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THE ARGUMENT

Should Plymouth Town Meeting approve the proposed funding for the Water Street promenade project?

 

YES

Anthony F. Provenzano Jr.

Vice chairman, Plymouth Board of Selectmen

Handout

Anthony F. Provenzano Jr.

When the Pilgrims first arrived in Plymouth, they were impressed with its harbor, seeing opportunity to make a new life and, in part, make their living from the sea. Nearly 400 years later, the people of Plymouth are still rightly proud of our harbor, which draws tourists from around the globe and is a vibrant, working engine of our local economy. Last revitalized some hundred years ago, the time has come for this harbor to be reborn, to more fully take advantage of this bounteous gift of nature.

The proposed waterfront promenade plan would greatly enhance the ability of tourists and locals alike to move about the harbor shorefront. Enhanced pedestrian access would replace the narrow and crowded sidewalks. A stroll from Plymouth Rock to the newly-reconstructed Town Wharf would be an inviting and exciting prospect, connecting the pedestrian to Plymouth’s unique history, cultural heritage, and a truly working harbor. Observation and relaxation pavilions along the way would allow clear views of the comings and goings of our local lobstering fleet and the many pleasure craft that call Plymouth home port.

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Planned enhanced seawall reconstruction would allow us to cope with extraordinary events of wind and wave, and properly prepare us for ever-rising ocean levels. Roadway improvements would allow for safer vehicle movements and efficient and safe use of our limited parking space. Enhanced storm drainage systems would help keep our harbor waters clean.

None of this will come cheaply, and we ask town taxpayers to make a substantial commitment of nearly $17 million to make this plan a reality. But not without help from the Commonwealth, which has awarded this project a $1.7 million MassWorks grant toward that total, in recognition of the economic development potential this project can unleash. There may be even more state support: We hope to hear shortly if we were successful in our application for a Seawall Grant.

In the end, though, this is our town. And this is our waterfront. It is the crown jewel of our economic prosperity and our economic future. If we don’t invest in ourselves, no one else will.

NO

Alan M. Costello

Plymouth Precinct 10 Town Meeting member

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Alan M. Costello.

An article before Plymouth’s fall Town Meeting on Oct. 21 sought funding for a redesign of the waterfront in anticipation of the 400th anniversary in 2020 of the landing of the Pilgrims. The price tag was $16.9 million to the Plymouth taxpayer. The article required a two-thirds majority vote to pass. It failed. The 41 members who voted “No” were not against the project -- just the price tag. Concerned about the rapidly rising tax rate in Plymouth, it was difficult to say “yes.” Now the matter comes before us again on Dec. 6.

The proposal was presented as the final phase of an ongoing waterfront beautification project that’s been going on for four years. Unfortunately, this new phase is the most expensive phase of the project by a factor of three. The design calls for a beautiful boardwalk, shade stations, wider sidewalks, and an overall nicer waterfront experience. However, it does have negative drawbacks. The waterfront would lose up to 17 parking spaces in an area with very little parking. Plus, waterfront merchants would endure an additional two years of construction disruptions. But the number one concern for many Town Meeting members is the cost.

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A just-received state grant of $1.7 million was announced on the Town Meeting floor. There may be an additional $3 million grant coming. Even so, this project would still carry a price tag of $12.2 million. The one-third of the Town Meeting members who voted “no” are concerned about upcoming big-ticket tax liabilities on the horizon.

There is a $50 million failed sewer line expense due to hit the taxpayer shortly. We are paying off about $100 million in debt for two new high schools. A $50 million clean water project is slated for the southern and middle of the town, along with a potential $135 million road repavement article. We’ve been told that our town budget increases will no longer fall within the 2.5 percent annual cap, so overrides are in our future. Fiscally responsible Town Meeting members are finding it difficult to justify a $12 million beautification project, no matter how nice it is. It’s just too much for the average Plymouth taxpayer.

Last week’s argument: Should Marshfield ban the retail use of plastic bags?

Yes: 86 percent (48 votes)

No: 14 percent (8 votes)


As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler He can be reached at laidler@globe.com.