Gloucester to Receive 2015 Commonwealth Award For Leadership in Arts and Culture

The City of Gloucester was pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) will recognize the community’s leadership in promoting arts and culture with the 2015 Commonwealth Award in the Creative Community category.  The Commonwealth Awards, which honor exceptional achievement in the arts, humanities, and sciences, will be presented on Tuesday, February 24th at a State House ceremony.

Rocky Nect gallery

(image courtesy of Rocky Neck Cultural District)

“Gloucester is extremely proud of its fishing identity and maritime heritage. We are equally proud to be recognized as a community that promotes and supports arts, culture, and the important contributions that artists make to our growing creative economy,” said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. “From the new Cultural Center at Rocky Neck to the renovation of the Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester has emphasized cultural revitalization as a centerpiece of the City’s past, present and future.”

Waterfront skyline sunset

(image courtesy of Rocky Neck Cultural District)

In 2012 Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Cultural District became one of the first cultural districts designated in Massachusetts.  The same year, the Gloucester HarborWalk was unveiled as a showcase for the city’s working waterfront, beloved cultural institutions and world-class artists. In 2013, Gloucester became the first community in Massachusetts to be granted two cultural district designations with unanimous approval of the Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District by the MCC. Gloucester received the prestigious designations because of its unparalleled setting along the boundaries of the working waterfront and its rich concentration of museums, performing arts spaces, studios, galleries, and unique locally owned shops and restaurants.

CC inside

(image courtesy of Rocky Neck Cultural District)

Presented biennially since 1993, the Commonwealth Awards honor the extraordinary contributions made by the arts, humanities, and sciences to education, economic vitality, and quality of life in Massachusetts. Past winners include leading artists and scholars such as Yo-Yo Ma, Olympia Dukakis, and David McCullough; world-renowned institutions like Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and the Peabody Essex Museum, and communities that have made arts and culture central to their revitalization efforts.

The Commonwealth Awards ceremony is a free event that is open to the public. To register, please visit http://www.massculturalcouncil.org.

City secures $310,000 Coastline Protection grant to re-establish coastal floodplain in the Little River

Little River

The City of Gloucester Community Development Department has received a $310,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs to re-establish a floodplain and restore the habitat in the Little River near the West Gloucester Water Treatment Plant. Gloucester received a Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Coastal Resilience Grants Program as part of a larger initiative to reduce risks associated with coastal storms, erosion and sea level rise. The Commonwealth awarded a total of $1.5 million to seven cities and towns. City officials were thrilled with the announcement.

“The City of Gloucester understands the importance of proactively addressing the impacts of climate change,” said Mayor Carolyn A. Kirk. “Projects like the Little River floodplain project will ensure the maintenance of invaluable shoreline ecosystems for future generations to come.”

Little River 2

Image courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester

The City will use the CZM grant to re-establish a coastal floodplain by removing concrete structures and fill that dates back to the onset of operations at the Water Treatment Plant in West Gloucester. A new salt marsh will be created using bioengineering techniques, which will buffer the shoreline from future storm damage and improve the habitat for native species in the Little River estuary. The CZM Coastal Resilience Grants Program provides local communities with funding and technical resources for planning, feasibility assessment, design, permitting, construction and monitoring of green infrastructure projects that use natural approaches such erosion-control vegetation, restored coastal floodplains and new salt marsh habitats as viable alternatives to traditional structures like seawalls.

CZM logo

The Little River project is part of a broader effort by the City of Gloucester to comprehensively address potential climate change impacts on the city’s 62 miles of shoreline, which is subject to erosion and flooding during coastal storms. Earlier this year, the CZM awarded the City a $50,000 grant to develop a community-based Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. The City used the funds to contract Consultants from Kleinfelder and The Woods Hole Group, who will utilize scenario planning to help the public and city officials understand the range of possible conditions and effect of actions and inaction.

Based on this planning and future public input, consultants and the City will develop recommendations in areas such as land use, capital planning, and infrastructure development.  The project is under the oversight of a working group comprised of representatives from city departments, the City Council, Planning Board, Conservation Commission and Clean Energy Commission.

Gloucester Harbor Plan Wins State Approval

Gloucester_MA_-_harbour

The City has learned that the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs approved Gloucester’s Municipal Harbor Plan on December 19th. The MHP represents progress following creation of the 2009 Plan. The new MHP is designed to provide a data-driven foundation for maritime economy expansion and framework for simplified permitting that will encourage new investment on the working waterfront.

