  I was convinced that I was having a baby boy and that Blake Ashton would make his arrival on or around December 9th.  I had no reason to think otherwise because I had such a textbook pregnancy with Emmy. But this time, I was not so lucky. Just shy of two months, I would experience the loss that accompanies a miscarriage.

I was left devastated and full of questions. How could this happen? I thought I was healthy.  Did this mean I will have problems having another child? I wanted Emmy to have a sibling. I felt tremendous guilt and deep sadness all at the same time. Did I have the right to grieve this much when others have carried and lost a baby much later in pregnancy? And what about those women who have faced multiple miscarriages. I felt so alone and it was not until I met with a midwife of Essex County that my healing process would take shape. She listened to all of my fears and questions. She let me cry long and hard and then provided invaluable comfort and guidance with her words. A baby is real the second a woman finds out she is pregnant. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss of your baby.  Your body was healthy enough to reject an unhealthy pregnancy. You will conceive again when you are ready.  It took this loss for me to learn that it’s okay for adults to talk with other adults about what hurts and to even share fears. There are some great listeners out there. Through opening up to others, I learned that I was not alone. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 women experience this same heartache. Time and a shocking surprise helped me to move forward but not forget. Every first week in December I think about the loss I suffered but also pay respect to the Universe for the surprise she brought me.

Not long after that meeting with the midwife, Brandon and I learned that I was once again pregnant. This time around I felt awful, but a good kind of awful. My morning sickness lasted for six months and it didn’t stop at noon. I was nauseous 24 hours a day and I couldn’t be happier about it! It meant that my body was doing what it should, creating a new life. And what a life it would create.

Emerson Belle and Ryder Kai Sanborn

Emerson Belle and Ryder Kai Lewis

Ryder Kai entered the world on Saturday, January 26, 2013.  This 6 lbs and 6 ounce baby boy with blonde hair and blue eyes would grow into the coolest kid I have ever met. While I know my daughter like the back of my hand, my son still surprises me constantly. A boy who marches to the beat of his own drum. A very large drum. Ryder knows what he wants and he doesn’t care if everyone else wants something different. No one is changing Ryder’s mind when he sets it on something. He is that comfortable in his own skin. You can imagine the struggles we have faced when trying to convince him to eat something besides butternut squash or chocolate. Through Ryder I have learned how important it is to stay true to your genuine self and that spontaneity can be invigorating after adhering to a schedule dominated by routine.

Ryder is a fearless child who takes risks and has the scars on his chin to prove it. He lives hard and sleeps the same way. In a few weeks, Ryder will turn 3, yet he still naps like a infant, for 2-3 hours every day. Ryd savors mischief and easily finds it countless times in any given day. The kid who appreciates the bad guy. Sher Kan, Scar, and Shredder are among his favorites. My son loves to

Emmy and Ryder Kai Sanborn. Good Harbor Beach .

Emmy and Ryder Kai Lewis
Good Harbor Beach .

swear and I know his favorite song is Shut Up and Dance just because he thinks he’s getting away with saying something inappropriate. Ryder has taught me not to take life too seriously. He has

helped me worry less and lighten up, even when times are tough.  He has shown our family the importance of humor; no one can make us belly laugh quite like Ryder Kai.

It is true that there is no gift like a new baby. But the best gift of all are the lessons these babies teach us as they grow up.

 

 

lori sanbornLori Sanborn was born in Gloucester and returned to live permanently in our seaside community three years ago. She has been a public educator for 12 years, teaching eighth graders.  Lori is most proud of her role as mother to her children, Emerson and Ryder.

Toward a Vision for the City’s Future

Peter Anastas

Peter Anastas and Sefatia Romeo Theken. Gloucester Mayoral Inaugration. January 1, 2016.

