Massachusetts Gains Foothold in Offshore Wind Power, Long Ignored in U.S.

New York Times

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — On the waterfront of this fabled former whaling hub, the outlines of a major new industry are starting to appear.

Crews of research boats perform last-minute tuneups before heading out to map the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. A large weather buoy decked out with gear for measuring wind speeds waits on the quay for repairs. And a 1,200-foot stretch of the port has been beefed up to bear enormous loads.

New Bedford hopes to soon be the operations center for the first major offshore wind farm in the United States, bringing billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs to the town and other ports on the East Coast.

On Wednesday, that effort took a major step forward as the State of Massachusetts, after holding an auction, selected a group made up of a Danish investment firm and a Spanish utility to erect giant turbines on the ocean bottom, beginning about 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard. This initial project will generate 800 megawatts of electricity, roughly enough to power a half a million homes. At the same time, Rhode Island announced it would award a 400-megawatt offshore wind project to another bidder in the auction.

The groups must now work out the details of their contracts with the states’ utilities.

“We see this not just as a project but as the beginning of an industry,” Lars Thaaning Pedersen, the chief executive of Vineyard Wind, which was awarded the Massachusetts contract, said in an interview.

Offshore wind farms have increasingly become mainstream sources of power in Northern Europe, and are fast becoming among the cheapest sources of electricity in countries like Britain and Germany. Those power sources in those two countries already account for more than 12 gigawatts of electricity generation capacity.

But the United States has largely not followed that lead, with just one relatively small offshore wind farm built off the coast of Rhode Island. Currently, the entire country’s offshore wind capacity is just 30 megawatts.

Jeff Grybowski, chief executive of Deepwater Wind, which won the Rhode Island portion, said that together the two projects add up to a European-scale package. “This shows the U.S. is catching up rapidly to the developments in Europe,” he said.

Such projects have run into opposition here over both cost and aesthetics — utilities are typically required to opt for the cheapest sources of power, and communities have resisted plans regarded as eyesores. Senator Edward M. Kennedy helped block a wind project off the coast of Cape Cod that would have been visible from the family estate.

But the technology has the potential to bring large supplies of energy to the Northeast. Arrays of wind turbines with generation capacities comparable to major conventional power plants would be mostly out of sight, albeit within easy transmission reach of large population centers like Boston and New York City.

“We could run the whole East Coast on offshore wind,” said Amory B. Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization that advises on renewable energy.

Massachusetts is looking to capitalize. It wants to add 1,600 megawatts of electricity by 2027. That would be enough to power a third of all residential homes in the state and supply 11 percent of its overall needs. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a state agency, also estimates that the projects could generate 9,850 jobs over 10 years, and add $2.1 billion to the state’s economy.

Developers say the state’s plan includes a series of projects large enough to help spawn a network of local suppliers of everything from components for the turbines to services like maintaining them, and drive down costs. Other states are pushing forward as well. Connecticut will soon name a developer for an offshore wind project of its own, while New York and New Jersey have both announced ambitious plans.

New England is particularly well suited to offshore wind farms. There is not enough land for wind turbines onshore, and the area is not ideal for solar power. At the same time, Massachusetts has been under pressure to find new sources of energy to replace aging conventional and nuclear plants, as well as meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.

The state is betting that, by investing in offshore wind decades after Northern Europe first tested the technology, it can avoid some of the growing pains experienced across the Atlantic.

For years, projects there required large government subsidies to be economically viable. Recently, technical advances and plummeting prices have meant that countries like Germany and the Netherlands have been able to award offshore wind projects with zero subsidies. As a bonus, offshore wind farms have supported thousands of jobs in port cities in the region.

Two of the three bids in Massachusetts came from European developers. The winner was a joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, a Danish renewable energy investment firm, and a subsidiary of Iberdrola, a Spanish utility. The other bids came from a consortium led by the Danish wind giant Orsted, and Deepwater Wind, which is based in Providence, R.I., and mainly owned by D.E. Shaw, an investment firm.

“We know in light of Northern Europe’s experience with offshore wind that many U.S. ports will benefit from the arrival of the industry here,” Jon Mitchell, the New Bedford mayor, said in an interview.

New Bedford has benefited from a lucrative sector before. In the mid-19th century, its whaling industry made it one of the wealthiest cities in the United States. “Nowhere in all America will you find more patrician-like houses; parks and gardens more opulent, than in New Bedford,” Herman Melville wrote in his epic novel, “Moby-Dick.”

In the hopes of another such boost, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the state agency, has already spent $113 million dredging the harbor and expanding and reinforcing a 29-acre marine commerce terminal. The state is preparing it to load the components of turbines that stretch up to 600 feet high and weigh many tons onto special vessels for installation at sea.

