2018 Dredging Pilot Grant Guidelines and Application

The Department of Housing and Economic Development is now accepting applications for its first dredging program. The deadline is Aug. 3, 2018.


The MassWorks Infrastructure Program is a competitive grant program that provides a flexible source of capital funds for municipalities and other eligible public entities to support and accelerate economic activity and growth throughout the Commonwealth. MassWorks is authorized by Mass. General Laws, Chapter 23A, Section 63 and is administered by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED).

After reading the guidelines, download and complete this application. The completed PDF form and all other required attachments must be sent to eohedgrants@mass.gov by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018.

In July 2018, the Baker-Polito Administration is launching a Navigational Dredging Pilot grant program to be supported by a five percent set-aside in the MassWorks capital budget. The goal is to provide funds for dredging projects that prepare coastal communities for success and contribute to the long term strength and sustainability of our Commonwealth’s blue economy. 

A particular emphasis will be placed on shovel-ready projects that increase navigation and access to public waterways in support of commercial and tourism activities, resiliency and climate adaptation projects, public access and safety, and water quality improvements in the Commonwealth’s coastal communities. More specifically, the program will be used to support dredging opportunities that:

  • Advance economic development opportunities in designated port areas and developed harbors;
  • Reactivate or re-dredge waterways in support of commercial, tourism and recreational opportunities;
  • Increase public access and safety on waterways and harbors;
  • Demonstrate environmental benefits;
  • Are sustained through a municipal maintenance plan;
  • Support waterfront renewal and revitalization opportunities; and
  • Are consistent with the Commonwealth’s Sustainable Development Principles.

The program is now accepting applications from municipalities and other eligible public entities for projects that support public navigational dredging. This pilot program is open, on a competitive basis, to the 78 coastal communities as defined by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM). Successful applications will be considered for an out-of-round award.

Complete proposals received by the deadline will be thoroughly reviewed by EOHED staff in consultation with the Executive Office for Administration and Finance and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Generally, the most competitive applications will be projects that: a) are advanced in their planning and design work, b) have secured, or are close to securing, all of the required permits and matching funds, c) demonstrate direct economic impact, and d) are ready to begin their project during the upcoming 2018/2019 dredging season.

Program Purpose and Goals

The program will provide grant funding to cover expenses for dredging projects, including bid and procurement, mobilization and demobilization, mechanical dredging equipment and dredged material management. Eligible projects must support public navigational dredging projects and be located within public tidelands. Projects that use grants to municipalities, for public infrastructure provided by this section, shall be procured by the municipality in accordance with chapter 7, section 39M of chapter 30, chapter 30B and chapter 149.

The MassWorks Program, including this dredging pilot initiative, is committed to implementing the Commonwealth’s Sustainable Development Principles by ensuring that state funds used for infrastructure investments are consistent with these principles to the greatest extent possible.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts’s Sustainable Development Principles

The Commonwealth shall care for the built and natural environment by promoting sustainable development through integrated energy and environment, housing and economic development, transportation, and other policies, programs, investments, and regulations. The Commonwealth will encourage the coordination and cooperation of all agencies, invest public funds wisely in smart growth and equitable development, give priority to investments that will deliver good jobs and good wages, transit access, housing, and open space, in accordance with its sustainable development principles. Furthermore, the Commonwealth shall seek to advance these principles in partnership with regional and municipal governments, non-profit organizations, business, and other stakeholders.

(See full description of the principles at https://www.mass.gov/service-details/massworks.)

Eligibility of Applicants and Projects

Any of the 78 Massachusetts coastal cities/towns, acting by and through municipal officers or by and through any agency designated by such municipal officers to act on their behalf, or a public entity, may apply to the pilot program for a grant in a specific amount to fund a specific public dredging project. A complete list of the eligible coastal communities can be found here: CZM Coastal Communities.

Eligible projects must be for navigational dredging of public waterways. Program investments will be targeted to proposed projects that can result in direct economic activity and/or address public safety issues. A particular emphasis will be placed on projects that are designed, permitted, and ready for construction (“shovel-ready”) or will be within the 2019 fiscal year.  MassWorks grants can be in addition to other forms of local, state, and federal assistance that the applicant might receive.  

