Essential Step To Renewal of Echo Bay Waterfront
As you know from previous bulletins, the renewal of the Echo Bay shoreline is among the City’s central priorities. We envision a mixed-use development featuring extensive open space, a continuous shoreline promenade, and appropriately-scaled housing and shops on a roughly twenty-acre site. Achieving this goal depends upon the relocation of certain existing uses in the area, principally the City’s public works facility (“City Yard”), where our sanitation fleet and other DPW functions are maintained.
To accomplish this end, the City conducted an extensive search of potential relocation sites and eventually settled upon a roughly five acre property on Beechwood Avenue, wedged between (and partially underneath) I-95 and a railroad line. This location was deemed by our Public Works professionals to be the best available from both an operational and cost perspective.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the new City Yard site was released a few weeks ago and was the subject of a public hearing earlier this month. Naturally, the new site has drawn some opposition, as any proposed site would, but the DEIS suggests that the likely impacts are modest and easily amenable to mitigation.
We should and will work to ensure that the new City Yard is respectful of its surroundings and designed with input from affected residents and property owners, but in my judgment, there is no serious alternative to the Beechwood location. Rejection of this site would, at a minimum, set back our Echo Bay renewal efforts for years and cost the City millions of dollars. More probably, it would extinguish our plans for the waterfront entirely. Proceeding with the new City Yard is, therefore, essential to the broad public interest and will constitute a major step forward in our vision for an enhanced shoreline.