It should have been a more joyous occasion. My son Ben and I were taking his 19-month-old son Isaac to his
As I’ve said, it should have been a happier time. Though a bit overwhelmed by the crowds along the midway, the music from the rides, and the amplified voices announcing games of chance, Isaac seemed to take to Fiesta. Eyes shining with wonder, he refused to be carried by his father or me, rushing instead among the legs of those on their way down
That afternoon we walked all over the Fort, from
Prospective developers have already expressed reservations about this traditional marine industrial neighborhood (one was quoted in the Gloucester Daily Times as saying, “When our guests arrive we want them to know they’ve arrived somewhere”); and one wonders how many of their guests will want to spend a lot of money to stay in a busy neighborhood full of trailer trucks and early risers. What will be the impact of the new hotel on Pavilion beach, which is public and protected as such under Chapter 91? And while I can imagine some hotel guests enthralled by Fiesta, will others on vacation be annoyed by the noise, the crowds, or the smells from the working waterfront—the engines of the fishing vessels, the early morning activity of taking on ice?
During our walk I tried to envision the Fort with a fancy upscale hotel in its midst. All I could think of was that the hotel might ultimately displace the neighbors, the neighborhood, the Fiesta, and all the traditional kinds of single and multi-family housing on the Fort. Once the hotel was in place there could be even greater pressure for gentrification or condos. Then, quite covertly, we would have the beginnings of
I'm not suggesting that a hotel couldn’t be tastefully designed and located in the Fort. One approach might be the concept of a small adaptive reuse hotel that kept the Birdseye tower. These "boutique" hotels have become increasingly popular. Still, I’m concerned about the potential for "collateral damage" in the neighborhood as a consequence of outsize development. I couldn't stop thinking about it as I walked with my little grandson and his father—three generations of Anastases enjoying Fiesta (a forth if my mother, who first took me, were still alive, and a fifth if you include my grandfather Angel Polisson, who also took me)—and suddenly a great sadness came over me, a terrible sense of loss.
What should ultimately have been an occasion of unalloyed joy with my family, my grandson’s first Fiesta, prompted a bittersweet reverie, in which I could imagine all that has meant so much to our family and every other Gloucester family of Fiesta and of the Fort itself, swept away from us if we are not vigilant about protecting our heritage and the very places in which it lives and breaths. Viva San Pietro!