|Mass.Gov Home Page||State Agencies||State A-Z Topic List|
Designated Port Area Bulletin - March 1999
Since September, the four major ports outside of Boston Harbor (Gloucester, Salem, New Bedford/Fairhaven, and Fall River) have made great strides with port planning and dredge planning, with the assistance and direction of Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM). An update is provided below.
Massachusetts' Four Port Planning Initiative
Fall River: Progress continues in Fall River, with the Harbor Planning Committee regularly meeting to review and discuss the work of The Cecil Group, the city's consultant. On December 22, 1998, a public meeting was held to present the conclusions of the Feasibility Assessment Report. At this meeting, a number of comments were made on the direction of the planning process to date, the majority of which were supportive. On February 24, 1999, a presentation was given to the Harbor Planning Committee on the key elements of the draft Harbor and Economic Development Plan. At this meeting, the consultant laid out a schedule that would distribute a draft proposed plan to the Committee, state agencies, and other key groups in late March or early April. The key element presentation will also be given at a public presentation in March. After review, comment, and markup, a formal draft proposed plan is expected to be submitted to the state later this spring.
Key elements of the plan include about 40 specific actions broken down into immediate, short-term, mid-term, and long-term categories. Some of the specific ideas are: a hotel complex along the waterfront; expansion and reorganization of the tourism sector to achieve a critical mass of uses; a performing arts facility and park on the State Pier; highway relocation in conjunction with expansion of office-type development along the waterfront; harbor dredging; improved signage and waterfront connections; waterfront walk and bikeway; and many others.
New Bedford/Fairhaven: Port planning is moving steadily ahead, thanks to the continued dedication of both communities and their Harbor Planning Committee, and the work of their consultant, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. On October 12, 1998, a public meeting on the various port development alternatives, as well as some of the early elements of consensus from the Harbor Planning Committee, was held at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Comments were positive and there was strong support for the Planning Committee's desire to protect and enhance the marine industrial base in the harbor, while making room for other tourist and supporting commercial uses, such as an aquarium. A draft proposed plan was distributed to the Committee, agencies, and other key individuals in the first half of February and that draft has received many comments and undergone significant redraft over the past several weeks. A public meeting is scheduled for March 23, 1999 to present the details of the proposed plan and receive public comments. Submission of the formal draft proposed harbor plan to the state is scheduled for early April.
The enhanced economic analysis completed by FXM Associates this winter underscored the keystone importance of the fishing industry to the present and future economies of the New Bedford/Fairhaven area. This industry accounts for more than $650 million in sales in the area and more than 3,000 jobs.
Key elements included in the draft plan include: development of a marine industrial park in the harbor; restoration of freight service to the Islands and other locations from the State Pier; revitalization of niche cargo operations; infrastructure repairs and enhancements for both the fishing and niche cargo industries; and expansion of tourist and supporting commercial uses such as the aquarium project, excursion boats, a hotel, and recreational marina expansion.
Salem: Salem's draft final harbor plan was released in February 1999. On March 4, the Salem Harbor Plan Committee enthusiastically approved the final draft and voted to submit the plan to the Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEA) for approval. A presentation will be made to the Salem City Council on March 11, and the city expects to submit the plan to the EOEA Secretary on March 15. With these major accomplishments completed, CZM will continue to work with the city, project coordinator (Fara Courtney), and harbor planning consultants (The Cecil Group) to begin implementing the plan once it is approved by the Secretary.
The harbor plan establishes a framework for guiding development and preservation choices facing the city. Key planning recommendations are the development of: a new Salem Wharf for a broad range of water-dependent uses (from cruise ships to lobster boats and water taxis); a tourism strategy that celebrates historic and cultural heritage; and a harbor walk increasing public access along the entire waterfront. The harbor plan was developed through a process that included extensive citizen participation and the involvement of landowners and waterfront interests. This effort has sought to achieve a balance between the needs of the adjacent neighborhoods, opportunities for the entire city, and the potential of the waterfront as a regional resource.
CZM is also working with Salem on the second phase of the pre-development studies for the Port of Salem Expansion project, funded in October, 1997, by the Seaport Council. This project has enhanced the port planning process and includes an engineering, environmental, and geotechnical impact study for the proposed pier construction for the "New Salem Wharf." The contract for this project was extended to June 30, 1999, and to date the project is 65 percent complete.
Gloucester: Members of the Gloucester Harbor Plan Committee cheered loudly after their vote to accept the draft final harbor plan and present it to the City Council for approval. It was an exciting time for Gloucester as diverse groups completed their arduous effort and reached unanimous consensus. The Harbor Plan Committee presented the draft final plan to, and fielded questions from, the City Council on March 3. The council expressed its satisfaction with he plan and will take its formal approval vote at their March 9 meeting. The city expects to submit the draft final plan to the Secretary of EOEA on March 12. With these major accomplishments completed, CZM will continue to work with the city, project coordinator (Dale Brown), and harbor planning consultants (ICON Architecture) on implementation.
The plan confirms the primary importance of maintaining the harbor as an active working port, principally dedicated to the needs of the fishing industry. The plan also recognizes that the harbor area can accommodate other uses, including visitor-oriented education, recreation, and commerce in ways that will not displace traditional marine industries. The plan recommends three key actions: 1) upgrade the public infrastructure of the harbor (navigation, public access, seawalls, wastewater treatment, streets, and parking); 2) strengthen the traditional working port by creating a new private Gloucester harbor partnership organization that will assist small- to medium-sized businesses on historic finger piers; and 3) capitalize on the cultural and natural assets of the harbor by developing a maritime museum and attracting private investment to the downtown area.
Massachusetts' Dredge Material Management Initiative
The statewide Dredged Material Management Plan (DMMP) is focusing on Gloucester, Salem, New Bedford/Fairhaven, and Fall River to coordinate with the Four Ports Planning Initiative. Progress has been steady, with CZM working with the cities and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Major accomplishments over the last few months include:
During the next steps, a draft list of screened disposal sites will be developed for review/discussion with the cities in March; subsequent meetings will be held with the federal agencies. Following these meetings a preferred alternative will be identified and a review draft of the Draft Environmental Impact Reports will be developed for review and discussion with the cities.
For more information on the port planning process and the DMMP, contact:
. CZM Main Office, 617-626-1200