Lt. Governor Karyn Polito at Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich on Cape Cod

The Baker-Polito Administration announced nearly $1.5 million in Seaport Economic Council Grants this week to support projects in 4 Massachusetts coastal communities.

The awards advance projects that help seaside municipalities better leverage the economic, educational, and recreational opportunities afforded by their vast ocean resources, in order to stimulate growth and improve climate resiliency.

The Seaport Economic Council approved the grants at its meeting at Harwich Town Hall, with Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito presiding as chair.

Following the meeting, Lt. Governor Polito spoke at a ceremony at Saquatucket Harbor commemorating the completion of a new harbormaster complex, where extensive improvements were made thanks to 2016 and 2017 SEC grants, each worth $1 million.

Governor Charlie Baker said, “Our administration recognizes the importance of the Blue Economy to all of Massachusetts, and is proud to invest in the Commonwealth’s oldest industry to boost growth in communities up and down the coast. We will continue to fund projects through the Seaport Economic Council to ensure that Massachusetts’ maritime industry remains a global leader, job creator and source of innovation.”

Lt. Governor Polito said, “As former municipal officials, Governor Baker and I believe strongly in empowering communities to meet the unique challenges they face through the locally-driven, collaborative approach embodied by programs like the Seaport Economic Council. It is a pleasure to award these grants and celebrate the completion of this project today, so the recipient communities can maximize the benefits of their ocean resources and meet the challenges of tomorrow.”

In its second round of 2019 awards, the council allocated all $1.49 million in new grants toward the permitting, design, and construction of such improvements, including $1 million to advance a new Community Rowing Center and Maritime Science Center at Duxbury Bay Maritime School that will benefit residents and students throughout the region.

In February, the council awarded more than $6.4 million to support projects in 6 communities and 4 educational institutions.

The remainder of today’s grants advanced harbor improvements that will increase marine capacity and opportunity, awarding $200,000 for Wareham to rehabilitate the historic Onset Bathhouse, along with $150,000 for Eastham and $147,200 for Orleans to build a new harbormaster building and revitalize Rock Harbor.

Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) Secretary Mike Kennealy said today’s awards “play a vital role in strengthening these coastal communities, and helping them meet their development goals. Our administration values the rich heritage and contributions of the maritime industry in Massachusetts, and will continue to empower this sector to unlock new growth opportunities statewide.”

Deputy Secretary of EOHED Tim McGourthy, Vice Chair of the Seaport Economic Council, said, “The maritime sector is a key component of the Commonwealth’s economy, accounting for nearly 136,000 jobs and generating more than $17 billion annually in industries ranging from fishing to the construction of unmanned underwater vehicles. We believe Seaport Economic Council grants are critical to unlocking and preserving the full potential of our oceans to strengthen both coastal and inland communities.”

The ceremony that followed the meeting of the Seaport Economic Council marked the conclusion of three years’ efforts to overhaul Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich, made possible by $2 million in SEC funding.

In 2016, a grant worth $1 million funded the construction of new docks to increase fishing and boating capacity while improving accessibility. And in 2017, a second award of $1 million advanced the construction of a new two-story Harbormaster building, featuring public restrooms and showers, a snack shack, boardwalk, workshops and artisan sheds, and 90 parking spaces to offer enhanced waterfront opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

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 grow the maritime economy, promote economic development, and support resilient infrastructure in all 78 of Massachusetts’ coastal communities, while preparing them to respond to the challenges posed by rising sea levels 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 $41 million in 87 projects ranging from local to statewide in scale, with an emphasis on supporting coastal infrastructure.

Investments in coastal communities are crucial to Massachusetts’ economy, safety, and environment. The Baker-Polito Administration will continue to provide resources and programs, like Seaport Economic Council grants and MassWorks infrastructure awards, to ensure that coastal communities can improve, strengthen, and protect the Commonwealth’s coastal assets.

Seaport Economic Council Grant Recipients:

Duxbury – $1,000,000
Duxbury’s award will support the construction of a Community Rowing Center and a Marine Science Center near the public waterfront at Duxbury Bay Maritime School (DBMS), furthering DBMS’s mission of preserving and expanding the role of maritime industry and recreation in Duxbury while improving climate resiliency.
The Maritime Science Center will replace the tent currently used on an ad hoc basis for lab demonstrations with a permanent space, featuring state-of-the-art equipment, in order to properly serve the nearly 900 South Shore students already participating in marine science programming. Meanwhile, the Community Rowing Center will provide comprehensive facilities for DBMS’s largest and fastest growing program, with first-floor equipment storage and a second-floor training complex that will include ergometers and an indoor rowing tank, to better accommodate the more than 600 rowers of all ages that currently use DBMS.

Eastham – $150,000
Eastham’s award will fund the facilitation, design, and permitting of the revitalization of Rock Harbor, including the construction of a harbormaster building to enhance accessibility, capacity, and safety in a key hub for shellfishing and recreation. Eastham’s current harbormaster and moorings are located six miles away. Other planned improvements include public benches and picnic tables, climate change and invasive species management, and additional parking spaces to promote Rock Harbor as an economic center far into the future.Rock Harbor lies between the Towns of Eastham and Orleans; today’s award was granted in conjunction with a separate award to the Town of Orleans for infrastructure upgrades to the harbor’s commercial wharf.

Orleans – $147,200
Orleans’ award will fund the replacement of the off-loading bulkhead, the installation of a high-capacity hoist system, and other electrical upgrades at Rock Harbor’s commercial wharf. Fishermen are currently limited to an inhibiting load restriction due to the poor condition of the bulkhead, and are forced to resort to unsafe practices to unload their catches in the absence of an adequate hoist.
Rock Harbor lies between the Towns of Eastham and Orleans; today’s award was granted in conjunction with a separate award to the Town of Eastham for the planning and permitting of a new harbormaster building.

Wareham – $200,000
Wareham’s award will support the rehabilitation of the historic Onset Bathhouse into a twenty-first century educational and community building. Today’s award builds on a 2018 SEC award of $350,000, in order to meet unexpected increases in construction costs and improve climate resiliency. Upon completion, the facility will feature a new second level and provide waterfront space for community meetings, boating, environmental education programs, and more.