BEVERLY — When it comes to the major issues facing the city, there hasn’t been a whole lot of disagreement between Wes Slate and Mike Cahill.
But voters who head to the polls on Tuesday will have at least one topic on which to scrutinize the two mayoral candidates.
Cahill and Slate disagree on the way to resolve the seemingly intractable problem of opening the city’s working waterfront for development.
Slate says the city has no choice but to pursue the current strategy under Mayor Bill Scanlon of winning its legal battle against Beverly Port Marina owners Frank and Suzanne Kinzie, whose appeals have held up a proposal to build a restaurant next to their property for seven years.
“When the city or any party is up against another party who says, ‘If we don’t get what we want, no one gets anything,’ the only avenue you have is in the courts,” Slate said during a debate at the Centerville Improvement Society. “That’s the course the city has chosen, and I support that.”
Cahill, meanwhile, said the city needs to work cooperatively with the Kinzies to realize its vision of a waterfront with a mix of shops and restaurants and a full harborfront walkway.
“Right now it’s a win-lose, and that’s not what the people of the city want,” Cahill said. “This has been very personalized between the administration and Port Marina.”
The legal hang-up revolves around Beverly Harbor’s classification as one of the state’s 11 designated port areas, or DPAs. The designation is designed to preserve its character as a working waterfront for commercial fishing and boatyards, and it imposes restrictions on “non-water-dependent” development.
In 2006, the city accepted a proposal by restaurant owner Joseph Leone to build a Black Cow restaurant on city-owned land now occupied by a former McDonald’s restaurant.