Expanded Gloucester Block Party series gets underway on Saturday with talent and tunes

The 8th annual Gloucester Block Party event series kicks off at 6:00 p.m. this Saturday, June 20th with a special Glosta’s Got Talent competition for all ages and all skills! Inspired by the hit TV series America’s Got Talent, Gloucester’s Main Street will come alive at Center Stage when performers from Cape Ann come out to perform before friends, family and neighbors alike.

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(Image courtesy of David Cox)

All GGT entrants will be eligible for a chance to win a cash prize and to perform at three upcoming block parties this summer. The GGT contest, which gets underway at 7:00 p.m., will feature special judges Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Safier and David Wesson, a local actor, singer/songwriter and chaplain.

Dancers- Gloucester Block Party

(Image courtesy of David Cox)

The exciting first Block Party of the season offers a preview for even bigger events to come, including a Mardi Gras-themed Carnivale on Main (July 18th), a Seaside Shenanigans theme (August 15th) and a Sails and Tails theme (September 4th) to celebrate Gloucester Schooner Festival. As always, these free, fun and family-friendly events will boast programs teeming with activity, including live music, street performers, a photo booth, children’s activities, and more. Of course, Main Street retailers and restaurants will be open to serve attendees.

Live music is sure to please as Boston-based Soul Rebel Project performs Caribbean-inspired reggae rock music, T. Max presents Minglewood Shuffle, and Chris & Joe make mellow music.

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Also this weekend, look for the special guest face painter, a hula hoop dancer, and special kid’s games sponsored by the YMCA. Special highlights of the first Block Party include A Dog’s Got Talent beauty competition judged by Animal Krackers’ pet supply store.

Thanks to all of the participating restaurants this weekend: Dogbar, Short & Main, Jalapenos, Cafe Bishco and The Topside Grill. The Slush Queen will also provide frozen treats. And special thanks to Sponsors and Contributors, including Gold Sponsors Pop Gallery, Latitude 43 and Alchemy; Sponsors Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and Harbor Goods/Life is Good and Contributors TBT Post, Premier Imprints and The Cave.

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That’s not all when it comes to Gloucester Block Parties in 2015! As Mayor Romeo Theken announced earlier this year, the City will participate in some of the other neighborhood Block Party events. Stay tuned for more information.

For more information, please visit www.gloucesterblockparty.com.

City to Host Final Coastal Vulnerability Study Meeting on June 16th

The City of Gloucester’s Community Development Department will hold the final presentation for the ongoing Coastal Vulnerability Study on Tuesday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m. at  Maritime Gloucester, 23 Harbor Loop. The Coastal Vulnerability Study was undertaken as a yearlong process to identify potential flood risks due to storm surge while taking into account future sea level rise.

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(courtesy of Salem Evening News)

“The City is working as a team to understand rising sea levels to make sure that Gloucester is prepared,” said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. “The ocean means everything to Gloucester so climate change is one of the most important issues the City will confront in the 21st Century.”

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The City received a $50,000 EEA grant to hire a consultant, Kleinfelder Engineering.  Kleinfelder produced a complex model of both current and future flooding potential along the 62 miles of Gloucester’s shoreline. After analyzing data and conducting a risk analysis for all municipal infrastructure that may be affected by flooding, Kleinfelder will present strategies aimed at reducing risk from flooding and increased storm intensity. Kleinfelder’s final report will provide a summary of the process, the baseline information, various scenarios and recommended strategies.

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A working group comprised of representatives from city departments, the City Council, Planning Board, Conservation Commission, and Clean Energy Commission have steered the process.

The final Coastal Vulnerability Study will be posted on the City’s website upon completion and results from the risk analysis model will be incorporated into the City’s online mapping tool.

Gloucester Tourism Advertisement Beckons Visitors To “Love It! Live It! Visit!”

The City of Gloucester’s campaign to take advantage of a promising summer season is underway with the broadcast of a “Love it! Live It! Visit!” tourism advertising campaign in upstate New York and Western Massachusetts.

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The ad, which can be seen here or on You Tube, celebrates the City’s historic fishing fleet, beaches, arts and culture, and the iconic Fisherman’s Memorial Statue, is airing throughout the month in a number of communities that carry Time Warner Cable TV, including Albany.

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The ads, which appear on networks like A&E, Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN, Discovery and National Geographic, also are featured on the celebrated Gloucester reality TV series, “Wicked Tuna.”

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News reports have showcased a growing sense of optimism among New England tourism industry experts and officials that the summer of 2015 may be the best season in years due to an improving economy, lower gas prices, and regional travelers who are eager to enjoy a great summer after record snowfall and cold gripped the region. Across the state, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation home rental agencies report strong advance bookings, another indicator of a strong summer tourism season.

Gloucester Adopts Green Electric Vehicle Program

Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken today announced that City has received delivery of three all electric vehicles. Gloucester entered into an agreement to lease electric­ powered Nissan Leaf vehicles for municipal use. The new equipment will replace older vehicles with low fuel efficiency, eliminate the use of gasoline for three city-operated vehicles, and generate savings of approximately $4,000.00 per year.

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Gloucester is proud to be a Green Community that always seeks to reduce carbon-based emissions and energy consumption,” said Mayor Sefatia Theken Romeo. “This small but important step shows Gloucester is an innovative municipality that is leading the way in the adoption of alternative energy for vehicles.”

Under a Municipal Fleet Incentive program, Gloucester will lease the Nissan LEAF vehicles while receiving a $7,500 Federal Tax Credit and a separate $7,500 MassEVIP grant from Mass. DEP for combined $15,000 savings. In addition to being highly fuel efficient, the LEAFs will remain under warranty for the entire lease and require less maintenance than the existing fleet. Participation in the program will allow the City to provide residents with access to a Level 2 electric vehicle charging station at no cost.

