Dredging will open 40 harbor sites, including Revere Copper, to new opportunities

They’re going to build boats at the old Revere Copper. To do it, son-and-father team Michael and Charlie Quinn need the harbor dredged in front of the iconic former metalworks.

Four feet of water is far from enough.

Their company, Shoreline Resources, is one of dozens in New Bedford and Fairhaven poised to benefit from a massive, nearly harbor-wide dredging plan, set to take place over the next two years.

The dredging will remove sediment along public and private wharves on both sides of New Bedford Harbor, deepen channels to improve access to marinas, and create areas newly usable for mooring fields.

Edward Anthes-Washburn, New Bedford port director, said the hulls of fishing vessels are getting deeper, requiring more draft.

“Allowing … the entire port to react to that and be able to dredge down, it really sets us up for decades of success,” he said.

The city and state are cooperating on a dredging plan whose main goal is economic development. But because the dredging will also remove contaminated sediment, the city was able to get the work permitted through the federal Superfund process already underway.

“It’s like a win-win,” said Timothy Cox, Fairhaven harbormaster.

Right now, shallow waters mean it’s not unusual for Cox’s staff to aid vessels that have run aground in areas north of Pope’s Island.

“A lot of the boats at Slocum Cove at moon tides can’t leave the marina or get to the marina,” he said.

Washburn said the commitment to dredge has already spurred investment, including the recent purchase of the old Fairhaven Hardware by Fairhaven Shipyard.

As many sites in Fairhaven are scheduled for dredging as in New Bedford, including 14 residential properties, according to Cox.

Fifteen Fairhaven businesses have agreed to participate as well, according to Paul Foley, the town’s director of planning and economic development.

Washburn said that as part of the State Enhanced Remedy, which is work done in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the harbor, the state is funding 80% of the navigational dredging in front of commercial properties.

The overall cost is about $100 a yard.

The 80% represents the portion of the cost attributed to the fact that sediment is contaminated and needs to be buried in a confined aquatic disposal cell, or CAD cell.

Businesses will pay 20% — which is roughly the equivalent of what they would have paid for dredging if the harbor were clean, Washburn said.

Residential owners will not get the subsidy, but because the work is tacked onto a larger project, they will pay about one-sixth of what they would have otherwise paid, he said.

Foley said a cleaner harbor will improve public perception of the harbor, and deeper water could allow for 100 or more additional moorings.

At State Pier on the New Bedford side, dredging will help support the shipping of clementines and other produce. And a variety of businesses, such as Crystal Ice, will be able to provide services to larger vessels, Washburn said.

The dredging is expected to go down five feet, and most of the contamination is in the first three feet. The material going into the CAD cell is less contaminated than the area around it, according to Washburn.

The navigational dredging project will have its own CAD cell, south and east of an existing CAD cell created by the EPA. It will be capped with three feet of clean material.

Building the cell should take nine months to a year, and the dredging should take another year, Washburn said.

He said the waterfront is “incredibly vibrant,” diverse, and job-rich.

“We only have about 600 acres, and there are 6,800 jobs that are located in the New Bedford and Fairhaven waterfronts. So we’re doing pretty good in terms of the marine industrial activities that’s happening,” he said.

The harbor is growing as a fishing port at a time when many fishing ports are disappearing, in large part because of the diversity of what New Bedford Harbor offers, he said.

As new uses emerge, such as offshore wind, the port wants to create infrastructure to support them while continuing to grow as a fishing port and supporting the fishing industry, he said.

In all, 40 different sites will be dredged for navigation as part of the project.

Maps of the work will be on view at a public meeting Aug. 13 at 2 p.m. at Fairhaven Town Hall. The project is also scheduled for discussion the following week at the Fairhaven selectmen’s meeting, Washburn said.

New Bedford cited as a leader among clean energy communities

Local leaders gathered last week to celebrate New Bedford’s inclusion in a new Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center report on innovative clean energy programs at the municipal level.

“The best ideas for clean energy often start at the local level,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for the policy center, in a press release. “If we want to have cleaner air, healthier communities, and a safer future for our children, we need to move rapidly toward 100% renewable energy from sources like the sun and the wind. New Bedford is showing how to make it happen.”

The report, Renewable Communities, features New Bedford alongside 21 other Massachusetts cities and towns that are leading the way to 100% renewable energy, according the policy center.

