City announces Sailwinds-Parks relationship end

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CAMBRIDGE — The City Council meeting on Jan. 12 started with a terse public statement made by Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley regarding Sailwinds: “City representatives and representatives of the Jerome J. Parks Companies, Inc., were unable to come to agreement on provisions of a master development agreement on Dec. 31, 2014, when the exclusive negotiating privilege period expired. The Jerome J. Parks Companies requested an extension of the exclusive negotiating privilege period. The City Council discussed their request under advisement, and decided not to grant their request.”

The expiration of the exclusive negotiating period with the Parks Companies, of Annapolis, appears to mean that Sailwinds may be back to “square one,” but work is going forward to repair/replace the wharf, although without the necessity of closing Governors Hall, according to a statement issued by Commissioner Donald Sydnor.

“Concerning Governors Hall,” Commissioner Sydnor said, “because of the situation we have with the ENP not being extended, we agreed to continue Governors Hall until Oct. 31. The reason it’s been extended to Oct. 31 and not longer is because we’re in the second phase of the engineering and construction of the (new) wharf.”

The city will receive a report on the condition of the foundation of Governors Hall, once demolition and further inspection of the wharf begins. “The report will tell us if Governors Hall will be stabilized enough to remain there while the wharf is being constructed,” Commissioner Sydnor said. “We will not know that for sure until we get that report back.”

Depending on the results of the inspection, expected in April, Commissioner Sydnor said the city will be able to determine if Governors Hall can remain in use past Oct. 31.

We asked Bruce Reed, vice chairman of Sailwinds of Cambridge, Inc., if this was good news. He issued a statement to The Banner as follows: “No event venue can operate well in fits and starts with erratic extensions of operation granted and no plan for the future,” Mr. Reed said. “This extension means we can figure out how to accommodate those few events that have been good enough to wait and not book elsewhere or give up on their plans. Our bookings are off two thirds from last year at this point. Rumors that we are closed have made the rounds, but the utility bills and expenses continue every month.

“The citizens of Cambridge have made it clear they prefer a public venue over a hotel and townhouses,” he continued. “The covenants attached to the deed on the property require the city to either keep Governor’s Hall or make real plans to replace it, or they risk losing state funding for the bulkhead repair. A major study showed the economic value of this public venue to Cambridge and Dorchester County. It’s time for the Mayor and Council to end the secret meetings and work together with those who want a plan for this property that benefits everyone.”

Generally, the freedom to move forward with a new developer or new ideas seems to be taken as a good thing. Third Ward Commissioner Frank Cooke told us, “We will have fewer restrictions (with the design and use of the property). We inherited the Parks Companies with the property. So at this point we are open to a lot more. It could be other developers, it could be our own (ideas), we have time to think about what it is we’ll do.”

First Ward Commissioner Jackie Vickers seemed pleased with the decision. “Sailwinds development, as it moves forward is going to be an agenda item, for the public to have input, and I’m looking forward to that.”

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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