State officials stated that the 2014 MHP “serves to promote and protect the core marine and water-dependent industrial composition of the DPA, while providing for the local goals of enhanced support of the commercial fishing industry, expansion of water-dependent industry, and continued allowances for flexibility in supporting DPA uses.”

The administration of Mayor Carolyn A. Kirk built the plan with the goal of providing more flexibility for waterfront growth while protecting the historic fishing industry.

The MHP was overwhelming endorsed by the Gloucester Harbor Plan Committee in July. The plan includes development tools to promote growth such as a simpler regulatory framework that will encourage a healthy blend of mixed-use and protection of the core water dependent industrial zone. It was based upon the City’s first-ever, in-depth, data-driven analysis of maritime opportunities (including detailed dockage and fishing vessel study conducted by the Fisheries Commission and Urban Harbors Institute, UMass Boston.)

The MHP seeks to leverage the data and a pending economic opportunity analysis of Gloucester’s fishery, tourism, and diversified/compatible working waterfront industries in the fishing port (opportunities such as marine genomics, robotics, and research) to spur continued investment in new businesses and job creation on the working waterfront.

Linzee Coolidge Award Recognizes Extraordinary Philanthropic Contributions

This week, the City of Gloucester was pleased to announce the creation of the Linzee Coolidge Philanthropy Award. This extraordinary honor will forever recognize individuals who demonstrate substantial and sustained contributions to the City in the tradition of Linzee Coolidge, who has contributed more than $3.6 million to dozens of worthy community causes and organizations since 2011.

Linzee

(image courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester)

Linzee Coolidge and his wife Elizabeth “Beth” Coolidge have supported a broad range of initiatives in Gloucester, including Cape Ann Animal Aid shelter, restoration of Gloucester City Hall, renovation of Newell Stadium, restoration of Schooner Adventure, Ocean Alliance, Maritime Gloucester, the Gloucester Education Foundation, the Rocky Neck Arts Colony, Addison Gilbert Hospital, Gloucester Committee for the Arts, and the Open Door food pantry.

Scooner Adventure

(image courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester)

The Linzee Coolidge Philanthropy Award is designed to foster substantial and ongoing altruistic contributions to the community. Moving forward, it will serve as the community’s highest level of recognition for giving and will only be presented to individuals who demonstrate substantial generosity and contributions to the City that meet or exceed the level of lifetime contributions in the tradition of Mr. Coolidge.  An award committee comprised of four citizens appointed by the Mayor of Gloucester will review applications and determine future Coolidge Award honorees.

Linzee Cape Ann Animal Aid

(image courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester)

A medallion bearing the phrase “Generosity, Inspiration, Caring, Cooperation” was presented to Coolidge on Tuesday, December 16th in the Kyrouz Auditorium at City Hall. In her remarks, Gloucester Mayor Carolyn A. Kirk stated that “nothing gives me greater pleasure than announcing the creation of a prestigious award in recognition of Linzee Coolidge’s exceptional philanthropy in the city.”

Gloucester-Town-Hall-Reno

(image courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester)

“Linzee has touched the lives of so many people and supported countless worthy causes in Gloucester,” said Mayor Kirk. “His leadership in supporting community programs large and small deserved to be forever venerated as a model of giving back.”

Newell Stadium

(image courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester)

Coolidge, who is a direct descendant of President Thomas Jefferson and retired real estate investor, has served on boards of organizations like the Boston Athenaeum, St. Mark’s School and Brigham & Woman’s Hospital.

Tourism in ’14: Banner Year For Gloucester

3

Tourism in ’14: Banner Year For Gloucester

By Carol Thistle

With a record-setting 2014 tourism season in the books, a look back shows that the community enjoyed a year filled with memorable events, exciting grand openings and a steady stream of visitors. Please enjoy this quick review at some of our successes as the city prepares for an even better 2015!

Welcome Back Cape Ann Museum

Art lovers finally exhaled when the Cape Ann Museum reopened in August following year-long renovations. The 131-year-old institution wowed residents, patrons and critics alike. In particular, the 10-foot-tall lighthouse lens piece and the delightful remodeled lobby embodied the museum’s inspiring approach to design and presentation.