The report discusses renewable electricity, energy efficiency, clean transportation and heating, and energy storage programs, including New Bedford’s successful efforts to add electric vehicles to the municipal fleet.

“As a coastal city and the center of the commercial fishing industry on the East Coast, New Bedford has a lot at stake when it comes to climate change and sea-level rise,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell in the press statement. “We have led by example on these issues, so we appreciate the recognition of our efforts to embrace renewable energy. We have installed more than 16 megawatts of land-based solar and wind projects, positioned ourselves to be a leader in offshore wind energy, and pushed hard to convert our municipal fleet to electric vehicles.”

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center shared a preview of the report, including a profile of New Bedford’s clean energy efforts. The full version of the report will be released on Friday, Aug. 2.

New Bedford has now converted more than 25% of its municipal passenger vehicles to electric vehicles. The city is believed to have a higher percentage of electric vehicles in its municipal passenger fleet than any other community in Massachusetts, according to the press statement from the policy center.

The city has also installed 16 megawatts of solar and wind generation, saving taxpayers approximately $1 million per year in avoided energy costs, the statement said.

The Environmental Massachusetts Research and Policy Center report comes as legislators consider a statewide commitment to 100% renewable energy.

The 100% Renewable Energy Act (H.2836, S.1958) would transition Massachusetts to 100% renewable electricity by 2035, and phase out the use of fossil fuels for heating and transportation by 2045. The Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy held a hearing on the bill last week.

So far, 113 legislators have endorsed the 100% Renewable Energy Act.

“I had the valuable opportunity to work on the GreenWorks legislation that passed the House this past Wednesday and the theme that kept coming up was that there needs to be an equal focus placed on both adaptation and mitigation,” said Rep. Antonio Cabral, D-New Bedford, in the press release. “As a state, we must collectively lower emissions and consume less energy. At the city-level, New Bedford has made significant progress on this mitigation front . . . We all have a role to play in the fight against climate change – we just need to use the tools available to us.”

“At the SouthCoast Chamber, we are happy to see clean energy become more accessible for families and businesses,” said Rick Kidder, President and CEO of the SouthCoast Chamber of Commerce. “Achieving 100% renewable energy for Massachusetts would keep more dollars within our local economy and presents a great opportunity for job growth.”

Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center is visiting five other communities across Massachusetts to share the findings of the report.

“Communities like New Bedford are leading the way on clean energy,” said Hellerstein. “We hope to see state leaders follow their example.”

Gov. Baker approves FY20 budget and New Bedford scores big time

Posted Jul 31, 2019 at 12:54 PM

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker signed the FY20 budget Wednesday that includes significant funding for New Bedford, according to a press release from Senator Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford.)

Under this budget plan, New Bedford will receive $159,830,964 in Chapter 70 education funding. This is an increase of $14.5 million over last fiscal year and is $2.8 million more than what the House proposed in April. Montigny worked with Senate Ways and Means Chairman Michael Rodrigues to ensure New Bedford would receive the highest funding possible.

Montigny also said that Governor Baker approved close to $1.2 million he helped secured in the FY20 budget for New Bedford to provide funding to increase local children’s access to arts, culture, and recreation; youth violence prevention; peer support and mental health services for police; workforce training; and opioid treatment programs.

“New Bedford’s economic resurgence and cultural renaissance has opened up tremendous resources and opportunities to experience the city’s unique plethora of arts, culture, and history,” Montigny said. “Our mission in this year’s budget is very simple: provide New Bedford kids with access to local arts, culture, and recreation regardless of socio-economic status. I cannot thank our local partners enough and look forward to another successful year.”

Youth development and access to arts, culture, and recreation is a major priority in Montigny’s allocations, continuing his years of legislative work to lead the local arts and cultural renaissance. The Senator renewed his Children’s Equality and Empowerment Fund to provide $500,000 in grants to local organizations seeking to provide innovative access to arts, culture, and recreation for area youth. He also allocated $80,000 to Dennison Memorial Community Center to provide programs for financially disadvantaged youth in New Bedford. Montigny also wrote a provision to ensure the South Coast Youth Court continues to operate through a $100,000 earmark. Montigny also delivered funding to the New Bedford Girl’s STEAM Design Academy, working alongside Representative Chris Hendricks (D-New Bedford).