Whether Massachusetts can pull of its ambitious plans will depend to some degree on local issues — and not everyone in the area is enthusiastic.

In particular, some of New Bedford’s fishermen are worried. The city’s port is already home to hundreds of fishing boats, as well as seafood auction houses and processing plants. It generates about $3.3 billion a year and supports about 6,200 jobs, according to the local authorities.

“You don’t want to destroy one type of sustainable energy harvest with another one,” said Kevin Stokesbury, a professor at the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Eric Hansen, a scallop fisherman, said that he and his colleagues were concerned about threading their way through a relatively narrow allotted path through spinning turbines.

“Think fog, heavy seas,” he said.

Even so, wind power is gaining its adherents.

Opposition to offshore wind in the state appears to have quieted since the death of Mr. Kennedy in 2009. The senator and his family successfully resisted a project off Cape Cod that would have been the first offshore wind farm in the United States, a project proposed in 2001.

The area’s high electricity prices may prove, counterintuitively, to be a plus. Power prices in Massachusetts are the second highest in the nation, behind only Hawaii’s, and high rates prevail in much of the rest of New England and in New York. As a result, customers might be more willing to pay the increased early prices for power generated by offshore wind.

The economic boost, too, is appealing, especially in a once-affluent city of 100,000 people.

Kevin McLaughlin employs more than 100 people in his shipyards across the harbor at Fairhaven, and has already won additional work from offshore operators.

“As long as there are boats that will be here,” he said, “it is business for us.”

Follow Stanley Reed and Ivan Penn on Twitter: @stanleyreed12 and @ivanlpenn.

Stanley Reed reported from New Bedford, and Ivan Penn from Los Angeles.

Original Article here.

 

‘Taking it in’: Vineyard Wind wins offshore wind contract with Massachusetts

Vineyard Wind has been selected for Massachusetts’ first offshore wind contract, and Deepwater Wind will receive a contract from Rhode Island based on its Massachusetts bid, state officials announced Wednesday.

Together, their projects total 1,200 megawatts and establish a new industry in the region.

Vineyard Wind was awarded an 800-megawatt wind farm — up to 100 turbines — in federal waters about 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Deepwater’s project, called Revolution Wind, will be half the size, located south of Little Compton, Rhode Island, and Westport, Massachusetts.

“I’m still at the point of … taking it in,” said Erich Stephens, chief development officer for Vineyard Wind, minutes after the public announcement just after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The two companies were competing with a third bidder, Bay State Wind, in a Massachusetts procurement process, mandated by state law, to provide power to the state’s electric companies. The electric companies selected the winners in concert with the state.

Massachusetts’ choice to award 800 megawatts to a single bidder, rather than split the work into two, came as a surprise to many and somewhat of a disappointment to New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

“Overall, I’m pleased we’ve arrived at this day,” he said in an interview. He said the day marks an important milestone, but he would have liked to see two projects receive Massachusetts contracts in the first round.

“There would be a greater level of competition for investment commitments in the port,” he said. In addition, having two projects underway at once would be a hedge against one project’s delay holding up in the industry, he said.

Mitchell did not endorse a project. The city will work with any of the developers, he said.

Both of the companies that were not selected in Massachusetts had made specific financial commitments to local colleges, contingent upon winning a contract. Bay State Wind pledged $1 million to Bristol Community College to endow a faculty position in wind energy. Deepwater Wind committed $1 million for a research project called the Blue Economy Initiative at the University of Massachusetts, to be led by the UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology, which is in New Bedford.

Each of the three companies presented a package of enticements, some rolled out over time. For example, Bay State Wind offered $17.5 million for energy assistance and weatherization for low-income families.

Vineyard Wind’s enticements totaled $15 million: $10 million for a fund to develop the wind business supply chain in Massachusetts; $3 million to develop technologies to protect marine mammals from the effects of offshore wind construction; and $2 million to recruit, mentor and train in-state workers.

The mayor said the Massachusetts decision shows Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration chose mainly on price. Details of the pricing have not been made public. However, officials in the Baker administration did agree Wednesday that pricing was the most significant element, but not the only one.

Officials from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Energy Resources, who asked not to be named because the administration issued its official comments in writing, said a rigorous analysis of the bids gave Vineyard Wind the overall highest score in both qualitative and quantitative benefits — that is, price and other advantages.

Non-price factors included the effect on the economy and environment, the experience of the backers, and the construction schedule, they said. In addition, Vineyard Wind’s early timeline allows it to take advantage of a tax credit that would not be as generous later, they said.

The officials said they plan to work on new initiatives to address the concerns of fishermen, who have said the turbines could negatively affect the natural habitat.

Significant work lies ahead to reconcile differences with the fishing industry, Mayor Mitchell said.