Application Components

The application is organized into seven sections as listed below. A complete proposal package includes answering the questions in all sections and attaching supporting documents, if requested.

The application is organized into seven sections as listed below. A complete proposal package includes answering the questions in all sections and attaching supporting documents, if requested.

           1. Project Summary: This page includes all of the identifying information of the applicant as well as highlights of the application, including project name, amount request, and brief description.

           2. Public Dredging Project Description: Questions related to the public infrastructure project. Includes detailed project description, status of permitting, project schedule and timeline. The application also requires a project map or rendering (including the proposed dredge footprint). For assistance, applicants may use the EOHED Preparing for Success online mapping tool found at: http://maps.massgis.state.ma.us/map_ol/eohed_mapping.php


           3. Budget & Source: A worksheet requiring  specific information about the project’s total budget, portion requested from MassWorks, and amount and sources of the match funding. Note: MassWorks funding through this pilot cannot be used to cover pre-dredging expenses (survey, testing, design, etc.).


           4. Preparing for Success: In this section, EOHED is looking to evaluate the extent to which the community has actively worked to prepare itself to attract investment and/or development. It includes questions about alignment with local planning goals, use of state designations and development tools, and how revenues are generated by and used for waterway and harbor activities in general.


           5. Supporting our Blue Economy: This section is more specific around the increases in economic benefits and commercial activity that is expected as a result of the dredging work. It includes questions about the anticipated increases in commercial fishing and aquaculture. It may require communication with local companies to answer specific questions related to revenues, acreage, and jobs supported by the dredging project.

           6. Applicability of MEPA Review: The awarding of MassWorks funding is a form of state action as cited in the MEPA regulations.  This section requests that the applicant indicate if any of the MEPA thresholds are met or exceeded by the project. The intent is to identify, earlier in the process, if any review is needed and how it might affect the project’s timeline. (See appendix for further guidance on MEPA.)


          7. Certification of Public Entity Authorization: This is the signature page certifying that the application is authorized to be submitted and is true and accurate. This page should be completed by the authorized signatory for the applicant entity.

Given the competitive nature of these grant programs, applicants are asked to consider applying only for projects that are ready, meaning permitted and prepared to begin work in the upcoming 2018/2019 dredge season.

Although not required, other attachments may be submitted to support an application, such as support letters from community leaders, legislators, etc. These should be submitted separately by email to eohedgrants@mass.gov or delivered in person or via U.S. Mail to EOHED, MassWorks Dredging Program, 1 Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108. Please note that while additional attachments may be reviewed and will be filed as part of the proposal, they will not be evaluated as part of the formal assessment of the application.

Program Highlights and Evaluation Information

  • The maximum amount of capital funding that can be requested by each application, through this pilot program, is $2.5 million. Applicants can request funding to support only one complete project and must provide clear justification for the amount requested. Funding may be requested to provide the non-federal match for a federally authorized navigation dredging project.
  • Two or more communities may file a joint application for a single project serving both communities provided that the total amount requested does not exceed $2.5 million per community.
  • All applications require a match of at least 50% of the total project cost. The match can be from multiple sources, including non-state government grants (local or federal) and/or contributions from private entities. Pre-construction related expenses, that predate the current fiscal year, may be proposed to count towards the local match requirement, but will be subject to EOHED approval.  The Secretary, in his sole discretion, may waive the match requirement if a hardship can be demonstrated and is requested in writing.
  • All applications must be submitted via email to eohedgrants@mass.gov. The deadline for all completed applications is 11:59 PM on August 3, 2018.
  • It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that their application is received on time by EOHED. All applications will be logged as to date and time received and kept on file as public record. EOHED reserves the right to request additional information from the applicant or external sources as may be necessary in order to complete the application review.