Public health and safety priorities also ranked high in this year’s agenda. Montigny delivered $175,000 to the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center so primary care services can provide medication treatment for opioid use disorders. Montigny also ensured the Women’s Center can continue to expand access to its safe dates and domestic violence workshops at local schools. Finally, the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (SEMLEC) will receive $100,000 to continue to provide area law enforcement officers with much-needed peer support, mental health counseling, and residential treatment services following traumatic incidents.

George Kirby Jr. Paint Co.: The color that crosses New Bedford centuries

There aren’t many businesses that can say they have been family-owned and operated for over 150 years. George Kirby Jr. Paint Company, at 163 Mount Vernon St. — just steps from Shawmut Avenue — can proudly proclaim that fact, however.

Awnings over the office windows declare, “Since 1846.” It’s central to their business. The company rose to prominence on the strength of its signature product — marine paint — and its reputation still rests on that glorious liquid to this day.

The George Kirby Jr. Paint Co. was one of the first manufacturers of copper bottom paint. Back in the 19th century, it was a revolutionary product designed to eliminate the buildup of barnacles and other sea life that accumulate on the bottoms of boats. Kirby made the paint with premium ingredients in small, handmade batches — and continues to do so in the 21st century right in this West End neighborhood.

“We’re the smallest paint manufacturing company in the United States,” said George A. Kirby IV, the latest member of the Kirby family to own the company. The statement is spoken with pride as he recognizes the unique heritage he now oversees.

George the IV worked with both his grandfather and father before taking a few years off to join the United States Air Force and then returning to the company. It was time well spent; he met his wife, Shari Kirby, while on duty.

Today, George, Shari and cousin Bill Kirby are the three employees of the George Kirby Jr. Paint Co.

George took over the company from his dad in 2013 and knew just what to change, what to leave alone, and what defines Kirby Paint the most.

First and foremost, is the reputation of its products. While they produce all manner of marine paint, it’s their resilient colors applied to wooden hulls upon which their reputation rests.

That is a wonderful tradition to carry on but it can hurt the bottom line.

Frequently at boat shows, where he is always warmly welcomed, Kirby says he hears from previous customers that their purchase has been so effective that most “don’t need paint!”

“I’m putting myself out of business!,” he said with a laugh.

So, this year they’ll move beyond their usual boat shows in Mystic, Connecticut and Portland, Maine, and venture as far afield as Florida to keep making the personal connection the Kirby brand relies upon.

And make no mistake, Kirby is well-branded. In fact, George knew when he took over the company that not only the product, but everything the brand embodied in its nostalgic logo was important to maintain.

That logo is not only a link to the past, but a reminder of the company’s unique position in the marine paint world.

Within it is a representation of the medal awarded to Kirby at the 1867 World’s Fair in Paris for its mixture of Prussian Blue.

Just as it was then, the paint is made in batches, and one batch makes 60 gallons.

In 2013, Shari Kirby put her father, Paul Meyer to work on the building creating some stunning hand-painted signs which adorn the building on Mt. Vernon Street featuring the logo. The result is amazing and lends commercial art vitality to the street. It may be why the street artist Tom Bob decided to add an exclamation point with one of his signature creations — a gas meter turned into a pink flamingo — after Meyer handled the signage.

Though the George Kirby Jr. Paint Co. looks as if it’s been in its red brick building since the Victorian age, that isn’t so. It actually began life by the waterfront — naturally — on Wall Street in New Bedford before falling victim to the construction of Route 18 in the city. It’s been in its current location since 1969.

A move like that may have devastated another business but not Kirby. It actually had already survived a near-death experience at its original location way back in the 1880s.

Among the memorabilia George Kirby IV stores on-site in his office is a printed notice from 1887 entitled “BURNT OUT!” It continues, “Our factory was totally destroyed by fire on the night of April 1st, and all the machinery ruined, engine and boiler twisted into and almost unrecognizable mass, every pound of stock destroyed, in fact a more than total loss.”

Remarkably, the letter goes on to state that despite this calaminity, orders would resume being filled by…April 15!

Thankfully, there have been no fires at its current location. However, a neighboring building did succumb to flames a few years back. While many believed the fire also took the Kirby building, rest assured the business escaped conflagration and the store is open six days a week to the public (closed on Sundays).

In it, you’ll find George, Shari, Bill and recent arrival Daisy, Kirby’s canine mascot, continuing to embellish the success and legend of this storied business in New Bedford.

