The verdict from the poll is in but it really isn’t as simple as saying, well 64% voted for the aluminum fix and 36% voted for the wooden fix so we’ll put up the aluminum span. As with just about everything, it’s way more complicated than that. If you would allow me to,
I’d like to share some of the feedback we’ve received and how we plan on proceeding from here.
In addition to the polling results, there have been many thoughtful email and Facebook messages and phone calls that have come through my office or DPW. An artist sent a picture of the beautiful Milton Avery painting of a couple walking across the footbridge. Another person sent a picture of what was thought to be the actual wooden bridge that washed away and into the marsh by Stop & Shop. Turns out, that was the section of the bridge that washed away in 2006!! This past winter it has moved into a position where it can be retrieved and DPW will remove it.
People sent links to other “synthetic” solutions, and links to other wooden bridge examples. And of course, your display today was beautiful. A lot of questions have come up as well, and I will do my best to answer them.
Cost is clearly a factor that is on people’s minds. $65,000 seemed to be outrageous for the wooden fix. That estimate is for an outsourced solution, i.e., not using our DPW.
The timetable seemed troubling to some people. We were required to go through a Conservation Commission review, and that takes a number of weeks in addition we had to wait to get the estimate and plan for the fix before proceeding to ConCom.
The way we put the poll out there, it wasn’t clear if we were talking about temporary fixes or permanent fixes. Basically, ConCom has said, “this is the last temporary fix (however we do it).” The city is encouraged to come back with a permanent plan that addresses the resource area, takes into consideration the structural integrity of the rest of the bridge, and perhaps is redesigned to withstand the types of storms and tidal surges we are experiencing. Neither choice in the poll addressed these issues.
Then the question of the Magnolia Pier came up. This is one of those quirky things about how our waterways are governed. The city has responsibility for the Good Harbor Footbridge, but the Harbormaster and the Waterways Board have responsibility for the Magnolia Pier!
And then of course, some people wanted the best of both worlds – New England charm and Yankee ingenuity which I take to mean a more cost effective solution that preserves the iconic character of the footbridge.
A couple of people suggested a “buy a plank” program where if you got married on the bridge or the beach, you could buy an engraved plank to help offset the cost of the repairs. Sort of like a memorial bench or brick program.
So – here’s what it’s come down to. DPW Director Mike Hale and I met today, and we’ve decided to use our DPW guys to do a wooden repair. I have directed him to retask some of his staff, order the materials and start immediately. While this will save the city about $60,000 it reduces the manpower that DPW can devote to all those other things citizens find important (which is why outsourcing was an attractive option).
We will formulate a Building Committee as required by the City Charter and pursue a permanent redesign. The Committee can take the time to go through all ideas, and do this right.
Joey, thank you for allowing me to pose the poll to the GoodMorningGloucester readers. Most importantly, I appreciate the spark of discussion and ideas that ensued.