Fleet Fisheries’ new scallop boat is turning heads

NEW BEDFORD — When you see the new fishing vessel Viking Power, you’ll know it.

Due to arrive in New Bedford in early November, the unusual-looking scalloper has a hull that slopes outward at the bow. Just below the water line, it comes to a rounded point, like the nose of rocket.

Fleet Fisheries owner Lars Vinjerud II commissioned the boat. He said the aerodynamic shape serves two goals: to make the boat more fuel efficient, and to make it more comfortable and safer for the crew. The boat should do less pitching in rough seas.

“The waves are supposed to roll up and roll off,” he said.

Vinjerud designed the boat in concert with an Alabama shipyard, Williams Fabrication, which built the boat in Bayou La Batre, Alabama — the same harbor where the fictional Forrest Gump landed shrimp.

The Viking Power replaces Fleet Fisheries’ previous vessel of the same name, and it comes equipped with innovations and comforts not common in older commercial fishing boats.

“This boat has a lot of firsts,” Vinjerud said. “This whole boat is outside the box.”

It is one of the first scallopers without gallows or booms, he said. Instead, it uses an A-frame rig that eliminates several of the steps the crew must take to bring the net on board.

The boat has a blast-chilling system that can quickly freeze up to 5,000 pounds of scallops a day.

The bilge pump separates oil from water, so oil won’t get released into the ocean.

Plus, the interior floors are cushioned, to go easy on the crew’s knees and hips. The boat also has built-in recycling stations for bottles and cans.

Innovative gear and amenities don’t come cheap. Vinjerud said he does not have the final price, but it will be in the $5 million range. That’s about 40% more than a typical fishing boat, he said.

Vinjerud lives in Florida and Fairhaven. He said he plans to head to Alabama shortly for the vessel’s sea trials. A crew will take it out to make sure the boat is stable, set up the electronics, and see that the engines are running well.

Come November, he will pilot the Viking Power up to New Bedford.

He’s excited but a little nervous, he said. Any new vessel has bugs to work out, and he anticipates the new Viking Power may have more than most.

He hasn’t gone on a commercial fishing trip in 25 years, but he plans to go on at least one trip on the new boat.

“Because it’s so different, I want to make sure we get off to a good start,” he said.

Vinjerud has gotten some compliments on the boat from people who say it sets the stage for the future of fishing. As he looks toward his own family’s future, that’s all right by him.

“You pass away someday,” he said, “and you want to pass on a legacy.”

Original story here.

Letter: Fairness and regional equity are essential for community wellness

Southcoast Health has stepped up to the challenge, and now we need insurance providers such as BCBSMA to join them in investing in the health of our city and region.

The Standard-Times verifies and reviews all letters to the editor we receive. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not those of The Standard-Times.

Perhaps what is most important to all of us is good health. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness impacts everything we do — from our ability to focus at school or work, to connect with family and neighbors, and to contribute to the success of the community at large. If we are not healthy as a community, everything, especially job creation, productivity, and economic growth, becomes so much more difficult.

At present, New Bedford has work to do towards improving public health. As a community we struggle disproportionately with obesity, smoking, hypertension, mental health, diabetes, substance use, inactivity, and frequent poor physical and mental health. Much of our population lacks access to dental care, our seniors rarely receive preventive care, and many patients end up in the emergency room.

To create systematic change in the health of our community we need strong local institutions with top-rated professionals, facilities, and programs in place. Southcoast Health is just such an institution and St. Luke’s Hospital has been a cornerstone of our city for generations. We were proud to read this summer that US News and World Report ranked Southcoast Hospitals number eight in its list of Best Regional Hospitals in Massachusetts. Such recognition validates the professionalism of the staff and the significant investments that Southcoast Health has made to deliver high-quality clinical services here in our region. They offer advanced clinical care that rivals the best institutions in this state and have continuously reinvested meaningful resources right here in New Bedford.

We understand that since May, Southcoast Health has been actively engaged in negotiations with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) in hopes of agreeing on terms for a new contract effective January 1, 2020. These negotiations are happening at a time when the cost of healthcare is a national conversation, often set in a divisive political context. However, that debate only serves as distraction since this specific issue is about regional fairness for our citizens. We feel strongly that these negotiations reach a resolution that allows our local hospitals, physicians, and citizen patients to be treated fairly and equitably. For far too long, this has not been the case in our region.

