Family Lands State Loan to Revitalize 136-Year-Old Gloucester Wharf

October 16, 2010 : Gloucester Times, by Patrick Anderson

A longtime Gloucester fishing family has secured financing to rebuild their 136-year-old East Gloucester wharf.

Purchased in 2008, the wharf, next to Beacon Marine, is used primarily as a base for fishing boats, including the two Santapaola family boats that have recently drawn attention for their success at offshore tuna fishing.

In recent years, the Santapaolas’ cement wharf, like many along Gloucester Harbor, has deteriorated. The rehabilitation project will rebuild old support pilings and replace damaged decking.

“It is usable right now, but it has been so long since anything has been done,” Pauline Santapaola said of the wharf. “It is going to be a slow process and it is definitely not going to be cheap. But it will be worth it. It is a great property.”

Financing for the project is coming from a $100,000 low-interest loan from MassDevelopment, a state economic development agency. MassDevelopment underwrites development projects it considers to have a positive public benefit as well as financial viability.

“The wharf is a small but important piece of Gloucester’s storied fishing history that connects today’s workers with their predecessors going back as far as the nineteenth century,” MassDevelopment CEO Robert Culver said in a prepared statement.

“Given its age,” he said, “the wharf will receive needed repairs to maintain its role as an integral part of the East Gloucester fishing community.”

Santapaola said family members have been making minor repairs to the wharf on their own, but the loan will allow them to bring in a large contractor to finish the rehabilitation.

She said she hopes the wharf project can get started before the beginning of winter.

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