Tony Sapienza, president of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said he was excited for the winners and “a little bit surprised” that Massachusetts didn’t go with two bidders. But he believes all three companies will be generating electricity in the region before the state finishes procuring the full 1,600 megawatts required by law.

“I think that’s a given,” he said.

All three bidders have room in their federal lease areas for more turbines in the future.

Derek Santos, the council’s executive director, said the city could still stage the installation of both projects from the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal. All three companies committed to use the terminal for Massachusetts projects, but no such commitment applies to Rhode Island.

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said “the overwhelming majority” of his project’s work will take place in Rhode Island.

Although New Bedford is not completely out of the picture, “clearly our principal commitment is to Rhode Island,” he said.

Still, Santos considers the award a positive development, and the council will continue to work to maximize the benefits to the port, he said.

Baker said in a news release that the announcement makes the state a hub for an emerging industry and brings it one step closer to “creating a clean, reliable and cost-effective energy future for Massachusetts residents, and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change.”

In the Vineyard Wind office on Wednesday, employees fielded phone calls and planned to make a dinner reservation to celebrate, Stephens said.

“New Bedford’s going to be a busy place real soon,” he said.

For him as for others, getting a full 800 megawatts, instead of sharing the award, came as a surprise.

“I was hopeful we might get something,” he said.

Stephens said the company is excited to continue pursuing permits, surveying the ocean floor, and talking to potential suppliers. Construction could begin by the end of 2019.

Vineyard Wind is owned jointly by the Danish investment company Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, a division of Connecticut-based energy company Avangrid, which is owned by Iberdrola of Spain.

Bay State Wind, which did not win a contract, issued a statement attributed to two people from its parent companies: Thomas Brostrøm, president of Ørsted North America, and Lee Olivier, an executive vice president at Eversource.

“We’re disappointed by today’s decision by the Massachusetts evaluation team,” they said in the statement. “We made a compelling offer to help the commonwealth meet its ambitious clean energy goals while maintaining strong financial discipline. Further, our proposal to interconnect our project into the former Brayton Point facility in Somerset, Massachusetts, would ensure clean energy delivery into one of the strongest connections on New England’s electrical grid.”

“We remain fully committed to our Bay State Wind partnership, as together we pursue future solicitations in New England and New York,” they said.

The award to Vineyard Wind is conditional upon the successful negotiation of a contract, and the deal must be approved by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. The schedule calls for contracts to be negotiated by July 2 and submitted for approval by July 31.

A 2016 state law requires electric companies doing business in Massachusetts — Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil — to buy 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power in the next decade, enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes.

‘We’re ready to go’: New Bedford airport gears up for next big thing

After an Elite Airlines flight landed at New Bedford Regional Airport last winter, three administrators walked onto the runway with umbrellas.

As passengers exited the plane, Airport Director Scot Servis, Assistant Director Michael Crane and Airport Commission Chairman Paul Barton shielded them from the rain.

“We’re not a big airport like T.F. Green or Logan. We can’t offer things they offer. But we can offer things that they can’t offer,” Barton said. “We can offer these little things.”

Barton hopes little things like $5 parking per day, quick processing through security and the aforementioned plane to terminal service add up to attract not only passengers but airlines.

Elite Airlines didn’t extend service beyond its initial six-week test flight from December through January, but Barton is hopeful Elite will return in the fall. The airline would join Island Shuttle, which will rival Cape Air in small flights to Cape and the Island. Barton said service for Island Shuttle will begin this summer.

He was also optimistic about a third airline that could provide round trips to JFK Airport in New York in 2019. While Barton chose not to name the airline, he said it is affiliated with a larger airline, which would allow passengers an array of options through New Bedford.

“You could actually buy a ticket in New Bedford and end up in California,” Barton said.

The airport launched a new website (flyewb.com) as another way to facilitate passengers’ experience, providing flight updates and parking and rental information among other things.

He was also optimistic about a third airline that could provide round trips to JFK Airport in New York in 2019. While Barton chose not to name the airline, he said it is affiliated with a larger airline, which would allow passengers an array of options through New Bedford.

“You could actually buy a ticket in New Bedford and end up in California,” Barton said.

The airport launched a new website (flyewb.com) as another way to facilitate passengers’ experience, providing flight updates and parking and rental information among other things.

“If New Bedford is dreaming up service, there’s other airports dreaming about it too,” Servis said. “I’m sure we’re not the only ones knocking on the doors. And in the end, it depends on which airport could provide the best deal for the airline and where they see the most passengers coming out of.”

Whichever airline lands in New Bedford it will be on new runways.

Runway 5-23 was repaired about three years ago and crews began tearing up 14-32 three weeks ago.

“There’s so much potential sitting on the plate right now,” Barton said. “Once this is done, we’re going to have two new runways. We have a lot interest, believe me, from the public. We’re ready to go.”