Many individuals and families in New Bedford are covered by BCBSMA and have expressed concerns about their decision to potentially terminate the contract with Southcoast Health should negotiations for a fair rate not be resolved. If this occurs, many local employers will be forced to send their employees out of the region for care — hardly a realistic option for many in New Bedford. And make no mistake about it; traveling out of the region for care will cost these families far more out of pocket than modest adjustment to their premiums if a resolution on fair reimbursement cannot be found. We value the investments that Southcoast Health has made to ensure that residents of New Bedford and the neighboring towns can get quality care in their own communities. For many of them, switching to a different healthcare system will not just mean additional cost and unnecessary inconvenience, but sacrificing long-standing, valued relationships with their clinical providers.

As a group of community leaders whose priority is to promote sustainable and transformative economic development, we have become accustomed to competing with Boston for top talent and resources, but we refuse to accept the notion that we must also compete for access to high-quality healthcare. With the continued growth of our region’s economy, we need a healthcare system that can grow along with us. We stated as much in our 2018 policy report, Realizing the Potential: A City of Innovation, Collaborative Leadership, and Creativity.

Southcoast Health has stepped up to the challenge, and now we need insurance providers such as BCBSMA to join them in investing in the health of our city and region. The facts show that this is not about Southcoast Health simply wanting more money, and we are asking that BCBSMA rethink its decision to prioritize the hospitals of other regions over those on the South Coast. To this end, we sincerely hope that BCBSMA will find common ground with Southcoast Health on the equitable and fair reimbursement rates that our region deserves.

We are writing on behalf of The Regeneration Project of the New Bedford Economic Development Council — a collaborative platform that represents community, institutional, and business leaders who are committed to shaping, advocating for, and tangibly advancing strategies for sustainable and shared growth for the City of New Bedford and the region.

The following members of the Regeneration Committee signed this letter: Maureen Sylvia Armstrong, co-chair, president, CEO and owner, Sylvia Group Insurance; Anthony Sapienza, co-chair, President, New Bedford Economic Development Council; Cheryl Bartlett, CEO, Greater New Bedford Community Health Center; Anne Broholm, CEO, AHEAD, LLC; Rick Kidder, president and CEO, SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce; Peter Muise, president and CEO, First Citizens Federal Credit Union; Dr. Robert Johnson, chancellor, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; Dr. Laura Douglas, president, Bristol Community College;

David Slutz, managing director, Potentia Holdings; Elizabeth Isherwood, chairman, Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation; Helena DaSilva Hughes, executive director, Immigrants’ Assistance Center; Christopher Rezendes, founder and president, INEX Advisors; Amanda McMullen, president and CEO, New Bedford Whaling Museum; Doug Glassman, owner, SERVPRO of New Bedford/Dartmouth; Paul Chasse, CEO, Realtor Association of Southeastern MA; Jeff Glassman, president, Darnit! Inc.;

Jennifer Downing, executive director, Leadership SouthCoast; Richard Canastra, owner, Whaling City Display Auction; Joseph Nauman, executive vice president, Corporate and Legal (retired), Acushnet Company; John Vasconcellos, president, Community Foundation of SE MA; Rosemary Gill, executive director, Zeiterion Performing Arts Center; Maria Rosario, executive director, NorthStar Learning Centers; Adam Cove, CEO, Edson International, and Sarah Athanas, co-founder, Groundwork.

Original story here.

$1 million more directed to boost local arts and culture

The arts community in New Bedford and Fall River is on the cusp of receiving another influx of cash. A million-dollar investment to be precise.

The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, which has administered the Creative Commonwealth Initiative grants for the last two years, announced that the Boston-based Barr Foundation is looking to augment that fund over the next three years to the tune of $1 million.

“To receive the funds, the Community Foundation will need to raise an additional $220,000 from local donors,” a press release from the Community Foundation stated.

“Over the past three years, the Community Foundation has taken a very public and leading role in the promotion of the role of arts and culture as essential to the lives of the residents of and visitors to the cities of Fall River and New Bedford.

“From a deep investment in public art that has, in the past year, changed the visual landscape of our cities, to the support of cultural celebrations as diverse as this past weekend’s Fabric Festival in Fall River and Festival Tipíco in New Bedford the previous weekend, to a partnership with area non-profits that is building professional expertise and providing technical assistance, the first phase of the Initiative has been an exciting and impactful effort.”