They’ve done so not only by following in the footsteps of their forebears, but by embracing the internet as a sales tool. Today, most Kirby Paint is shipped from kirbypaint.com to places all over the country and Canada, too. In 2013, Shari even replaced the bound ledgers used for bookkeeping with…Quickbooks!

Despite some nods to modernity, they don’t for a minute fail to respect the legacy of the George Kirby Jr. Paint Company they are carrying on, though.

George joked that maintaining that integrity is crucial because, “My name’s on the can so my can’s on the line!”

Yet he also writes a handwritten note to every customer requesting a color swatch through kirbypaint.com — a human touch in a digital age that reaches across centuries into tomorrow…

And, there’s a George Kirby V waiting in the wings, too.

Original post here.

St. Luke’s Hospital starts construction on new $14M intensive care unit

Posted Jul 17, 2019 at 7:37 PM

The state-of-the-art unit also aligns with Southcoast’s pursuit of establishing a Level II trauma center at St. Luke’s Hospital in 2020, Southcoast Health said in a news release Wednesday night.

“Our investment in advanced intensive care will provide our patients with greater access to clinical excellence, close to home,” said Keith Hovan, president and CEO of Southcoast Health, in a statement. “The residents of southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island deserve the very best healthcare. We are excited to be investing in this new Intensive Care Unit as part of our ongoing commitment to delivering exceptional care and service to our patients and communities.”

Mayor Jon Mitchell, also in a statement, praised Southcoast Health “for continuing to invest in this community and delivering the highest quality care to the people of New Bedford and beyond.”

Mitchell, who toured the site of the new unit Wednesday, said “Needing the services of critical care can be an emotional and trying experience for patients and families. This new unit will have the space, technology and skilled care team that will make all the difference during someone’s time of need.”

The new 16,000-square-foot-unit — the current unit is 7,300 square feet — is being constructed on the fourth floor of St. Luke’s. Equipped with the latest technology, it will feature 16 spacious, 440-square-foot rooms that “will accommodate medical equipment and enable family and staff to be comfortably at the patient’s bedside,” the news release said.

A conference room will be dedicated for physician meetings with families and a lounge area, with refreshments, TV and showers, will be available to families staying long hours, officials said.

“I am excited about the opportunity for our nurses, physicians and staff to work within a new state-of-the-art unit that is designed to provide an optimal experience for patients, families and providers,” said Maria Tassoni, RN, manager of the intensive care unit, in a statement.

Commending staff for their input and suggestions for the new unit, Tassoni, a Southcoast employee for 31 years, went on to say that “When a great care team has a great facility, the patients and community benefit.”

Southcoast Health officials said the new unit will also play an integral role in the hospital’s efforts to achieve designation as a Level II trauma center, meaning that St. Luke’s would be able to treat more serious injuries for people in the community. Currently, patients in need of such care are often sent to Rhode Island or Boston hospitals.

Southcoast Health employs 2,453 people at its New Bedford locations, and employs 1,581 city residents who work at Southcoast, the release said.

“As the region’s only not-for-profit health system, we know the importance of continually investing in our system to ensure all the residents of this region have access to the highest possible quality of care,” said Hovan in the release. “And as the region’s largest employer, we want to provide our staff with the best facilities and equipment to treat and serve our patients, their families, and the larger community.”

Original post here.

WGBH Open Studio with Jared Bowen: DATMA Puts Wind On Display In New Bedford

This week wind, science, technology art and culture are on full view as Design Art Technology Massachusetts, (DATMA) and their Summer Winds 2019 event begins.

Watch the 5 minute video below!

https://www.wgbh.org/arts/2019/07/17/open-studio-with-jared-bowen-datma-puts-wind-on-display-in-new-bedford

 

 

After nearly 30 years, a South Coast Rail groundbreaking

Tuesday marked the highly celebrated beginning of the South Coast Rail project’s southern expansion, bringing MBTA Commuter Rail Service from Boston south to the cities of Fall River and New Bedford.

The occasion was not the first groundbreaking for the project, which has been gestating in Massachusetts politics for roughly 30 years.

That point was not lost on MassDOT CEO Stephanie Pollack, who took a moment Tuesday to recall a 2015 conversation she had with Fall River state Sen. Michael Rodrigues.

At the time, Rodrigues warned Pollack of the shovels he had collected over the years from past South Coast Rail groundbreakings and said he didn’t want another one until construction was already underway.