The work will cut the runway’s width in half from 150 to 75 feet. A lack of funding didn’t allow for the runway to be renovated at its original width, however, Servis said the shrinkage hasn’t turned off airlines.

The neighbors living around the airport may have noticed less traffic around the area compared to the last runway repair. Since that time, the airport installed a maintenance road.

“It was a big lesson learned from the 5-23 project,” Servis said. “Hauling all these trucks and all this equipment with the asphalt back and forth through the neighborhood drove the neighbors crazy.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.

Original story here.

Whaling Museum’s big exhibition landing in South End arts space

In true “Greatest Showman” style, the imminent exhibition of the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Grand Panorama of a Whaling Museum ’Round the World is being billed as “A Spectacle in Motion.”

It is certainly going to be that — and a whole lot more.

The Standard-Times was given exclusive media access to plans for the exhibition of the restored 19th century 1,275-foot work of art, Grand Panorama of a Whaling Museum ’Round the World last week at the museum.

From that meeting, we can now report that the legacy cultural event of the summer will take place in the city at none other than Kilburn Mills Studios on West Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford’s South End.

It is there where the Whaling Museum found the space and proper historical ambiance to reveal the restored Grand Panorama to the world in a special off-site exhibit that will open on July 14 and remain on view through October 8, 2018.

“Kilburn Mills was built in 1903,” says Tina Malott, museum director of marketing and public relations, “The same year the Whaling Museum was founded.”

It’s not the only bit of serendipity behind this inspired choice.

The selection of Kilburn Mills as an exhibition site for the panorama comes as the building itself is undergoing a renewal — along with the entire “peninsula” section of the city.

As such, the Whaling Museum’s decision to show the panorama there reinforces the idea that arts and culture is not only a means in itself, but a means to an end. It has the power to reinvigorate a city and revitalize neighborhoods by its very exercise in often overlooked spaces.

Just as this unique panorama was once forgotten but given new life, “A Spectacle in Motion” brings national attention to all of the City of New Bedford’s cultural and emotional infrastructure.

The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World

Without hyperbole, it’s accurate to write that The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World is a national treasure.

It is a 1,275-foot-long painting on canvas that depicts a whaling voyage — originating in New Bedford, of course. Which is no surprise, since it was painted in 1848 by New Bedford artists Benjamin Russell and Caleb Purrington, when the city was secure in its position as the world’s top whaling port.

Museum materials state that it is a unique work of art because it is one of only a few surviving American moving panoramas — a popular art and entertainment form that reached its peak in the mid-19th century.

Panoramas were very much the movies of the time period.

In its entirety, and accompanied by narration, music and other special effects, this Grand Panorama ran a feature-length two hours.

All panoramas were “played” across a stage in a theatrical setting from spool to spool — much like early films ran from reel to reel.

According to Whaling Museum Chief Curator Christina Connett, panoramas can be placed squarely in the context of a rising middle class enjoying leisure time in the nascent industrial age. It is very much a part of the burgeoning popular entertainment forms of the day, like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show; P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth; and other amusements like World Fairs.

Indeed, over a century after its initial “theatrical” run, the Grand Panorama was exhibited at the 1964 World’s Fair in Corona, Queens. It’s next stop after that? A former furniture store on Pope’s Island, New Bedford in 1969!

But a showing way back in 1849 at the Boston Armory intrigues Christina Connett the most.

The historical record shows that Herman Melville was at his sister’s home a few blocks away from the armory at the time the Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World was on display — the adventure of which his own popular early novels, like “Typee” and “Oomo,” brought to life.

“It’s nice to imagine that he saw the ‘Panorama’ when he was there,” she says.

Restoring the Grand Panorama

It’s nice to imagine that anyone can see the Grand Panorama at all — let alone back in the city where it was created over 150 years ago.

Thanks to some more serendipity and a lot of hard work, imagination becomes reality — and digital reimagination — this summer at Kilburn and the Whaling Museum.

The museum chanced upon ownership of the work of art when it was donated to them in 1918 by Benjamin Cummings — who found it in a local attic. Some 300 feet were missing, so the voyage ’round the world ends at Fiji — but at 1,275 feet it’s still likely the longest painting in the United States. (A nice piece of promo material at the museum teases visitors with the fact that the painting is actually longer than the Empire State Building is tall.)

The Whaling Museum has exhibited sections of it at various times over the years, and as noted, it made its way to New York City and Pope’s Island in the 1960s, just about a century after its original tour of East Coast and Midwest cities like Cincinnati, Buffalo, St. Louis, Baltimore, New York and Boston from 1849 through 1870.

The restored Grand Panorama visitors will see at Kilburn is the first time it has been publicly shown since the 1970s, when only sections of it were on display at the Whaling Museum before being put in storage.