Over two years, Creative Commonwealth grants have focused on funding public art projects and cultural projects, respectively. Additional funding through the initiative has helped area nonprofits build a stronger foundation to form boards, seek private funding and execute projects.

This new funding will help underpin those efforts, officials said.

“This additional funding will build upon lessons learned over the past three years of the effort,” the press release states. “Specifically, the Community Foundation will be investing more robustly in building the capacity of arts and culture nonprofit organizations in New Bedford and Fall River in order to create long-lasting and sustainable change. The focus of the Creative Commonwealth Initiative will remain on supporting culturally diverse communities, immigrants, and youth in both cities”

The announcement of this extension is the continuation of a 10-year partnership with the Barr Foundation and five community foundations throughout the state including the Berkshire-Taconic Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Essex County Community Foundation, and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.

While each community foundation has approached the past two years from different perspectives and through varied outlets, the ultimate goal is the same — to help deepen community engagement with and philanthropic investment in the arts. The initiative is dedicated to building bridges, developing leadership, and helping to create wholistic perception of arts and culture as an integral facet of the region.

“When we began this work in 2017, our shared hypothesis was straightforward: We believe arts and creativity are essential for thriving communities, that community foundations are well-positioned to catalyze more vibrant and sustainable arts ecosystems in the regions they serve, and that community foundation impact can be enhanced through strategies they design and pursue in their respective contexts,” San San Wong, director of arts and creativity and Jim Canales, president, stated in a recent Barr Foundation blog post.

According to John Vasconcellos, president of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, “This work and the investment from the Barr Foundation is a bold confirmation of the unique role that community foundations play, as match-makers between philanthropists — both locally and outside the region — and the great work that is happening in our communities. Community Foundations understand both sides of that equation and when thoughtful and innovative, can bring significant change, improvement, and investment into our communities. This Initiatives proves that.”

What started with community conversations in 2017 morphed into a two-year pilot phase with over $100,000 raised and over $360,000 directly granted to nonprofit organizations through grants and trainings. Public Art grants in September 2018 made a splash with nearly $200,000 being granted to arts and culture nonprofits in New Bedford and Fall River.

Installations, festivals, and murals brought arts to the streets of Fall River and New Bedford this summer and fall as a result of those grants.

January 2019 launched the beginning of a six-month capacity building series for arts and culture nonprofit organizations. Twelve nonprofits were trained on marketing and branding, finance, fundraising, and more. Shared learning opportunities will continue through the rest of the year.

Two large workshops were offered for free and open to anyone to attend, bringing national arts trainers Arts Midwest and Springboard for the Arts to the Southcoast.

Summer 2019 awarded $111,000 in cultural expression grants to almost a dozen organizations organizing and elevating the artistic expression of some of the cultural and ethnic groups that are often glanced over in the conversation about “mainstream arts.”

The Get Out and Art! Summer Program sought to address the obstacle of transportation and access to youth arts programming. Grants were awarded to the New Bedford Art Museum and Dream Out Loud Center for the Arts to lead their programs on site in community centers at two New Bedford Housing Authority locations.

“The vibrancy of arts and culture in the region is apparent and the impact that the Creative Commonwealth has had over the past year and a half has contributed to a shift of appreciation and investment in the arts,” the press release states. “Accessibility, networking, collaboration, outreach, and capacity have all been amplified amongst our grantees and the community-at-large. The Community Foundation has learned that while key additions can be put in place, community change happens organically. Ideas cannot be forced into neighborhoods and desired outcomes do not take place without input and shared learning.

“The next three years will take a deeper dive into further developing and strengthening the capacity of arts and culture nonprofit organizations; it will build upon the current work with the cities’ youth through Get Out and Art!; it will continue to work with donors to increase local philanthropy and ensure the sustainability of the Initiative; it will offer opportunities for community members to grow with and learn from each other; it will be representative of the cultural and ethnic diversity that makes Fall River and New Bedford unique. This is just the beginning of an exciting and meaningful journey. There is still much work to be done, but the future looks very promising.”

“The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts has been laying the groundwork for a stronger and more sustainable arts and creativity sector. Their investments in the effectiveness of grassroots arts organizations are already paying dividends in the community,” stated San San Wong.