Generally, the criteria used by EOHED to assess proposals, includes: a) ensuring completeness of the application, b) confirming alignment with the Sustainable Development Principles, c) verifying rationality and feasibility of the proposed infrastructure work and the funding amount requested, and, most significantly, e) determining whether the project is “shovel-ready” meaning prepared to begin in the upcoming dredging season. In measuring the shovel-readiness criteria, EOHED assesses the extent to which the applicant meets most, if not all, of the following conditions:

  • The project has been vetted locally and has the support of key stakeholders in the community;
  • The timeline and funding source(s) for completing project designs allow for work to commence in the upcoming dredging season;
  • Demonstration that all sources for matching funds have been identified and secured or will be secured by the upcoming dredging season. Communities that require Town Meeting approval for securing local funds should include meeting date as evidence of the potential timing.
  • All required federal, state, and local permits have been obtained or there is evidence that all required permits can be reasonably obtained by the upcoming 2018/2019 dredging season;
  • Applicant has consulted with CZM prior to submitting the application;
  • All necessary rights of way have been secured or there is evidence that the rights of way can be secured within 120 days of receipt of an award notice; and
  • Demonstration that all other sources necessary to fully fund the project have been committed or evidence that they will be committed in time for project to commence in the upcoming dredging season.

Once all applications have been fully reviewed and assessed, the MassWorks Team will prepare a list of the most competitive projects for the EOHED Secretary’s further review, adjustment, and/or approval. The Secretary presents a final list of funding recommendations to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor for ratification.

Applicants that are approved for funding will receive a commitment letter from EOHED outlining the grant amount and any conditions of the award. Grantees will be need to verify the project’s readiness and address any related conditions. Grantees will also be expected to demonstrate that they possess the administrative management capacity to oversee the proposed infrastructure construction project and to comply with applicable regulations and reporting requirements. All awards are contingent upon full execution of a contract between the Commonwealth and the sponsoring entity.

Occasionally, there are competitive applications that do not receive an award because the program does not have sufficient funds available at the time. In those cases, the applicant may receive a letter informing them that the proposal may be reconsidered later in the fiscal year if/when funds become available, before the next round.

Applicants that are not selected to receive funding during this round will also be notified in writing. Those wishing to get feedback on their proposal are invited to request a debriefing call with MassWorks staff. These will be scheduled in the order they are received once the round is closed.

The MassWorks Team wishes all communities the best in preparing their applications, and we look forward to reading about all of the exciting economic activity that is taking place in our coastal communities.

Questions can be emailed to eohedgrants@mass.gov


Appendix: Applicability of MEPA Regulations

This guidance is intended to ensure that the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) administers the Massworks Infrastructure Program in compliance with the Mass. Environmental Policy Act, M.G.L. c. 30, §§ 61 through 62I (MEPA), and its implementing regulations at 301 CMR 11.00 (the MEPA regulations).

Overview of Agency Obligations Under MEPA

The purpose of MEPA is to provide for review of the potential environmental impacts of projects for which state agency action is required.  MEPA review is potentially required for any project directly undertaken by a state agency; those aspects of a project within the subject matter of any required state permit; a project involving financial assistance; and those aspects of a project within the area of any land transferred by a state agency. For purposes of MEPA, financial assistance means “[a]ny direct or indirect financial aid to any person provided by any agency including, but not limited to, mortgage assistance, special taxing arrangements, grants, issuance of bonds, loans, loan guarantees, debt or equity assistance, and the allocation of Commonwealth or federal funds.”  301 CMR 11.02.  A Massworks grant is financial assistance that confers MEPA jurisdiction over any project funded by Massworks.

The MEPA regulations set out review thresholds intended to identify categories of projects that are likely to cause damage to the environment.  MEPA review is required when one or more review thresholds are met or exceeded and the subject matter of at least one review threshold is within MEPA jurisdiction. The provision of financial assistance confers full scope jurisdiction such that MEPA review is required if any threshold is met or exceeded.[1] The MEPA regulations state that “[i]n determining whether a project is subject to MEPA jurisdiction or meets or exceeds any review thresholds … the proponent, any participating agency, and the secretary shall consider the entirety of the project, including any likely future expansion, and not separate phases or segments thereof.  The proponent may not phase or segment a project to evade, defer or curtail MEPA review.” 301 CMR 11.01(2)(c). 