Christina Connett says that the goal of the restoration project wasn’t perfection, but stabilization so that it lasts another 100 years.

“We want people to see it for what it was back in the 19th century,” she explains, “So there are some small abrasions and the like which allows the authenticity to show.”

 As part of the conservation effort, the panorama was photographed in blocks — and those images will be put to good use in a new, permanent exhibit outside the Lagoda half-scale whaling ship replica in the museum’s Bourne Building.

The 15-minute running time digital display will mimic the original movement of the Grand Panorama — while the original will be displayed in its entirety at Kilburn mounted on static, brushed aluminum panels of 400 feet each.

Both the actual and digital exhibits will also feature new, original artwork commissioned by the museum, special performances at various times and other related ephemera of the period over the course of the summer exhibit. After that, elements of it will hit the road for another tour, just as it did in the 19th century.

The Grand Panorama at Kilburn

Which brings us up to the present day — and the exciting decision to display the restored Grand Panorama at Kilburn.

Kilburn Mills Studios — officially called Kilburn Mill at Clarks Cove — itself occupies a special place in the city’s emotional infrastructure.

Originally a textile mill, most city residents probably recall it as the former home of Madewell, the apparel company. Today, Kilburn Mills Studios is home to an eclectic range of businesses as it undergoes its own renovation.

A gym, a dancing studio, a silk screening company, a vast antiques store and other going concerns call it home. Significant improvements have recently been made to the building, including new windows, a new roof, refurbished staircases and more.

Importantly for this story and in the context of the creative destination New Bedford has become, a number of noted artists maintain studios in the building. Artists like Mark “Maki” Carvalho, Kelly Zelen, Will Wolf and others.

It also houses the gem-like Judith Klein Art Gallery & Studio, which in addition to beautiful works of art also boasts a stunning view of the new Cove Walk atop the Hurricane Barrier — and Clarks Cove itself in the rear of the building.

Further, the owner of Colo Colo Gallery, Luis Villanueva, has an outdoor sculpture garden on the drawing board for the property.

And all of this sits in the South End of New Bedford at the entrance to what is referred to as the “peninsula” area, which encompasses the city’s municipal beaches, Fort Rodman, Fort Taber, a companion Hurricane Barrier walk to the east, Harbor Walk, and too much more to mention.

The decision by the Whaling Museum to exhibit the Grand Panorama here and in this context is an amazing opportunity to thrust the entire peninsula and its many attractions into the spotlight when literally the eyes of the region and nation will be on the Grand Panorama.

This is arts and culture at work across the city — for the good of the entire city.

You could call it A Spectacle in Motion.

Steven Froias blogs for the coworking facility, Groundwork! at NewBedfordCoworking.com. Email: StevenFroias@gmail.com.

Aquaculture next objective of New Bedford officials

Mayor Jon Mitchell was taking his daily run atop the hurricane barrier late last year when he had a realization: There are a lot of things one cannot do amid the huge granite blocks on the barrier’s sides.

Development is out. Swimming, out. Boating, out. It defied the imagination. Then he thought of aquaculture. The barrier now was a sheltered spot where aquaculture might be practiced while annoying as few people as possible in places such as Clark’s Cove.

One thing led to another, until Tuesday when a lengthy survey report was made public, spelling out the advantages and disadvantages of shellfish farming on the SouthCoast shore of Buzzards Bay.

On the merits, the report, funded by Coastal Enterprises, Inc. of Portland, Maine and the Garfield Foundation, found that if the region plays its hand right, aquaculture could become a significant contributor to the local economy, dovetailing nicely with the fishing industry that, as of now, doesn’t fish in Buzzards Bay.

The CEI exists “to grow good jobs, environmentally sustainable enterprises and shared prosperity in Maine, and across the U.S. People of all income levels can fulfill their promise and reach their full potential,” said the report.

Sound off now on downtown New Bedford parking

SouthCoast Today: Our View
Posted Mar 1, 2018 at 8:20 PM

Find the survey at newbedford-ma.gov/ParkingSurvey.

Everyone has a gripe about parking.

There’s not enough of it. The meters run out too quickly and the fines are too high. Parking officers are mean. The garages are too far from my workplace. And on and on and on.

If you’ve been aching to sound off about parking issues in downtown New Bedford, now is the time to do it.

State and city planners want to hear your concerns, your user experiences and yes, your complaints. Think of it like this: If you don’t take advantage of the opportunity now, you might lose the high ground when you feel like complaining later.

The first way to make your thoughts known is by completing a survey. It’s sitting online right now, waiting to be filled out by visitors, workers, residents, business owners, students and anyone else with a reason to park, drive or do business in downtown New Bedford. Responses will be collected for three to four weeks.