“The Community Foundation is thrilled to continue this partnership with the Barr Foundation and other funders to grow and sustain investment in arts and culture in the region. Stay up to date on the Creative Commonwealth Initiative by ‘liking’ the Community Foundation on Facebook.”

Original story here.

Quinn Fisheries buys six of Carlos Rafael’s scallop boats

NEW BEDFORD — Quinn Fisheries, a father and son who own six city fishing boats and who are expanding into their other waterfront operations, has purchased six of Carlos Rafael’s 11 scallop vessels.

According to Undercurrents, a fishing industry publication, the acquisition was confirmed by Michael Quinn, the operations manager and co-owner of the company with his father Charlie Quinn. The purchase doubles the size of their scallop fleet to 12 and will cost the company about $40 million.

Mayor Jon Mitchell announced the purchase at a hastily announced 3:30 press conference Wednesday afternoon. The mayor had sought to keep the bulk of Rafael’s boats in New Bedford after federal courts ordered the fleet owner to get out of the fishing industry after he was convicted of falsifying fishing records. He is currently serving a nearly 4-year federal prison sentence at Fort Devens.

“With the Quinn family’s acquisition of Carlos Rafael’s scallopers and related permits, New Bedford can be assured that a major piece of Rafael’s fishing business will remain here, as we have advocated all along,” Mitchell said in a statement released later in the afternoon. “The Quinns are a widely respected local fishing family that continue to reinvest in the port, and create and retain good paying jobs.”

The Quinns made news in July when their company, Shoreline Resources, LLC, purchased the 14-acre Revere Copper Products property on the waterfront for $50,000. They plan on turning the former copper products factor on North Front Street into a commercial shipyard for both shipbuilding and repairs.

According to Undercurrent, the Quinns had a previous deal to buy seven of Rafael’s vessels for nearly $46 million in August. BASE’s seafood auction owners Richie and Raymond Canastra attempted to block the agreement as part of an apparent attempt to acquire the same vessels, according to Undercurrent News. A Bristol County court associate judge blocked a restraining order, freeing up the Quinns and Rafael to complete their purchase.

The new vessels acquired include the Acores, Athena, Apollo, Gypsy Girl, Hera II and Villa Novo Do II, according to Mitchell’s statement.

Original story here.

MassDevelopment to pilot arts development program in New Bedford; announces TDI grants aimed at the arts

The Barr Foundation is well-known in the New Bedford arts community thanks to its work in funding the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts’ Creative Commonwealth initiative and partnership with the Karman Family Foundation to give nearly $1 million last year in unrestricted funds to The New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks!, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra and the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center via the Barr-Klarman Massachusetts Arts Initiative.

New Bedford takes center stage in this latest grant announcement.

On Tuesday, MassDevelopment announced it will create new arts-based programming through the agency’s Transformative Development Initiative thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Barr Foundation.

Transformative Development Initiative, better known as TDI, is a program for Gateway Cities designed to accelerate economic growth within focused districts.

MassDevelopment will use grant funds to provide two new tools for TDI districts: (1) a competitive grant program for art and other creative industry projects aimed at catalyzing economic development and neighborhood revitalization, and (2) additional capacity in New Bedford to support a planning phase focused on creative industry development and arts and culture infrastructure.

In New Bedford, grant funds will support a year-long planning phase with key community partners to create a strategy to best enhance the local arts and culture infrastructure as a mechanism for supporting economic growth.

The goal of this planning phase is to form the foundation for a more comprehensive set of resources that could later be deployed elsewhere, bolstering the revitalization of Gateway Cities and re-establishing these communities as regional centers for art and culture, a press release from Mass Development stated.

Grant funds will support the salary of two staff members that will be centrally involved in this effort, including Margo Saulnier, Arts and Culture Strategist for the City of New Bedford, and Dena Haden, Program Manager for the Co-Creative Center.

Additionally, grant funds will also be used to hire an external consultant to help the partners facilitate the process and undertake an initial community-led pilot project.

“There is significant momentum building in New Bedford centered around arts, culture, and our city’s emerging creative economy,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “We are eager and grateful to work with MassDevelopment, the Barr Foundation, and other partners over the next year to explore opportunities to sustain and further amplify this momentum.”