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The Mayor will be presenting the new vehicles and powering the new vehicle charging station at the City Hall Annex, 3 Pond Rd, on Tuesday, June 16 at 3:30 PM.

The greening of the City’s vehicle fleet is part of a larger citywide effort to reduce energy consumption and promote renewable energy. In the upcoming months, Gloucester will be converting streetlights to LED fixtures.

Stage Fort Park Volunteers Tour Visitor Accommodations

The City of Gloucester’s Tourism Commission hosted a “lodging tour” last week for Stage Fort Park Welcome Center volunteers. The event allowed the volunteers, who make recommendations to thousands of park visitors each day, to learn and see firsthand various accommodations in Gloucester. Volunteers from Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce also joined the tour.

In the summer of 2014, volunteers greeted 16,000 plus visitors at the Stage Fort Park Welcome Center.

Stage Fort Visitor Volunteer Tour 1

The Lodging Tour was organized by Carol Thistle from the Community Development Department, Visitor Center volunteer coordinator Kathie Gilson, Castle Manor Inn proprietor Laura Baker and Laura Dow of the Vista Motel.

During the two-day tour, the volunteers visited 19 properties, where they became better acquainted with new rates, renovations, added rooms and amenities at various motels, inns and bed and breakfasts.

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The event is one of a series of ongoing hospitality workshops and tours planned for both Stage Fort Park and Chamber of Commerce volunteers. Anyone in the tourism industry is eligible to participate for free. The next workshop will take place on Thursday, June 11th at the Stage Fort Park Welcome Center from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Steve Winslow of the Community Development Department will showcase the best walking, hiking and biking trails in Gloucester.

Stage Fort Visitor Volunteer Tour 1

For more questions about hospitality workshops, contact Carol Thistle at cthistle@gloucester-ma.gov.

Gloucester Greens O’Maley Innovation School Emissions – and Saves $120,000 Annually

Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and the City of Gloucester announced the completion of the modernization project for the heating system at the O’Maley Innovation School. The installation of a new, high-efficiency natural gas-fired heating and hot water system will save taxpayers $120,000 in annual savings while reducing the school’s carbon footprint by 686 tons of CO2, a 16% decrease from prior oil-fired boilers.

 OMaley School

The new energy system, which operates at a 96% efficient level, will reduce CO2 emissions by the equivalent of removing 131 cars from Gloucester’s streets each year, Mayor Romeo Theken reported. The mayor added that the project showcases the City “taking care of our buildings in a responsible way.”

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The modernization project at the O’Maley School was funded through a $250,000 Green Communities Competitive Grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)—the maximum award available. The grant allowed the City to replace outdated boiler and water heating units at what had been the second-largest energy consuming municipal facility in Gloucester.

Gloucester received the grant through the EEA’s $7.9 million Green Communities program, which funded clean energy projects in 43 cities and towns across Massachusetts. Gloucester attained status as a Green Community in 2010 and continues to work to identify initiatives that will reduce energy consumption and provide environmental benefits.

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The O’Maley Innovation School oil heat system was installed more than 40 years ago and operated at less than 75% efficiency, resulting in excessive carbon emissions and high energy costs.

Gloucester Tourism transitioning to even better future

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Amid seemingly endless snowfall, a  Tourism Transition Committee comprised of key members from the City of Gloucester’s Tourism Commission, the Discover Gloucester-Destination Marketing Organization and the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce have been meeting  since February to collaborate on the creation of a new public private tourism organization.

 

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Cape Ann Chamber

 

This “Tourism Transition Committee,” a temporary working group that will report its findings to the Tourism Commission, is working on the parameters of a new, permanent public/private Tourism organization that allows the visitor economy to speak and act with one voice.

“The visitor economy is such an important part of Gloucester because so many different people and organizations do their part to market the city as a unique destination,” said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. “This effort which has been highly successful will be even stronger by having all the different groups work together. A new public/private organization will ensure that the different aspects of tourism will speak together and act in one voice, while sharing the amazing story that is Gloucester.”

The committee is chaired by Laura Dow, chair of the Gloucester Tourism Commission and owner of the Vista Motel and by Tobin Dominick, president of Discover Gloucester, past Chair of North of Boston Convention and Visitors Burearu and owner of the Cape Ann’s Marina Resort and Mile Marker One Restaurant. Other committee  members include Peter Webber, senior vice president, Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce; Laura Baker, owner of Castle Manor Inn; Karen Ristuben, president and board chair of the Rocky Neck Art Colony; and Linn Parisi, executive director of Discover Gloucester. Carol Thistle, senior project manager from the Community Development Department, is facilitating the group.

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Castle Manor

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The committee reports that  all tourism marketing efforts will continue as planned during the transition period.  Currently the Tourism Commission is working on a television advertising campaign, which includes April ad placement on National Geographic’s “Wicked Tuna” show as well as marketing to audiences in New York and western Massachusetts. The Commission also is beginning plans to open the Stage Fort Park Welcome Center for the season. Discover Gloucester continues to attend consumer and trade shows and will publish the new Discover Gloucester Visitor Guide in May.

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City ordinance required the Tourism Commission to prepare a five-year marketing plan. The City retained consultant Chris Pappas of Open the Door, Inc. to evaluate the existing tourism management and financial model. After interviews of key tourism stakeholders and several community meetings, the Tourism Commission voted to adopt the five year plan , including a new organizational structure, and submit recommendations to Mayor Romeo Theken. The goal of the new public/private tourism organization is to continue and/or expand all current tourism marketing programs with the objective of increasing overnight visitation and tourism spending.