The survey shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to complete, and it’s filled with questions that get to the heart of the downtown parking issues:

• How long does it take you to find a parking space?

• Where do you park most frequently?

• Have you ever left downtown because you were unable to find parking?

• And this one — which might be everybody’s favorite: What else would you like to tell us about parking downtown?

But the survey is only one part of a comprehensive study. The second way to be heard is during two public workshops next Tuesday (March 6). The first is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in a roving tent downtown. The second runs from 5-7:30 p.m. in the conference room of UMass Dartmouth’s Star Store campus at 715 Purchase St. in New Bedford.

Jim McKeag, a fellow with MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative, says the idea is to look at parking issues from different viewpoints and find smart solutions.

McKeag and others have heard concerns about parking from multiple sources in New Bedford — business owners, customers, public officials and more. And with the understanding that you can’t take a serious look at a problem in one small area unless you put it into the larger context, New Bedford’s parking study will gather information on both the city’s waterfront and its downtown area.

MassDevelopment, which manages State Pier; the Harbor Development Commission, which oversees harbor facilities; and the city are sharing the $75,000 price tag. Results will be collected and analyzed alongside additional research by Stantec Consulting Services.

The study area will include all of the downtown area, bounded by Kempton Street to the north, Walnut Street to the south, County Street to the west, and Route 18 to the east — plus the school administration building on County Street. Waterfront areas include the Whale’s Tooth parking lot, Pier 3, State Pier, Steamship Pier, Homer’s Wharf, Leonard’s Wharf, and available space at the Eversource site.

So what happens after the info is collected? Well, we’ve been assured that it’s not simply to write a report and file it away in some three-ring binder.

McKeag says the survey dives deep into parking behavior — how people use the existing parking and why they park in one place instead of another. So the responses might lead to sensible adjustments that bring big results.

The city might need different regulations for different users. Or officials might want to change the time limits on some meters. Maybe the price could be adjusted between parking garages and downtown meters. And maybe there simply needs to be more permanent spaces.

Planners intend to share their results with the public when Stantec completes its research.

It all sounds good to us, especially with the growing links between downtown and the city’s working waterfront — ferry service, restaurants, the hotel and a growing tourism industry.

We encourage everyone with an interest in parking to fill out the survey and attend Tuesday’s meeting. The effort could bring meaningful results. Plus, you’ll get the chance to gripe about parking with someone who is actually listening.

Original story here.

‘Lighting the Way’: Group sheds light on SouthCoast women

Posted Mar 5, 2018 at 2:19 PM

When it comes to SouthCoast history, you likely know the names Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville and Paul Cuffe. And while that’s important, a local group hopes you also know the names Marie Equi, Martha Bailey Briggs and Charlotte White.

“I hope when teachers in New Bedford are talking about Frederick Douglass, they’re also talking about Martha Bailey Briggs. That when they’re talking about Rockefeller, they’re also talking about Hetty Green.” — Committee Member Sarah Rose

When it comes to SouthCoast history, you likely know the names Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville and Paul Cuffe.

And while that’s important, a local group hopes you also know the names Marie Equi, Martha Bailey Briggs and Charlotte White.

That’s why they’ve started “Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the South Coast.”

The massive interactive history project is aimed at shedding light on women’s roles in history and “unearthing remarkable stories of women’s personal callings that required grit, tenacity and enduring commitment to their families, community and country,” project designer Christina Bascom said.

Spearheaded by the Whaling Museum, the alliance of organizations and individuals on the Lighting the Way Committee is working together in a prodigious years-long plan to educate SouthCoasters about the strong women who helped shape our history.

Aspects of the project will unfold over the next two years, organizers said.

Staring in July, you’ll be able to download an app to your phone, or grab a map, and embark on a historic walking trail throughout downtown New Bedford, stopping at some 34 landmarks highlighting compelling women’s stories.

Also in July, you’ll also be able to click through Lighting the Way’s website, currently under construction, to learn stories of some 90 educators and philanthropists, abolitionists and crusaders for social justice, investors and confectioners, and more.

The committee also plans to create a companion curriculum for local schools.

And, coming in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of women’s voting rights, they tentatively plan on unveil public art displays.

This project is not just for women, organizers were clear to point out.

“This is very inclusive and open to everybody,” said Bascom. “It’s a boon for historical societies and people who want to do research. We’re very careful to use words like ‘amplify history’ — this is not about creating a women’s history. This is about bringing balance to existing history. These women add so much color and dimension to the history of SouthCoast. It’s quite lopsided without them.”

Sarah Rose, a committee member and project leader, and Whaling Museum vice president of Education and Programs, had similar sentiments:

“We’re looking to bring life to women’s voices, to inspire generations. That’s why part of our mission is creating student curriculum — so students understand the contribution of women as significantly as they understand the contributions of men,” she said.

