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Designated Port Area Bulletin - March 1997
Through the Four Ports Initiative, Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM) is working with four major ports outside of Boston Harbor (Gloucester, Salem, New Bedford/Fairhaven, and Fall River) to meet future harbor development and dredging needs through advanced planning. An update of activities is given below.
The CZM Port Planning Initiative
Consistent with Weld/Cellucci Seaport Action Plan, Port Plans are being developed for Gloucester, Salem, New Bedford, and Fall River. This Port Planning Initiative is being undertaken by CZM, on behalf of Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA) Secretary Trudy Coxe. This initiative is being coordinated with the Dredged Material Management Initiative, which is described below.
Port planning is a two-step process, beginning with the development of a Scope, or work program, for the Plan. The second step is the development of the Port Plan based on the Scope. Both the Scope and the Plan are submitted to the Secretary of EOEA for approval. An approved Plan allows a municipality to have greater flexibility in implementing a development strategy tailored to its port's needs and the community's vision. It also identifies fiscal needs for publicly owned infrastructure critical to the Plan's implementation.
Much work has been accomplished by the four ports and state agencies over the last several months. Here's an overview:
New Bedford/Fairhaven - This past month a major milestone was reached when Secretary Coxe approved a Scope for the New Bedford/Fairhaven Port Plan. With an approved Scope, New Bedford and Fairhaven will soon be hiring a consultant to prepare a Port Plan - a Plan that will recommend a port development strategy based on a shared vision. This planning effort will be funded with a grant from CZM/EOEA, financed by the Seaport Bond Bill. The New Bedford/Fairhaven Scope, developed in partnership with the communities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and CZM, is serving as the model for the other three ports.
Consultant Hired for Other Three Ports - To achieve economies of scale, CZM/EOEA hired a single consultant, ICON Architecture, to work with the other three ports in developing their Scopes. This work is nearing completion.
Gloucester - A draft proposed Scope has been completed and is under review in Gloucester. The Gloucester draft Scope incorporates the results of work completed to date, including a reconnaissance study, a technical memorandum on waterfront issues, a major public workshop, and a Harbor survey on the issues to be addressed by the Port Plan. Turn-out at Gloucester's public workshop was large, indicating great enthusiasm and interest by these communities in the future of their ports. Workshop participants were asked to respond to two questions: 1) How should the harbor be used in the future? and, 2) What harbor projects should the city invest in now? Workshop round table discussions resulted in identifying common themes. The workshop and harbor survey results demonstrate that there is considerable agreement about how the harbor should be used.
Salem - Salem will be reviewing its draft Scope in mid-March. Like Gloucester, Salem's draft Scope incorporates a reconnaissance study, a technical memorandum on waterfront issues, a major public workshop, and a Harbor survey. Turn-out at the Salem public workshop was also large, demonstrating community enthusiasm and commitment to port planning. Workshop participants in Salem were also asked about how the harbor should be used in the future and what harbor projects should be invested in now. As in Gloucester, there is considerable agreement in Salem about how the harbor should be used.
Fall River - A draft proposed Scope has also been completed for Fall River and is being revised to incorporate comments from the local harbor planning group. The Fall River waterfront is the gateway to the City, as mayor Lambert recently pointed out. The Scope will define a planning process based on this understanding that will consider the impact of the waterfront on Fall River's Central Business District, as well as the impact of the Business District on the waterfront. The Scope is also intended to satisfy the mandate of the state legislature to update a prior waterfront study.
The CZM Dredged Material Management Initiative
Ports seeking to dredge their channels to maintain existing commercial traffic or to attract larger vessels must currently undertake a lengthy and expensive process to identify a disposal site for material that cannot be placed in the open water ("unsuitable material"). To solve this problem, CZM is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a statewide Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP). To coordinate with the Four Ports Initiative, the DMMP will focus initially on Gloucester, Salem, New Bedford/Fairhaven, and Fall River.
With planning monies identified in the Seaport Bond, CZM hired the MaGuire Group in December, in association with several subconsultants, to develop the technical information necessary to initiate formal state and federal review of potential disposal alternatives. An analysis of the upland capacity for the disposal or beneficial reuse of dredged material will also determine whether there are practicable, cost-effective alternatives to aquatic disposal.
In addition, CZM is assisting the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) effort to develop new dredging and disposal guidance. This guidance will provide appropriate protection to marine and upland resources while increasing the predictability of the permitting process for dredging projects. The MaGuire team will provide facilitation and technical support to the guidance development process.
After two months of work, the following components are complete for each of the ports: base mapping, geotechnical inventory, dredging project inventory and total volume calculations, initial natural resource and sediment quality databases, and the initial disposal site selection screening criteria. Copies of the geotechnical inventory and dredging project inventory reports and maps have been forwarded to the Dredging Subcommittees in Gloucester and Salem for their review and analysis. Once New Bedford/Fairhaven and Fall River identify the appropriate Dredging Subcommittee members, they will also be supplied with this data.
In the next two months, CZM and the MaGuire team will complete the analysis of alternative disposal technologies, and the Buzzards Bay Disposal Site reconnaissance report. The months of May, June, and July will be devoted to the completion of the technical aspect of the project, including identification of the most practicable disposal site locations and a complete assessment of sediment quality in each of the four ports.
CZM Technical Assistance Staff
Several CZM staff members are actively involved with providing technical assistance to Gloucester, Salem, New Bedford/Fairhaven, and Fall River to develop their Port Plans and resolve their dredging issues. The following is a list of these staff contacts.