Masthead Friends of Good Harbor

Thatcher Road Property Acquisition Project

The property at the northwest corner of the intersection of Thatcher Road and Witham Street in Gloucester, formerly a wetland behind Good Harbor Beach, has been the subject of controversy since the 1970s when a section of the salt marsh was filled and partially paved. Nearly twenty years later, a developer proposed to build condominiums on the site, which was followed by more than a decade of city opposition, citizen action, and a string of legal appeals culminating in a final ruling by the state Supreme Judicial Court, in June, 2011, that the project could go forward.

In the summer of 2011, the one-year-old neighborhood organization, Friends of Good Harbor, offered a plan to the owners, Brierneck Realty LLC, for acquiring the parcel for restoration and a gateway to the Good Harbor salt marsh. By the end of the year, the two parties had reached agreement on a purchase price of $720,000.

The funding plan for the total cost of the project, $750,000, calls for three grant awards (two of which are pledged), the owners' contribution (pledged), and contributions from the community (50% pledged and received).  The following are the funding sources and amounts:

  CPA Request 150,000
  EEA LAND Grant 375,000
  Owners’ Contribution (Tax Credit) 125,000
  Foundation Grant 50,000
  FOGH Funding (Community) 50,000

The funding plan requires FOGH to raise $50,000 in a two-phased fund raising plan. Phase 1 is to be $25,000 from major donors; Phase 2 is $25,000 in pledges from the community. Phase 1 has been completed and Phase 2 will be launched in the fall of 2012.  FOGH also is involved in proposals for grant funding.  FOGH has produced or assisted with proposals for the Community Preservation Act, the State EEA LAND Grant Program, and the Dusky Foundation.

The parcel is actually two vacant lots of nearly six acres located at the northwestern corner of the intersection of Thatcher Road and Witham Street, Lots 184.5 & 184.9 on the City of Gloucester Zoning Map. The front upland part of the parcel, a salt meadow until it was filled, is nearly 1.5 acre and the development site. It is zoned EB (Extensive Business) which by special permit allows business, retail, and service uses. The rear portion consists of 4.5 acres of salt marsh and is zoned R-10, formerly R-3 (Medium/High Density Residential). The rear portion is located in the flood plain while the front upland portion was in the flood plain and a coastal barrier resource area until 1992 when the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), upon petition from the developer, re-designated the parcel as outside the special flood hazard area.

It is the vision of FOGH that the City of Gloucester will own the property, that ultimately it will be restored to its natural vegetation and wildlife habitat, that it will become a gateway to the Good Harbor marsh and wetlands, that a pedestrian walkway will encourage public access to the area, and that environmentally appropriate signage will promote public awareness and sensitivity related to the preservation of one of Gloucester’s most prominent natural resources. The timetable for acquisition is to secure funding commitments by the end of 2012 and the transfer of land in early 2013.

For Further Reading

Published in Gloucester Daily Times
CPA Cash Eyed for Buying Brierneck Site, April 5, 2012
Editorial: Brierneck Deal an Ideal Use of CPA Dollars, April 6, 2012
City Eyes Borrowing to Buy Brierneck, July 7, 2012
Editorial: Funding Brierneck Purchase Worth City's Investment, July 8, 2012
Brierneck Deal Tops CPA List, July 25, 2012
Letter: Brierneck Purchase Is a Good Deal for City, August 11, 2012
Should City Spend $750,000 on Brierneck?, August 14, 2012
Councilors Nix Loan for Brierneck Site, August 16, 2012
Editorial: Rejection of Brierneck Deal an Opportunity Lost, August 21, 2012
Produced by FOGH
Brierneck Property History, 1900-2011
Proposal for CPA Funding, March 16, 2012
Fund Raising for the Good Harbor Gateway Property Acquisition
For more information or comments on this project, interested persons may send an email to FOGH which will be forwarded to the project coordinator (select Contact Us on the sidebar menu).