“I hope when teachers in New Bedford are talking about Frederick Douglass, they’re also talking about Martha Bailey Briggs. When they’re talking about Rockefeller, they’re also talking about Hetty Green,” Rose said.

“We’re really trying to stay away from criticizing history told to date— this isn’t women’s history, we’re just trying to fill in history,” Rose said. “We’re adding stories from the other fifty percent.”

There are some 90 women in total profiled as part of the project. Some lived in the 1700s; others died two years ago. Many came as submissions to the group.

If you’d like to nominate a woman of historical significance — one catch: they must be dead — contact Rose at the Whaling Museum.

Research into the women’s lives is being led by Whaling Museum research fellow Ann O’Leary, along with a team of some 10 researchers who assist her.

They have completed about 50 profiles, O’Leary said.

“All of the women rose up when they experienced or witnessed a need, and they pushed through obstacles and mobilized themselves and others,” said O’Leary, library media specialist at Bishop Stang High School and the Emily Bourne Fellow at the Whaling Museum.

Bourne is a woman of historical significance: Her gift to the Old Dartmouth Historical Society in 1915 funded construction of the world’s largest ship model, the Lagoda, and the building that houses it at the Whaling Museum, the Bourne Building.

THE ROOTS

Shedding light on women’s role in SouthCoast history was a long-held dream of Bascom’s.

The Standard-Times 2008 Marion Woman of the Year, Bascom has been involved in numerous SouthCoast community projects — from helping to found the Marion Institute, to helping found Our Sisters School in New Bedford, among many other initiatives.

“For a long time, I tried to get someone to write a book about the historic women of SouthCoast,” said Bascom.

She said in late 2016, over lunch with Rose and then Whaling Museum President James Russell, “I said, ‘This is an idea I have kicking around,’ …and this thing started rolling, and we realized we wanted something more interactive.”

The plans for a website, GPS smartphone app, walking trail, and school curriculum grew from there.

Bascom said the interactive walking trail phone app will hopefully leave a lasting impact on young SouthCoasters.

On the app, which will work with a phone’s GPS, you’ll be able to see an interactive map indicating nearby “Lighting the Way” landmarks and points of interest, while providing links to images and biographies of the associated historical figures at each address.

For those who prefer old-school paper, there will be a printed map, as well.

“There’s a quote from an article in TIME I read, ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.’ And to have young girls, and boys, going around and being able to see the history — that will hopefully leave a lasting impact for future generations,” Bascom said.

Rose added, “A cornerstone of this project is using stories of historic women to inspire generations to come.”

To get involved, contact Rose at srose@whalingmuseum.org, 508-997-0046 x118.

Lauren Daley is a freelance writer. Contact her at ldaley33@gmail.com. Follow her at https://www.facebook.com/daley.writer. She tweets@laurendaley1.

Original story here:

‘Cultural Compact’ signifies collaboration between arts, New Bedford

Posted Mar 1, 2018 at 7:17 PM

With each signature scribbled onto the four documents within the Ashley Room at City Hall on Thursday night, the spotlight shining on New Bedford’s cultural scene grew brighter.

Mayor Jon Mitchell, Rick Kidder as the co-chair of the Executive Committee of the Seaport Cultural District, Anita Walker of Mass Cultural Council and Nicole Merusi of the New Bedford Cultural Council all signed a Cultural Compact, which is intended to increase and expand collaboration and partnership within the city’s art community.

“We are headlong into efforts to really activate one of New Bedford’s primary assets and that is the collection of artistic and cultural aspects that makes our city really unique,” Mitchell said.

Only six communities in the state were selected to pilot the program, which will develop a framework to spark creative partnerships between local government and cultural leaders within the community.

Walker said applications weren’t taken for the program, rather the Mass Cultural Council selected cities that offered the best opportunity for success.

The city and the Mass Cultural Council have a history of success, Walker said, from the creation of cultural district program to the cultural facilities fund.

“When we start something new, to be honest with you, we don’t want to make it harder than it has to be. We want to make it as easy as it possibly can be,” Walker said. “And the way you do that is you bring a partner that is a proven partner and that we have worked with successfully.”

With the program, Mass Cultural Council intends to provide technical assistance through webinars, podcasts, meetings, training and workshops.

The Cultural Council and Seaport Cultural District will provide programs aimed at increasing artist sustainability, updating the public art inventory, increasing the promotion of current art, music and culture programs as well as developing online resources.

“The Cultural Compact is really putting down on paper and institutionalizing a lot of the things that have been happening here already,” Walker said.

The city began its Arts Culture and Tourism Fund in 2016. State Sen. Mark Montigny led the required passage through the state legislature.

