One of the interesting comments from U.S. Congressman Edward Markey during his conference with town officials was that Winthrop could become a tourist destination in the manner of Newburyport in the years to come. Congressman Markey was in town to re-affirm his strong commitment to the commuter ferry project (Markey was instrumental in securing the federal grant for the project) and he spoke about the positive impact the ferry could have on the town.
With an influx of visitors to the town via the ferry, there is the potential for new businesses to spring up in the town. We think of the quaint little shops and restaurants that make a town like Rockport a draw for visitors and a town like Marblehead and its Old Marblehead district a must-see for North Shore tourists. Those towns also host major festivals and activities.
Town Council President Jeffrey Turco applauded Markey’s commitment to Winthrop’s future, but he did raise a great point: Is the town ready to make its own commitment to become a place that will draw thousands of tourists? Do townspeople want it to become a destination for tourists?
Any plans for Winthrop’s growth would have to involve additional funding from outside sources. An additional police presence would be needed to handle thousands of visitors arriving in Winthrop via ferry or automobile or shuttle buses, which also would create a challenge for parking and traffic in the town.
The Town Council, the Planning Board, and the Chamber of Commerce and its hard-working executive director, Eric Gaynor, all need to weigh in on the matter of Winthrop’s potential for future growth once the ferry is up and running, also taking into account the potential crowds that will come from the proposed casino at Suffolk Downs, just a short distance away from Winthrop.