Cape Ann Museum

(image courtesy of WGBH)

HarborWalk Summer Cinema Series Sizzles

From timeless classics like E.T. to recent hits like The Lego Movie, families and film buffs could not get enough of the inaugural HarborWalk Summer Cinema Series. Organizers reported over 6,000 people attended eight movie nights, including many who watched the season finale, Jaws, on a rainy night. Given the initial success, we can’t wait for the sequel!

   Summer Cinema logo

Summer Cinema outdoors

(images courtesy of Gloucester HarborWalk)

An Eventful Summer

A delightful summer weather season welcomed thousands of people who came to Gloucester to enjoy music, art, sailing, sports, and much more. The Cape Ann Artisans Tour, Nights on the Neck, the Downtown Gloucester Block Party Series, Rapha Super Cross Gloucester, the Blues Festival, the Water Festival and the Schooner Festival were among the many happenings that showcased the city’s charm, culture and history.

1

(images courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester.com)

Visitors Center Gets Star Treatment

The Stage Fort Park Visitors Center enjoyed rave reviews after receiving a much-needed makeover, including a new roof, a new video monitor that features documentary shorts and a new interior layout that is more open and accessible. The center even added rocking chair seating on the veranda!

Visitor Center

(image courtesy of Good Morning Gloucester.com)

During the May-October tourism season, 35 volunteers and staff greeted more than 16,600 visitors from across the USA, Europe, Canada and beyond. The Center greeted more than 1,000 additional visitors this year than 2013!

Thanks to the Tourism Commission for working hard to provide a great facility that properly welcomes thousands of visitors from across the world to the spectacular view of the harbor and beauty of a landmark location.

Read All About It! Gloucester’s A Great Place to Visit

It’s not every day that the New York Times publishes a travel feature article about the city. In August, the nation’s best known daily newspaper promoted Gloucester as a destination that would delight art lovers, foodies, and whale watchers.

NY Times clip

The article took a special look at the Schooner Ardelle and builder/skipper Harold Burnham, who noted “If you don’t do something to keep these original traditions alive, they will be gone forever.”

Holiday Happenings: Gloucester Celebrates Season of Lights

buoy_painting

The holiday spirit is in the air and this weekend, Gloucester will glow thanks to a number of wonderful free activities.

The best known event is the Lobster Trap Tree Lighting ceremony, which will take place on Saturday December 13th at 5:00 p.m. The event reflects the City’s historic ties to the sea and Gloucester’s unrivaled creative community. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but thanks to the amazing work of children from Cape Ann Art Haven, the 2014 ‘tree’ will surely be the most colorful and joyful in all of New England!

Lobster Pot Tree NY Times

(image courtesy of NYTimes.com)

Before the trap tree lighting ceremony takes place, Art Haven will host buoy painting for children from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at its Main Street studio. These works will be affixed to the tree outside the police station. Organizers say local lobsterman and women will donate up to 350 traps for the tree’s construction (in the New Year, Art Haven will auction the buoys at its annual fundraising event.)

Before the tree glows anew, the 17th annual Middle Street March will imbue the Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District with the spirit of the season. The fun starts at City Hall, which is hosting the annual Gingerbread House Contest & Display (note: Entries must be delivered to City Hall and registered no later than noon on Friday.) The Cape Ann Museum will provide ornament decorating at City Hall while would be ice-sculptors are encouraged to stop by the corner of Pleasant and Main Streets to learn more about this wintertime art.

Middle Street Event Sargent House

(image courtesy of Sargent House Museum Blog)

There are so many Middle Street performances, open houses and activities, we could not possibly list them all here, but popular events include the holiday fair at the Unitarian Universalist Church’s Vestry; the seARTs Wearable Art & Home Décor Holiday Show at the Saunders House; Bell Ringers at Trinity Congregational Church; Queen Elsa from Disney’s Frozen at the Sawyer Free Library; performances by the Gloucester High School Chorus, the Cape Ann Big Band, and Plum Cove Swingers, and the one-act play “Mingling of Souls from Sorrow to Joy” at the UU Church. There’s plenty for the kids to do as well, including making s’mores, storytelling, and free photos with Santa! For a complete schedule of events, visit Middle Street Walk’s website at http://middlestreetwalk.org/85-2/.

Folks who are looking to get their holiday festivities started a bit early are encouraged to visit the Rose Baker Senior Center Christmas Fair, which takes place on Thursday, December 11th and Friday December 12th. The fair features baked holiday treats, crafts, jewelry, books, puzzles and more.