Peter Anastas and Sefatia Romeo Theken.
Gloucester Mayoral Inaugration.
January 1, 2016.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines inauguration as “to induct into office by a formal ceremony” or “to cause to begin, to dedicate, to consecrate.”  Our Gloucester High School Latin teachers, Josephine P. Ray and Vincent Elmer, would have taken pains to point out the Latin root “augurare,” “to presage, to foretell, to look ahead.”  This gave us the Italian “augurio,” “to wish, to be of good omen, to give one’s best wishes,” as in auguri.   So, in effect, we are here today not only to celebrate the induction of Sefatia Romeo Theken into her first full term as mayor of Gloucester, we are also gathered to look ahead, to consecrate ourselves and the city we love to a future of good omen, to wish our new mayor and her administration, our new city council and school committee—the community itself— tanti auguri for the New Year ahead and for our hoped for future.

Before I speak of that bright future we richly deserve, I’d like to look back for a moment, to pay tribute to those who have made it possible, particularly our parents and grandparents; and for Sefatia, her mother and father, Rosalia and Enzo Giambanco.  Enzo Giambanco, was president of the Board of Directors at Action, Inc., Gloucester’s antipoverty agency, when I first went to work there in 1972.  I found in Enzo not only a mentor but a person of deep compassion for the low-income families we were serving, including out-of-work fishermen, children who needed a pre-school education their parents could not afford, people who did not have health insurance, and elders who were torn between paying rent and utility bills and eating.  As an immigrant he understood what it felt like to be on the outside, whether you spoke a different language or your customs differed from those of the community.   Along with Executive Director Bill Rochford, Enzo helped to steer the agency through some of its most challenging times, while never abandoning those who depended on our services, whether it was help with fuel bills, home care, or after-school care for the children of working mothers.

I will never forget the time when, after the construction of the O’Maley middle school, the city was deciding what to do with the suddenly empty Central Grammar School with its beautiful WPA murals, where many of our parents had gone to high school and my generation had spent our 7th and 8th grade years.   Action proposed a reuse of the stately building for apartments for the elderly; but there were questions about the need for such housing and the ability of an agency like Action, which had never done bricks and mortar, to undertake such a project.  A public hearing was to be held at City Hall to determine which direction the city would move, and it was necessary to show support for the agency’s plan to create quality housing for our senior citizens.   Enzo told Bill not to worry.  And that night he arrived with 500 elders and their families, filling city hall auditorium and convincing the council of public support for the project.   The present Central Grammar Apartments not only met a crucial need in the city, it became a pioneer project in the regional movement to adapt former schools into much needed housing.

Sefatia learned these innovative and caring ways from the cradle.  She has spent her entire life helping the people of Gloucester as one of the city’s hardest working councilors and as a health care advocate and human services liaison at Addison Gilbert Hospital.  During her tenure as interim mayor, Sefatia again demonstrated her skills at reaching out to citizens across the entire social and economic spectrum of the city, listening compassionately to their concerns, hearing the ideas they shared, and making decisions in a thoughtful and intelligent manner, while relating to all of us in an open, caring and humane way.  When you are hugged by Sefatia you know she means it.

Sefatia has roots that run deeply into the community and its history.  She’s gone to school and raised a family here.  She can walk down the street and recognize everyone she meets.   She can tell you who lived on which street, who worked where, and what happened to them if they got laid off.  This kind of knowledge that comes from growing up in one place and feeling it in your blood is indispensable when it comes to understanding the needs of neighborhoods and their residents, no matter which part of the city they are located in.  A public official who is not deeply in touch with the culture of the community he or she hopes to serve is already at a disadvantage.

We need a mayor who encourages our community to engage in the kind of constructive dialogue that is the cornerstone of our democracy, a mayor who will lead us toward a more vital sense of community in education, civic responsibilities, historical awareness, fiscal prudence, economic and social self-sufficiency, and love of place.  We particularly need a mayor who understands and cares deeply about our fishing industry and the importance of our working waterfront and the innovative Blue Economy.  I believe that Sefatia will be this kind of mayor.   Just as we need to move ahead, we equally need to maintain our roots as a city of families and neighborhoods, where everyone has a place at the table and everyone’s  voice is listened to and respected.  There is a yearning all over America for the sense of place, of shared history, of belonging, that we in Gloucester are fortunate to enjoy in abundance.