In the first arm of the initiative, MassDevelopment will develop a two-year competitive grant program through which individuals and organizations in TDI districts can apply for grants ranging from $20,000 to $40,000 to support public-facing projects that serve to enhance local arts and culture infrastructure.

Current TDI districts – in the cities of Chelsea, Chicopee, Fall River, Fitchburg, Lawrence, Springfield, and Worcester (Main South) – as well as graduated TDI districts – in the cities of Brockton, Haverhill, Holyoke, Lynn, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Revere, and Worcester (Theatre District) – are eligible to apply.

This grant program will complement existing MassDevelopment grant programs that support Massachusetts’ creative economy, including TDI Local, Commonwealth Places, and the Collaborative Workspace Program. The Collaborative Workspace Program has also received support from the Barr Foundation; in 2016 the organization provided a three-year $1,965,000 grant to the program to expand support for arts-related collaborative workspaces in the Commonwealth.

“The Transformative Development Initiative represents a high-touch, partnership-based approach to neighborhood development in Gateway Cities, and we are seeing firsthand the major role that arts, cultural assets, and the creative economy play in positioning these former industrial centers to be economically competitive,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “We are thrilled to receive support from the Barr Foundation to provide new arts-based programming and assistance in these cities.”

During the program’s first three and a half years, MassDevelopment has invested $13.5 million in the TDI districts through tools such as technical assistance, real estate investments, grant programs, and fellows who work in the districts. That investment has directly influenced over $39.8 million and assisted an additional $80.6 million of public and private investments in the districts.

“Investing in arts and creativity generates so many benefits for communities,” said San San Wong, Barr Foundation Director of Arts & Creativity. “Not only is it a proven economic driver and way for businesses to attract and retain talent, it lifts up the voices and rich cultural expressions of our diverse neighborhoods. The arts and creativity help people build understanding and stronger connections — the ‘social infrastructure’ that is such a crucial feature of lasting economic and community revitalization. It is exciting to see MassDevelopment so fully embrace the potential for arts and creativity to enrich their efforts in the Gateway Cities, and it is our privilege to support this new work.”

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth. During FY2019, MassDevelopment financed or managed 316 projects generating investment of more than $2 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 9,743 jobs and build or preserve 1,992 housing units.

Original story here.

Proposed education funding bill could be ‘grand slam’ for New Bedford

NEW BEDFORD — The future looks promising for students in New Bedford Public Schools and the state after Thursday’s unveiling of an education funding reform bill which will go onto the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“It’s reasonable to predict that New Bedford could see at least a 10% increase in aid, conservatively speaking, as soon as FY2021,” Andrew O’Leary, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, said in a statement.

“That would be supplemented by significant charter school reimbursement changes (up to 75% of actual costs, with 100% of charter costs covered three years from now),” he said, noting it’s premature to pull out dollar figures from the bill.

The bill named the Student Opportunity Act would make a $1.5 billion new investment in state public education over the next seven years.

In a news release from his office, Sen. Mark Montigny said “The new formula should be a grand slam for New Bedford with significant increases in funding for chapter 70, low income students, English learners, special education, and charter schools, while resulting in major relief for New Bedford taxpayers who have been shouldering these burdens themselves for too long.”

Montigny noted that cities such as New Bedford have been “shortchanged” due to current formulas used to fund education.

“That is why I worked so hard to ensure that New Bedford received a substantial increase in this year’s fiscal budget above and beyond the formula allotment,” he said.

The foundation budget would be updated with estimates of school districts’ employee and retiree health care costs using data collected by the state’s Group Insurance Commission; increases in special education enrollment and cost assumptions; increases in funding for English learners differentiated by grade level; and would address the needs of districts educating high concentrations of students from low-income households, according to a fact sheet on the bill.

“What we are seeing is a reworking of the way schools are funded,” O’Leary said. “Therefore this is more than an aid increase discussion based around numbers. The big takeaway is that this is the most significant attempt to address the underfunded categories like healthcare, special education, and the additional cost of educating low income and English language learner students.”

Mayor Jon Mitchell called the bill “a promising step to help cities across the state, including New Bedford, to provide low-income students the education they deserve.”

Mitchell, in a statement, added he’s grateful that lawmakers have listened to those who, like himself, have advocated for increased state funding to level the playing field.

