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FOGH News

Forum September 17th: Sea Level Rise on Cape Ann

The Friends of Good Harbor invite the public to a forum on the subject, Sea Level Rise on Cape Ann, at the association’s annual meeting on Wednesday, September 17, at 7 p.m., The location will be the Elks on Bass Rocks, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from Gloucester’s back shore.  Exhibits and refreshments will be served at 6:30 pm.

The keynote speakers will be two distinguished ocean scientists: Dr. David Burdick and Dr. Paul Kirshen, both of whom are professors at the University of New Hampshire and associates in Coastal Ecology and Restoration and the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space respectively.  Dr. Burdick will speak on "SLR and Natural Wetlands."  Dr. Kirshen will speak on "SLR and Upland Structures. The speakers' vitae are available here.

Barbara Warren speaks on Salt Marsh Studies at 2013 Annual MeetingSea levels are rising and the Massachusetts coastline is designated as a "hot spot."  Burdick and Kirshen are widely known for their scientific lectures on what is known and expected with respect to Sea Level Rise (SLR) in a manner that is accessible, informative, and motivating.  Their illustrated presentations will provide the explanatory context for SLR and focus on the impacts on coastal communities with special emphasis on Cape Ann.  In response to their lectures, Tom Balf and Barbara Warren will comment on two local initiatives underway on Cape Ann.

The forum will be coupled with FOGH’s brief but important annual meeting.  Denton Crews will summarize the recent accomplishments and upcoming projects of the association: beach improvements made by the Department of Public Works, salt marsh monitoring, and a preliminary study of the proposed Thatcher Road walkway.

The forum is co-sponsored by Maritime Gloucester and Salem Sound Coastwatch.  The agenda for the forum and annual meeting may be downloaded here.

At last year's forum, held in June of 2013, Barbara Warren spoke on the summer long study of Good Harbor's salt marsh and tidal creek (above photograph), including recommendations for protecting and preserving its natural habitat and recreational environment.  Respondents to the address were Max Schenk, Gloucester's representative to the Great Marsh Committee, and Paul McGeary, Gloucester City Councilor.  There were 85-90 persons in the audience.

Construction of Condos on Thatcher Road

Under new ownership, Brierneck Realty LLC has begun construcion on twelve condominiums on property at 70-74 Thatcher Road at the corner of Witham Street.  The new owners are Paul St. Hilaire and Robert Messina, who purchased the fully permitted property from James Griffoni and partners.

Thatcher Road property cleared for construction The construction of condominiums at the edge of Good Harbor salt marsh was fought in court by the City of Gloucester on behalf of the Zoning Appeals Board.  The property owners had received a comprehensive permit from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Housing Appeals Committee based upon the inclusion of 25% affordable units under Chapter 40B and won final approval from the Supreme Judicial Court in 2011.  The Gloucester Building Department granted a final permit in the spring of 2014.  The Friends of Good Harbor held a purchase and sale agreement with the owners in 2013 with the intention of restoring the property to salt marsh, however the agreement expired and the original owners were unwilling to sign a renewal.  The new owners expect to build the condominiums in stages, with the first cluster now under construction and targeted for completion in 2015.

Representatives of FOGH have met with the new owners about their plans for construction as well as design and landscaping details.  In addition, conversation is taking place with respect to coordinating the early-stage planning of a Thatcher Road walkway, for which the new owners have offered their cooperation.

Planning for the construction of six condominiums across Witham Street is also underway with other owners on the Thatcher Road site of Olivia's Restaurant (formerly Amelia's).  The property has been rezoned for residential construction by the City Council.  Also, the Zoning Board of Appeals has granted relief for an additional five feet of height (35 feet).  The owners must return to the City Council with complete construction plans where the project will undergo detailed review and potential conditions prior to approval, according to City Councilor Paul McGeary.

Good Harbor Beach Gets Face Lift

Good Harbor Beach is getting a face lift. New welcome signs greet visitors at all major entrances to the beach, and new rules signs have been erected at all pedestrian paths to the beach. Also, the kiosks with bulletin boards have been refurbished and kept current with announcements and news.

Over the winter, The Friends of Good Harbor worked with Gloucester's Department of Public Works' Mark Coles and also with Seaside Graphics on the design of the signs.  The DPW funded the production and installation of the signs.  DPW also erected fences along the sand dunes to protect them from intrusion.  FOGH also funded the planting of the flower bed surrounding the sign at the entrance to the parking lot and maintained it throughout the summer.  The postings on the kiosks were also maintained by FOGH.

FOGH applaudes Gloucester's Department of Public Works for the face list and environmental improvements to Good Harbor Beach.  The DPW team truly cares about Good Harbor and has performed superbly as caretakers of this treasured natural habitat.

Rules sign on beach Main sign for beach kiosk on beach

Salt Marsh Study Results Released

The results of the summer long study of the Good Harbor salt marsh and tidal creek will be presented at the fall forum on September 17, hosted by the Friends of Good Harbor (see article above). Salem Sound Coastwatch Executive Director Barbara Warren, who led the most recent study of the marsh, will release the report at that time.

Seven years of monitoring Good Harbor salt marsh have rendered a consistent message: the marsh habitat is under stress and impaired. The study conducted last summer shows evidence of smaller numbers of invertebrates and greater amounts of invasive vegetation (e.g phragmites). Eight trouble sites are in need of restoration, and tidal flow degradation is apparent in Saratoga Creek. The project report is to be issued soon and will be posted on the FOGH web site with findings and recommendations for action.

The Marsh Assessment Study was conducted by Salem Sound Coastwatch (SSCW) in the summers of 2012, 2013, and 2014. The purpose of the study was to assess the condition and quality of the marsh, including impairments to its health. The project team collected and analyzed seven data elements: salinity, nekton, macro-invertebrates, avifauna, vegetation, tidal influence, and land use. The project goal is to develop a plan for restoration and to maintain the marsh as a healthy natural habitat and as a resource for public awareness and enjoyment. The FOGH oversight leaders for this initiative are Tom Todd and Mary Sullivan.

Archived News Articles

News articles previously posted on the FOGH web site are archived according to the year/season of publication.  Links to archived articles are as follows:

News Articles 2013 Summer & Fall
News Articles 2013 Winter & Spring
News Articles 2012-13 Fall & Winter

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