Gloucester has always been a city of ethnic and economic diversity—and this diversity has been one of our greatest strengths.  We live in dangerous times and we need the peace and comfort that a community like ours affords.  It is through community that we learn together and grow together, as we help our children and grandchildren grow and prosper.

Concretely we must address the following issues as we look to the city’s future.

–We need a revised and updated Master Plan so we can best manage growth and know where to build and what to preserve.

–We must recommit ourselves to our embattled fishing industry and to the working waterfront itself, continuing our long history of adaption to change with the creation of a strong seafood innovation cluster economy and the good local jobs it will create.   We are also a great boating community and while we work to make our waterfront a more welcoming place for recreational boaters, we must not forget the importance of community boating facilities for our own residents.

–We will need to look newly at tourism and its impact on the city’s life and infrastructure (traffic, the harbor, the beaches, the land), with a special conversation about the role of a smart,  human-scale visitor-based economy, the corner stone of which should be cultural and eco-tourism.

–We need to continue our conversation around the development of a public arts policy with added discussion on the place of the arts in local life and the visitor-based sector.  Essential to the future of the city as a magnet for the arts is the development of live-work housing for local artists, who constitute a bridge between the life we all enjoy here and what we want to offer to those we welcome into our community.

–Essential also is an initiative to involve more citizens in public life, volunteering for boards and commissions.  We must especially nurture a new generation of engaged citizens: our democracy will depend on it.

–As for schools, plant is important, but what happens in the classroom is paramount.  We must transcend the tyranny of standardized testing, reasserting the primary role of the imagination, critical thinking and creativity in art, music, drama, science and the humanities.

–We must do everything to keep our city beautiful, not only for those who wish to visit but for those of us who live here year round.  The restoration of Stacy Boulevard, Gloucester’s crown jewel, is long overdue.   Dogtown is our refuge for hiking, cross country skiing, berry picking, and the exploration of nature.  Let us continue to support the work that volunteers are engaged upon in preserving this treasure and keeping Dogtown unspoiled for future generations.

What we especially need, along with careful planning to account for inevitable change, is a land ethic, a way in which we view the land and its uses beyond mere profit-taking and commercial development.  We must build what we need, but we must do it in a way that does not destroy the unique character of neighborhoods or disrupt human and natural ecologies.

We must plan regionally as well as locally, always with a sense of preserving the character and integrity of particular communities; for I believe that only those places which are sensitive to their uniqueness will survive.  Without an informed, coherent and humane vision of ourselves in relation to our environment we will not survive as a community, let alone as a planet or a species.

So as we inaugurate our new mayor and congratulate the city councilors and school committee members we have elected to represent us, let us re-commit ourselves to working together, to building “not only for today alone but for tomorrow as well.” If we expect it of ourselves, those who come after us will thank us for our vision, our imagination, and especially for our commitment.

Thank you e tanti auguri a` tutti for the New Year and for Gloucester’s future.

(This speech was delivered at City Hall, on January 1, 2016, at the inauguration of Sefatia Romeo Theken as Mayor of Gloucester)

 

Peter at Museum (1)Peter Anastas, EG editorial directoris a Gloucester native and writer. His most recent book, A Walker in the City: Elegy for Gloucester, is a selection from columns that were published in the Gloucester Daily Times.

 

Village Facing the Sea

Anne Babson Carter

Dunes at Annisquam. 1916 John French Sloan

Dunes at Annisquam. 1916
John French Sloan

Bing1 (2)bing2 (2)

September 14, 1991/For K.D. and T.B

 

Anne Babson Carter is the author of an award-winning collection of poems, Strike Root, published by Four Way Books.  Her poems have appeared in The Nation, The Paris Review, Theology Today, The Christian Century, Borderlands Review, among others.  A founding member of the Guilford Poets Guild in Guilford, CT, Carter has twice been a fellow of the Yaddo Corporation.  She lives and works on Cape Ann, Massaschusetts

 

Giving Thanks

A wish to all of you from all of us at Enduring Gloucester…   may you have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving, filled with many blessings.