The bill would also increase foundation rates for guidance and psychological services, expand the special education circuit breaker to include transportation costs which would be phased in over four years and lift the annual cap on Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) spending for school construction and renovation.

It also includes a “21st Century Education Trust Fund” for districts and schools pursuing creative approaches to student learning and a Rural Schools Commission to investigate challenges facing rural and regional school districts with low and declining enrollment.

Districts like New Bedford which serve the largest percentage of low-income students in the state, according to a news release from Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral’s office, will receive an additional increment equal to 100% of their base foundation allotment.

That means nearly doubling the amount of funding attached to economically-disadvantaged students in New Bedford, the news release states.

“There are a lot of positive aspects of this bill, such as the push to fully fund the charter school reimbursement formula,” Cabral said. “But as this critical bill works its way through the Legislature and further analysis is conducted on its contents, I will continue to fight for important changes to how we fund charter schools as a state.”

He added he’s confident that the city will be a “clear winner” once the legislation is passed.

“Our City has a specific set of needs that must be met by the state and this bill provides a more-level playing field to properly educate our students,” Cabral said.

Original story here.

$18M Plumbers’ Supply headquarters opens in New Bedford Business Park

NEW BEDFORD — Plumbers’ Supply Company’s $18 million distribution facility and corporate headquarters in the New Bedford Business Park is officially operational.

The company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at their new 175,000 square foot building on Thursday as part of the Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation’s annual meeting.

The building is comprised of 20,000 square feet of office/training space and 155,000 square feet of warehouse space, according to Kevin Jones, who owns the company with other members of his family.

Jones said constructing the new building “was by far the largest undertaking in the history of our company.”

“This facility here is twice the size of our previous headquarters and should allow our company to add additional branches in the state which in turn we think will transfer to more good jobs in New Bedford,” Jones said.

Currently their facility will house 45 employees between their warehouse team and those working in the office, according to Jones.

The company has 20 locations — 17 wholesale and three kitchen and bath centers — in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.

A news release sent out by the city of New Bedford in advance of the ribbon-cutting described Plumbers’ Supply as a “New Bedford-based, family-owned plumbing, heating, and HVAC distribution business that was founded in New Bedford in the late 1800s.”

Mayor Jon Mitchell noted the company’s long history with the city at Thursday’s event. “I want to congratulate and thank the Jones family for investing in New Bedford and reinvesting in New Bedford. It’s a really great legacy going all the way back to the 1880s as Plumbers’ Supply and the Jones family since..the early 70s or so.”

“If business is good to New Bedford, New Bedford will be good to you in the long run in ways that you might not anticipate,” Mitchell added.

Jones specifically thanked the City Council and Mayor Jon Mitchell for “the approval of the TIF which was essential in making this project a reality.”

TIF stands for Tax Increment Financing and the New Bedford Economic Development Council describes it on their website as a program where “participating companies receive favorable state and local tax treatment in exchange for job creation and commitments for private investment.”

Members of the New Bedford Economic Council and the Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation were present at the ribbon-cutting and they highlighted the fact that 41 businesses are located in the business park and the arrival of Plumbers’ Supply only leaves them with one lot left to fill, which they’re already in negotiations to do.

“The city of New Bedford is prepared to support business expansion,” Mitchell said. “We want you to succeed.”

The Jones family wants to do just that. “We’re hoping to welcome you back in a few years for our expansion,” Jones said.

Orginal story here

Demolition of St. Anne’s set as city breaks ground on public safety center

 

NEW BEDFORD — A commanding South End corner, once home to St. Anne’s Church, will soon be transformed into a hub for fire, police and ambulance services.

Mayor Jon Mitchell, members of the City Council and leaders of the city’s public safety services held a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday for the South End Public Safety Center at 890 Brock Ave on the peninsula.

“This is a real mark of the city’s deciding to raise the bar for itself, to … build a first-rate public safety facility in a very important part of the city,” Mitchell said.

The 25,000 square-foot building will stretch from the corner of Brock Avenue and Ruth Street back to Salisbury Street, allowing fire trucks to enter from the rear. Trucks will exit directly onto Brock Avenue from four garage bays. A fifth bay will house an ambulance.