After the big weekend, Temple Ahavat Achim will celebrate Hanukkah—the Jewish “Festival of Lights” that dates back to 160 B.C.— on Tuesday, December 16th. This year’s fiesta at the Middle Street synagogue features a first-of-its-kind and truly Gloucester-inspired “Lobster Trap Menorah”! Be sure to come by Temple Ahavat Achim when the first candle is lit at 5:30 p.m. followed by a reception and plenty of latkes (potato pancakes), the traditional holiday treat.

Boston Globe: The future of Gloucester could be in biotech

Verdine

Globe logo

By Shirley Leung

GLOBE STAFF

DECEMBER 03, 2014

GLOUCESTER — There has been a lot of crying over the future of this centuries-old port and its fishermen. Are there enough cod for another generation, or should tourism be the new life line? Mayor Carolyn Kirk and serial entrepreneur Greg Verdine are casting about for yet another option: biotechnology hub.

It sounds like a pipe dream in a petri dish until you realize that Verdine, a Harvard professor and partner at Third Rock Ventures, is someone who could make this happen. Verdine came close a decade ago when he hatched the idea for a new cancer drug here at his home on Eastern Point. He named the startup Gloucester Pharmaceuticals but soon realized this fishing town didn’t have the infrastructure to support a biotech. He couldn’t get permits to open a research and development center and there wasn’t even a business hotel — one with Wi-Fi and conference rooms — to put up prospective investors.

“Venture capitalists,” said Verdine, “aren’t going to stay at ‘whatever-it-is-by-the-sea.’’’

So he had to grow Gloucester Pharmaceuticals elsewhere, and in 2009, its drug to treat two forms of leukemia won approval from the Food and Drug Administration. With a hot discovery blessed by the FDA, Gloucester was scooped up for more than $600 million by biopharmaceutical giant Celgene.

“Not a single dollar was spent in Gloucester,” said Verdine. “To me, that was a tragedy.”

You can’t help but feel he’s trying to make it up to the city he loves dearly — his Twitter handle is @glostaman — with his push to diversify Gloucester’s economy. Roughly a third of the jobs are tied to fishing and marine-related sectors. Verdine’s plan involves building a sustainable fishing industry as well as luring biotech jobs to the area with a skilled labor force and views of the waterfront.

Much of what Verdine is able to do in Gloucester these days has been made possible by New Balance chairman Jim Davis, who also has a house here. Davis is an investor in a growing collection of projects that are being developed by local businesswoman Sheree Zizik. Among them are the Beauport Hotel, a 96-room property that broke ground earlier this month and will finally allow Gloucester to accommodate business travelers, and Scienceport, a waterfront building where Verdine plans to house a marine science institute and a biotech.

Amid the long-simmering controversy over how to count the cod stock, Verdine believes scientists should sequence the DNA of fish. He launched a nonprofit, the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, to do that and believes that scientists should study the fish’s microbiome — or what the rest of us would call poop. The reasoning: It’s hard to count fish because they’re on the move; instead count what they leave behind.

A more accurate count could go a long way toward figuring out how to replenish the cod population, which the federal government is so concerned about that it recently imposed sharp restrictions on catches in the Gulf of Maine. Verdine is also exploring the idea of Gloucester raising its own fish. Over the summer, he and Kirk visited fish farms in Japan. The types of species that could thrive in Gloucester Harbor will depend on the water temperature, and a team from Japan will come in the spring to help sort that out.

Talk to Kirk and her eyes widen with the possibility of hatcheries for sea bass, black cod, and flounder.

“It’s opening another channel to bring fish across the docks in Gloucester,” said Kirk, who recently gave me a tour of her city after lunch at the popular seafood restaurant The Causeway.

Verdine hopes the Scienceport will be done in 2016. It will feature a laboratory, innovation space, and a 250-seat auditorium open to the public. He is also starting a Gloucester Life Science Academy, which will give local high school graduates year-long apprenticeships at Boston-area companies.

Over his career, Verdine has launched 10 companies, including four that have gone public. He currently is chief executive of Warp Drive Bio, a Cambridge life sciences company that derives drugs from the genomes of microorganisms.

“What I am most proud of is that I have put a lot of people to work,” he said.

Now he’s trying to create some of those jobs in Gloucester. It would be quite a catch.

Shirley Leung is a Globe columnist.