“For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gloucester Landscape 1919 Stuart Davis (1892-19640

Gloucester Landscape 1919
Stuart Davis (1892-1964)

Pot Luck

Laurel Tarantino

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will never have a formal dining room.  You know the kind I mean, a room with a long handsome table that seats ten or twenty people, with water glasses, stemmed goblets for wine, fine china and fingerbowls.  The kind of table where I would have to question, “Which fork is this, my salad fork, or is it for the main course?” A room where there are old fine art oil paintings that adorn the walls, lit by brass lamps that reflect the mastery of the artist.  Oh, and candles, how they’ll set the mood for an exquisite evening.

No, I may never know what it’s like to dine in such a formal setting, but I do know fine dining.  I’ve found a dining experience that fits into my life just perfectly, and I can’t imagine a month without one.  Pot Luck dining: I don’t know where these dinners originated, I like to think they started right here in New England.   I’m not going to “Google” them on line to learn their history, but one thing I do know, whoever came up with the concept was a genius.

I can’t remember my first, perhaps it was at the Fire Station in Lovell, Maine, where it seemed the entire town showed up to socialize.  I’m always tempted to stop at those suppers you see advertised on a hand painted board “Church Supper Tonight, All Are Welcome,” but it’s usually last minute that I see them and I was brought up never to show up empty handed.  So I smile instead for those inside enjoying their community gathering.

I have a small group that gets together to play what we call “Extreme Croquet,” mostly during the not-so-perfect weather days, hence the name “Extreme.”  One Saturday a month, at High Noon, weExtreme Croquet meet for the fun and the bragging rights of taking the win on the course.  There may be briar, knee deep grass, waist high snow, rain, or other obstacles on the course.  Always, there is friendly ribbing…   “Watch him, he cheats!  Send Him, Send Him Long.”  And always, always, there is laughter in abundance and a great variety of food in between rounds.  A quiet comes over the room as folks warm up with some of Helen’s chowder, a mound of Shepherds’ Pie, or a slice of Tracy’s extreme lemon cake.Extreme Lemon Cake

So, I may have only won bragging rights once in 20 or 30 games, but I surely come out on top each time I go, from the friendship, fresh air filled with the sounds of friend’s voices, and that wonderful, ever present “Pot Luck” meal.

Fast forward now, to a boat building shop on Harbor Loop.  The building itself is part of Gloucester’s Maritime Heritage Center.  Why they took the word “Heritage” out of the name is beyond me and a whole other story.

Anyway, when I bump into Geno he’ll say, “Hey, we’re going to be cooking this Saturday, you should come by if you can.” Or: “We’re getting together this weekend,” and the one I’m always sad to hear: “We’ve been getting together, I haven’t seen you in a while, where’ve you been?”  Life.  Why is it that life sometimes gets in the way of being somewhere we’d like to be, doing what we’d like to do?

Back to the Dory Shop.  There’s usually a boat in the process of being built on any given Saturday afternoon you step through the old wood sliding door.  Hopefully, for our purpose, it’s at the stage where it’s upside down and we can use the bottom for our table.   One of my fondest memories was hearing someone yell from inside the shop “Hey Geno, we need a bigger boat,” as people kept arriving with more food.   There’s plenty of sawdust, boat building tools and warmth from the wood stove that will surely have something good cooking on it.

Cooking on the wood stove at the Dory Shop

Cooking on the wood stove at the Dory Shop

Remove the lid from the cast iron skillet and catch a fine mouth-watering aroma taking the chill out of a November day.