“The Ruth Street neighborhood has suffered for many decades, especially after Saint Anne’s Church closed over two decades ago,” Mitchell said. “It’s become less stable. Although in the last few years it has certainly become more stable and more safe, this … project will work very well to be an anchor for the neighborhood, in a neighborhood that needs that kind of anchor.”

The city will consolidate five deteriorating public safety buildings into one, at a price of $19 million. The cost to replace the buildings separately would top $30 million, the mayor said.

Workers are scheduled to begin demolishing the old Catholic church and school within weeks.

The city opened the former church to visitors at yesterday’s ceremony. Most of the pews and religious artifacts had been removed.

The Diocese of Fall River closed St. Anne’s in 2004 and combined the parish with St. James’ Church on County Street, which is now called Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish at St. James Church. It has been vacant since.

Among the city services that will move to the new facility are fire stations 6 and 11. Station 6, located at 151 Purchase St., dates to 1882; and Station 11 at 754 Brock Avenue to 1907 — “both terrific buildings, but both past their prime,” Mitchell said.

New Bedford has not built a new fire station since the 1950s.

Outgoing Fire Chief Michael Gomes said he advocated for updates at the new building that would put firefighters’ safety at the forefront — things like separating fire-contaminated materials from personnel space.

Of the city’s seven fire stations, four are so old they were designed for fire apparatus drawn by horses, he said.

Mitchell said the plan for a combined public safety center stems from a 2015 study the city commissioned a few years ago from FACETS Consulting, which recommended consolidating the two South End fire stations.

The new facility will allow first responders quick access to numerous points in the southern part of the city, and residents will take comfort in having a police presence in the neighborhood, he said.

New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro was not able to attend the ceremony, but Deputy Chief Paul Oliveira delivered thanks on behalf of the departments. He said the existing South End substation is inadequate.

“This is a blessing for our officers, and we appreciate all the effort and time that’s gone into it,” he said.

The facility will hold six municipal functions: fire, police, emergency medical services, emergency management, fire prevention and animal control.

It is projected to open in the first half of 2021.

In addition to police and fire stations, the new structure will replace the former Fire Station 3, which now houses animal control and the Emergency Management Office, as well as 1204 Purchase Street, which houses the Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Division.

“This is going to be first-rate — because that’s what New Bedford deserves,” Mitchell said.

Original story here

Zeiterion one step closer to getting 99-year lease

3 offshore wind bids released

NEW BEDFORD — We have three bidders for Round 2 of offshore wind.

The bid evaluation team for Massachusetts’ second offshore wind farm released bids Thursday from three familiar names: Bay State Wind, Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind.

As expected, their prices and certain other particulars have been redacted.

In New Bedford, which has sought to position itself as a hub for offshore wind, Mayor Jon Mitchell is eager to see the bidders commit to providing economic benefits for the region.

“It will be critically important that the evaluation team carefully weighs the economic development proposals in each of the bids and what they might mean to investment and job creation in New Bedford,” he told The Standard-Times in an interview.

The city is home to the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, which will be a staging point for construction of Vineyard Wind 1, the wind farm that won a contract last year. Federal permits for that project are still pending, and the timeline has stretched beyond what Vineyard Wind anticipated.

This is the second solicitation under the state’s 2016 energy law, which requires electric companies to buy 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2027.

The request for proposals required each bidder to submit a bid for a 400-megawatt wind farm. They could also submit projects between 200 and 800 megawatts.

According to their bids or previous public statements, their bids are:

• Bay State Wind – 400 mw and 800 mw

• Mayflower Wind – 408 mw and three proposals at 804 mw each

• Vineyard Wind – 400 mw and 800 mw, with two options for the latter.

Mayflower Wind has said its three 800-megwatt proposals are customized to highlight different goals: Low-Price Energy, Infrastructure and Innovation, and Massachusetts Manufacturing.

Of the bidders, Mayflower is the only one that did not bid last year. Its wind farm would be located about 20 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, south of Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind.

Last year, the evaluators surprised many observers by awarding a full 800-megawatt contract to Vineyard Wind, rather than splitting the business between two companies at 400 megawatts each.

Vineyard Wind has signed a lease to use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal to stage construction of turbines. Last summer, the company said it would likely add Brayton Point as another staging location.

Three electricity distribution companies — Eversource, National Grid and Unitil — and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources comprise the evaluation team.

Original story here