(Photo: Historic Postcard of Oak Grove Bluff, Swansea)
Today the Baker-Polito Administration’s Seaport Economic Council awarded $2.4 million for collaborative initiatives in seven coastal communities to improve public infrastructure and promote maritime economic development. The seven cities and towns that received awards include Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Lynn, Plymouth, Rockport, Saugus and Swansea.
Governor Charlie Baker said, “Massachusetts’ robust marine economy offers diverse economic opportunities to our coastal communities, from fishing to research and tourism. We are committed to nurturing the growth of these maritime opportunities through the Seaport Economic Council’s resources and community guidance.”
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, chair of the Seaport Economic Council, said, “The varied needs of our communities are reflected in the awards announced today, from a harbor management plan in Dartmouth, to a lifeguard station in Swansea and a critical sea wall in Lynn. These projects will promote local growth and unlock economic potential.”
Earlier this year, the Seaport Economic Council commissioned a comprehensive study of the Commonwealth’s Maritime Economy, which underscored the sector’s importance to the Massachusetts economy. The Blue Economy directly employs 90,000 people, supports over 5,500 business establishments and accounts for $3.4 billion in wages in Massachusetts. The Seaport Economic Council’s investments target coastal infrastructure improvements, planning and innovation efforts to directly support tourism, blue technology, and recreation and commercial assets to further grow this critical sector.
Deputy Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and vice-chair of the Seaport Economic Council Carolyn Kirk said, “By improving access to tourist destinations, increasing maritime safety, and developing new economic opportunities for commercial growth in our maritime areas, these investments will support the continued economic development of the Commonwealth’s 78 coastal communities.”
The Seaport Economic Council advances the Baker-Polito Administration’s support for communities and residents across the state by leveraging unique economic assets to drive sustainable regional growth. The council was re-launched in August 2015, with a mission to deepen the maritime economy, promote economic development, and support resilient infrastructure in all 78 of Massachusetts’ coastal communities while preparing them to engage with the challenges posed by sea level rise and increasingly powerful coastal storms. The council’s capital grant program supports working waterfronts, local tourism, coastal resiliency, and maritime innovation, from the North Shore to Cape Cod and the South Coast.
Since 2015, the Seaport Economic Council has invested over $24 million in 56 projects across 32 communities.
Dartmouth – $80,000
Dartmouth will develop a Harbor Management Plan to identify areas of concern regarding current management of the harbor. This project will involve a broad group of community stakeholders in the development of the management plan.
Fairhaven – $72,000
Fairhaven will fund the Public Safety Marina phase of the larger renovation of Union Wharf. The award will contribute to the costs of infrastructure, fencing, security lighting and engineering oversight. The project will also consolidate the Town’s public safety marine units into one location to improve the overall public safety of the port by increasing efficiency and producing faster response times.
Lynn – $1,000,000
Lynn will use this award in the construction of a seawall to support a Harborwalk along the city’s coastline. This will provide a publically accessible connection from the Lynn Heritage State Park to the Lynn Ferry landing.
Plymouth – $48,390
Plymouth will use this grant to pay for a new boat ramp for commercial fisherman. The current boat ramp is the second busiest in the state and draws many recreational users whom fishermen must compete with for access to the ramp. This project supports the maritime objectives of the community by providing the necessary infrastructure to support both the existing commercial activity within the harbor and the growing aquaculture industry.
Rockport – $102,000
Rockport will use this award to construct a boat landing facility on Straitsmouth Island. This will open up access to the pristine 29-acre island for the first time in over 80 years for boaters, kayakers, hikers, bird watchers and people wishing to tour both the historic lighthouse and the keeper’s house.
Saugus – $120,000
Saugus will support the town’s RiverWalk project, which seeks to support and sustain locally based lobstermen by creating new economic opportunities. This funding will help attract local citizens and leisure visitors alike to a newly accessible and inviting Saugus River bank and set the stage for the establishment of new restaurant and retail businesses in the area.
Swansea – 1,000,000
The Town of Swansea will use this award to construct a variety of buildings necessary for the development of its coastal infrastructure. This funding will be used to build a lifeguard station, bath house and training facility.