Tom will most likely arrive with rosy cheeks, a bucket of steamers and a few lobsters he hauled just that morning.  Someone may bring Finnan Haddie, home baked beans, a salad, sweets… Ever hear of a “Gloucester Lollipop?”  We have those too, when Joe comes in with his Mackerel on a stick and what a treat when Geno makes his fish cakes and calls from the wood stove to get ‘em while they last.  You never know what you’ll get, but a guarantee is that you will be welcomed, you will be well fed, and you’ll have such a grand time that you’ll want to return again and again.

An added bonus to Saturday afternoon’s at the Dory Shop would be the music. Someone is bound to bring an instrument or a pretty voice to entertain for a spell.  Want to dance?  Go ahead, no one judges you here.

Music at the Dory Shop

Music at the Dory Shop

Perhaps others will join you, or try and sing along. It’s okay if you don’t know the words.  Just don’t sit in the rocking chair if it’s empty. That’s Joe’s chair and he’s too much of a gentleman to tell you so.  It’s just a given for those of us who’ve been around a while.  The way I hear it, Geno started these Saturday afternoon “Pot Lucks” so he would have something fun to do with his uncle.  How wonderful for us that we benefit from these kind souls.

 

 

I bring you a bit away from the waterfront, to a two-car garage that houses no cars, behind Burnham’s Field.  I call these pot luck meals “Sunday Dinner at Joe’s Garage.” I have an entire photo album just for these meals.  Some of the photos include Joe gathering mussels off theGathering Mussels seaweed beds of Ten Pound Island with his daughter, to be later photographed in a pan of garlic, fresh tomatoes and wine.  Oh, and the fresh bread!

Bread is always warm at Joe's Garage

Bread is always warm at Joe’s Garage

Joe makes loaves every time.  Hot from the industrial restaurant style ovens, smothered in sesame seed, a true gift for your taste buds.  How many pictures of food can you take?  I don’t know yet, I’m still working on it.  I know for sure, there’ll be more delights coming from Sunday Dinner at Joe’s Garage.  Homemade sausage, pizzas, linguini with the clam sauce, countless photo ops.

Today I’m at another friend’s house for “Patriots Football.”  I’m among some of my dearest of friends and they all know I’m not here to watch football.  Oh, I do hope the Patriots continue with their winning streak, but it is certainly not the foremost reason for being here.  It’s the nourishment of friendship, good eats and conversations, before, during half time and after the game that feed me.  Even the dogs are happy to be invited.  Maybe someone will toss them a scrap; in the meantime, they run and play in the autumn sunshine.    This group of people take turns each time there is a one o’clock game on a Sunday.  One week it might be at Maria’s or June’s, perhaps a Harvest Meal at Lenny and Ricks, wherever it may be any particular week is the place I want to be.

I can hear cheers from the other room, the Pats must be winning.  From where I sit, we have all won for this day we’ve been given together.

There are so many ways we enjoy ourselves.  I find for me they generally involve food.  The Fort Gang feasts at different friends’ homes during St. Peter’s Fiesta, celebrating the Fourth of July with the same crew and then some in Rockport.  Bringing a dish to the Orchard Street Parade where the famous “Hat Ladies” debut their incredible work.   St. Joseph’s Feast at Auntie Emma’s, which starts before most are out of bed to make the pasta.  All memories that make forever stories to be told time and again.

So folks, if you’ve never experienced it, I highly recommend it…   call it what you will, “Pot Luck Dinner, Pot Luck Lunch, Sunday Dinner at Joe’s Garage.” Make up your own excuse, just do it.  Get together with your friends, share in the making of the meal, and eat it together, be it leaning on a porch railing or the bottom of an overturned boat.  Rain, snow, sunshine or under the stars, simply enjoy each other’s company.

If you want to “Google” the origins of Pot Luck, please let me know what you find.  I imagine they’ve been around since time began.  Surely, because of them, I dine on the best food on earth, in the finest settings, surrounded by the laughter and love of friendships old and new.

It doesn't get any better than this...

 

 

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.