Last year, the relationship between the city and its cultural scene continued with the addition of Margo Saulnier, the city’s cultural coordinator.

Saulnier quoted English playwright Bernard Shaw as he compared his life to a torch that can burn bright for everyone to see.

“The individuals in the creative community and creative economy has already been carrying this splendid torch,” Saulnier said. “So the cultural compact that we’ll be signing and the arts and culture plan that we’re in the early stages of developing will make it bright as possible for the city’s future generations.”

Follow Michael Bonner on Twitter @MikeBBonnerSCT.

Original story here.

Eversource cleanup on New Bedford waterfront

Posted Feb 8, 2018 at 7:29 PM

Eversource plans to begin a $5 million environmental cleanup next week at its former service-center site on MacArthur Drive, adjacent to the former NStar power plant.

The property is widely considered one of the most valuable redevelopment opportunities on the New Bedford waterfront.

“This is exciting news,” said Derek Santos, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council. “It’s an important first step.”

The soil contains coal tar from the historical production of manufactured gas, before natural gas was widely used. When gas is produced from coal and oil, viscous coal tar is left behind.

Although it was used for roofing and other purposes, coal tar was also released into the ground at the Eversource site, said James Ash, senior vice president at GEI Consultants, the environmental contractor for the cleanup.

The work will involve excavating about 18,000 square feet of the parking lot and mixing cement-based grout into the soil. When it hardens, the resulting solid will not leach contaminants into the water or air, according to James Adamik, an Eversource hydrogeologist.

“Nothing leaves it,” he said.

By Thursday, workers had already delivered two excavators, a grout silo, hoses for pumping the grout, and other supplies to the site. Excavation will take place next to MacArthur Drive, in the southerly of two parking lots that are south of the Fairfield Inn.

First, workers will remove the pavement and four to five feet of soil. That soil is relatively clean and does not need treating, Adamik said. Then, they will pump grout into the hole and mix it with the remaining soil, going down 15 to 17 feet or until they hit bedrock.

The hardened mixture will be covered with about three feet of soil from the original upper layer, enough to bring the land up to level.

Ash, of GEI, said the rest of the removed soil will go to a landfill.

GEI is monitoring air quality on the site in real time. Non-toxic foam will be pumped onto the ground to control odors.

The work is expected to take about three months.

The cleanup should cost about $5 million, funded by Eversource and recovered through gas rates, according to company representatives.

Eversource does not own the power plant. Sprague Energy bought a portion of the property containing the plant and adjacent oil tanks in 2005 as a bulk petroleum terminal. Together, the two parcels are often called the NStar site, for Eversource’s previous name.

Eversource owns 18 acres there, and Sprague owns 11. Eversource relocated its employees to the New Bedford Business Park late last summer.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said in 2016 that the northern portion of the site should align with development in the downtown area and the southern portion should remain industrial. He was not available for comment Thursday afternoon.

Santos, of the Economic Development Council, said two large waterfront parcels — Revere Copper and Eversource/Sprague — were “sort of chained down” by casino proposals for a decade.

Asked what might work well on the site, he said the northern part of the site, near the Fairfield Inn, could be used for expanded hotel and convention space, and the rest could be used for offshore wind, fish offloading or as a shipyard. Shipyard jobs pay well, he said.

The city has been engaged in a waterfront planning process for several years.

Original story here.

BCC, CATCH Institute partner on offshore wind training program

Posted Feb 27, 2018 at 12:06 PM

While participating in the US-UK Offshore Wind Ports and Supply Chain Delegation in London and Hull, England, Bristol Community College President Laura L. Douglas visited the Center for Assessment of Technical Competency in the Humber (CATCH) Institute, to sign a memorandum of understanding between BCC and the CATCH Institute.

The CATCH Institute, in Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, England, is an industry-led partnership supporting the process, energy, engineering, and renewable industries in the Humber (Northern England) region. CATCH operates a world-renowned CATCH training facility that provides skills, training, and competency solutions for industries across the UK and internationally.

CATCH will provide BCC with technical assistance, including a “train the trainer” program, a student knowledge transfer, overseas training program, and will support BCC’s vision of building a national offshore wind training center in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

The partnership creates a framework for collaboration in the field of offshore wind to support educational training and skills development activities for the benefit of the UK and USA, with the ultimate goal of creating a strong, vibrant, and sustainable industry.

BCC is currently offering an engineering technology/offshore wind power technology concentration of its Associate in Science in Engineering Technology (Offshore Wind Power Technology), as well as a Certificate of Recognition in offshore wind power technician. Both programs prepare students to work as technicians for the offshore wind power industry.

Students learn aspects of engineering technology such as electrical machinery, fluid systems, materials science, and strength of materials, and gain hands-on experience with assembly, installation, operation and maintenance of wind power systems.

Original story here.