Why Should the City Be So Hesitant to Expand Floating Wetlands in the Inner Harbor?

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Harborview marina

Since the economy tanked in 2008, Dan Naor’s Harborview marina has had at least 1.6 acres worth of unused space, and he’d like to turn it into a jumbo-size version of the handful of floating “wetlands” that currently bob in the harbor, planting rosemallow, sea lavendar, and salt grass to improve the scenery and clean the water. Naor’s plan would also include platforms to allow up-close appreciation of the man-made marsh.

But according to an article in the Sun, government agencies have yet to green-light the project a year after Naor proposed it. Now, of course, approval of a project like this is bound to take some time, as agency after agency verifies that everything is in order, but the primary sticking points for the city struck me as a little misplaced. First off, the city wants to complete construction on its unfinished promenade — a project the city has been attempting to force business owners along the harbor, including Dan Naor, to fund. Secondly, the city is asking Naor to “pledge to remove [the wetland] if necessary when the shore is to be redeveloped.”

But if it were to work, would we want to remove it? And particularly in the name of more development — the same thing that depleted the natural marshes along the edge of the harbor in the first place?

I wonder if the city’s priorities are in line with reality. Personally, I’ll take the embarrassment that comes with leaving a promenade half built over the downright shame of an unswimmable harbor any day.

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