This editorial ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 10/30/01
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

Date: October 30, 2002
Page: A14
Section: Editorial

STATE SENATOR Jack Hart of South Boston is scheduled to host a meeting today of marine-related business owners who believe they have become second-class citizens on the waterfront. They argue forcefully that their industry is due for a comeback and deserves room to grow on a waterfront now geared more to condos, hotels, and a new convention center.

Frustrated marine-users eye the city-owned Wharf 8, where music promoter Don Law operates the popular FleetBoston Pavilion. Law holds a permit to host his shows through the summer of 2004 in the "designated port area" where water dependent businesses, ranging from fish processing to power generation are considered the "highest and best use" by the state's Office of Coastal Zone Management. But absent a compelling marine use, city officials appear content to let the band play on. "No one is knocking on our door for that site," says Mark Maloney, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Maloney adds that the agency is busy marketing parcels in the nearby Marine Industrial Park to water-dependent businesses.

Hart, like most political leaders in the city, favors the FleetPavilion. Law argues that the waterfront ambience is key to the pavilion's popularity. But his musical offerings would likely sound just as good farther inland. Today's meeting offers a needed opportunity to determine future maritime demand for the site. Boston's seaport tradition and the benefits of economic diversity on the waterfront must be considered.

Norm Stavis, president of North Coast Seafoods on Drydock Avenue in the Marine Industrial Park, says he considered Wharf 8 but couldn't "come to terms" with the city. Stavis counters claims that marine-related industries are too economically fragile to command a presence on the waterfront. He envisions a growing need for cold storage facilities, gear repair for fishing vessels, and expanded production capacity for processors as groundfish stocks rebound in the Gulf of Maine.

"Boston is still the distribution hub and processing hub for seafood," says Stavis, who employs 200 people and is expanding his operations in New Bedford. Smaller business owners tell a similar story. Dale Freeman of Triton Divers performs underwater maintenance on vessels in Boston Harbor. But he is also buying a dragger to convert for use as a dive salvage vessel. The sheltered inlet at Wharf 8, he says, would be an ideal base of operations.

"All I want is a fair shot," says Freeman, "and I don't see it happening."

Law made a half-hearted attempt last year to evaluate alternative sites for the music pavilion. State environmental secretary Robert Durand wisely sent him back for a closer look. City officials should take a cue from the state environmental chief and escalate their search efforts for water-dependent businesses.

This editorial ran on page A14 of the Boston Globe on 10/30/02
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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