City rejects Dogtown National Register nomination

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City rejects Dogtown National Register nomination

One of Dogtown's famous Babson boulders- inscribed with an inspirational phrase.

One of Dogtown's famous Babson boulders- inscribed with an inspirational phrase.

One of Dogtown's famous Babson boulders- inscribed with an inspirational phrase.

One of Dogtown's famous Babson boulders- inscribed with an inspirational phrase.

WILLA BROSNIHAN, Staff Writer

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Last night the Gloucester City Council voted to reject the Historical Commission’s proposal to nominate Dogtown to the National Register of Historic Places. The votes were 2 in favor, 8 opposed, one abstained.

Opponents to the nomination expressed concern that National Register status would take away local control in the area, encroach on private property, and change the natural beauty of Dogtown.

Co-Chairs of the historical commission, Mary Ellen Lepionka and Bill Remsen, stressed in their presentation that being on the National Register of Historic Places would make it possible for the city to apply for grants to maintain the area. The City Council could choose which grants to apply for, allowing them to only accept funding that doesn’t impose restrictions on local use.

“City resources are tight and they probably always will be,” said Lepionka. “National Register listing has the potential to attract new funding to help preserve Dogtown.”

If federal funds were received for the preservation of historic landmarks in Dogtown, a review would be conducted to assess the environmental impact of any improvements. Funds could also go to environmental projects such as reintroducing native species of plants and clearing trash to protect the watershed.

Department of Public Works Director Michael Hale opposed the nomination, advocating instead for the formation of a Management Plan. “It’s the unintended consequences that I’m worried about,” said Hale. “How will this restrict us?”

Hale plans to have a plan in place to maintain the Dogtown woods by the fall.

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