State agencies, including EOHED, are required to periodically review and evaluate its own programs, regulations, and policies and determine the potential environmental impacts of implementation of its programs, regulations, and policies, and ensure that it and each applicant for a permit, financial assistance, or a land transfer complies with MEPA.

MEPA Compliance in the MassWorks Program

The typical Massworks grant is from EOHED to a municipality or other public entity for purposes of constructing infrastructure or other public improvements.  To comply with MEPA, EOHED may require the project proponent to demonstrate that a project does not meet or exceed any review thresholds or that there has been due compliance with MEPA prior to awarding a Massworks grant.  Accordingly, EOHED will require every applicant for Massworks funding to represent whether the public infrastructure project meets or exceeds any review threshold set forth at 301 CMR 11.03.  Where a review threshold is exceeded, the grant recipient will be required to demonstrate that MEPA review has been completed prior to the disbursement of Massworks funds.  Such a condition may be stated in a grant award letter and shall be a material term of the grant agreement between EOHED and the grant recipient.

In many cases, the public infrastructure or improvement will benefit or be located in close proximity to a private development proposed by a separate, private entity.  In these cases, EOHED is required to consider whether the public infrastructure and the private development should be reviewed as a single “project” consistent with the segmentation provisions set forth at 301 CMR 11.01(2)(c).  In making this determination, the MEPA regulations require EOHED to “consider all circumstances as to whether various work or activities constitute one Project”. 

According to the MEPA regulations, relevant factors include:

  • Whether the work or activities, taken together, comprise a common plan or independent undertakings, regardless of whether there is more than one proponent;
  • Any time interval between the work or activities; and
  • Whether the environmental impacts caused by the work or activities are separable or cumulative.

In addition to these factors, EOHED will consider:

  • Whether the public improvements directly serve or physically connect to a private project.
  • Whether the public improvements will be located on parcels of land that are part of or immediately adjacent to a private project site.
  • The distance separating the public improvements and the private project.
  • Whether the public improvements are required to be constructed as a condition in a permit or approval for a private project.
  • Whether the public improvements will be constructed by, or in coordination with, the developer of the private project.
  • Whether the public improvements are critical to the feasibility or viability of the private project.
  • The timing of the private project in relation to the public improvements.

If EOHED determines, based on these factors, that a public infrastructure project and private development are separate projects, EOHED will require MEPA compliance for the public infrastructure project that is receiving financial assistance, if applicable.

However, if EOHED determines that a public infrastructure project is so integral to a private project such that the two projects must be considered a “common plan or undertaking” under 301 CMR 11.01(2)(c), then EOHED will require compliance with MEPA for the public infrastructure and private project.  Such a requirement may be stated in a grant award letter and shall be a material term of the grant agreement between EOHED and the grant recipient. If applicable, the contract awarding the Massworks grant also will incorporate the required section 61 findings under 301 CMR 11.12(5).

In any case where EOHED is uncertain of its MEPA obligations, it may consult with the MEPA Office and/or may recommend that the project proponent seek a formal Advisory Opinion under 301 CMR 11.01(6). The MEPA Office is available to offer assistance regarding the applicability of MEPA review and questions about the content, form and/or timing of MEPA review documents.

Applicants for Massworks funding may consult with the MEPA Office early in the process to ensure any filing requirements and associated timing are understood. In some cases, timing of MEPA review may be an important consideration in whether a project is “shovel ready.”  MEPA staff are available to address questions and provide information over the phone, via email and through pre-filing meetings.

Basic questions regarding jurisdiction and whether a project would exceed an environmental review threshold are typically addressed through email or phone calls. Discussions regarding the substance and timing of MEPA review or specific and unique aspects of a project may be more effectively addressed through pre-filing meetings with the Director or Assistant Director. 

The MEPA Office encourages applicants to participate in pre-filing meetings and schedules these meetings regularly. Additional information regarding MEPA review is provided on the MEPA website.

 Full scope jurisdiction extends MEPA review to all aspects of a project that are likely to cause damage to the environment. In contrast, “limited” or “subject matter” MEPA jurisdiction means that review is limited to those aspects of the project within the subject matter of a required permit or within the area of a land transfer.


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