“We’re here today because there is actual construction work underway,” Pollack said to an applauding audience of local and state officials.

Pollack and Rodrigues were joined by the likes of Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and many of the region’s state representatives for Tuesday’s ceremony. A total of 45 politicians and government officials plunged gleaming shovels into the symbolic mound of dirt positioned beside a set of Freetown train tracks at the ceremony.

The project has undergone a series of fits and starts since Gov. William Weld first asked the state Legislature approve funding for preliminary studies. A series of obstacles — including loss of funding and environmental impact concerns — have plagued the project since it began, but many of Tuesday’s attendees were confident that the proverbial trains would finally be pulling out of the station.

When asked what made him so confident that the project would be completed by its proposed 2023 end date, Baker said the project has two things going for it that it didn’t previously have: a completed construction plan and a designated funding source.

“Those are really the two big things it didn’t have before. It has a real construction and design plan and the second thing is a real capital plan. And that basically guarantees that it’s going to happen,” said Baker, explaining that $1 billion in funding has already been allocated in the state’s 5-year capital plan.

“We’ve already got contracts on this. People are doing work on it. We’ve already acquired property, we’ve got all the permits,” said Baker. “This is literally a groundbreaking held after the project had begun.”

Work already underway represents Phase I of the South Coast Rail project. Thus far, the project has seen culvert installation along the train’s proposed route being done in East Freetown, as well as track upgrades and bridge renovation.

The next four years of the project will see the commuter rail’s Middleboro Line being extended to New Bedford and Fall River, which will require reconstructing 17.3 miles of the existing New Bedford main line track and 11.7 miles of the Fall River secondary track.

Upgrades will also have to be done to 7.1 miles of the Middleboro secondary track between Pilgrim and Cotley Junctions. Two new layover facilities will also have to be constructed, as well as six new train stations. Representatives of the greater Fall River and New Bedford area were similarly optimistic that Tuesday about the project’s future.

Rodrigues, whose first South Coast Rail groundbreaking was over 20 years ago, praised the state’s most recent efforts and highlighted the potential impact commuter rail service will have on the region. “The communities of the SouthCoast deserve to be economically competitive with the rest of the region, and South Coast Rail is a large piece of that,” he said. “I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration for finally making this long-promised project a reality.”

Original post here.

Wicked Cool Grant Applications available for Creative Placemaking

City of New Bedford Official Website

Beginning this week, anyone with an idea to make a public place in New Bedford ‘wicked cool’ can apply to the city’s Wicked Cool Places (WCP) grant to help turn their vision into reality.

Application here.

WCP is the City of New Bedford’s grant program for creative placemaking. It is funded by the city of New Bedford’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund, with additional funding by Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment.

WCP seeks to enhance community development, arts entrepreneurship, and ongoing investment in the rich arts and culture of the city. New Bedford artists, cultural organizations and talented citizens are encouraged to apply for a WCP grant through August 16.

Applications can be found at NewBedfordCreative.org, the just-launched website for all things #NBcreative. For more information, email Margo Saulnier, New Bedford’s Creative Strategist, at artsnewbedford@gmail.com.

“The goal of Wicked Cool Places is to unite property and business owners with artistic and cultural groups, using arts as a tool to help transform New Bedford’s overlooked or undervalued places,” said Saulnier.
Wicked Cool Places began as a pilot program in April 2018 when it distributed $5,000 in grants as a test run to 3rd EyE Unlimited, SUPERFLAT NB, the New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks!, and Seaport Art Walk. This leveraged over $12,000.

In December 2018, the pilot program scaled up to distribute $50,000 in placemaking grants to 12 different artists or groups, investing in projects throughout the City of New Bedford, which leveraged an additional $180,000. A few of those projects include Tracy Barbosa’s Guatemalan Kite Festival Workshops, Brook Baptiste’s Reggae on West Beach, New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center’s Big Boat, Little Boat celebration of fishing culture, Southcoast Lessons’ Open Season Series, and Community Economic Development Center’s Vacant Storefront Gallery.

The official first round of Wicked Cool Places will invest up to $80,000 in funds for city-wide placemaking projects beginning this Fall.
The deadline to submit an application is August 16, 2019. Grants will be announced in mid-October 2019. Once a project is approved, the applicant will receive a commitment letter from the New Bedford Economic Development Council. Grants will be distributed as a reimbursement in full once final approval from that office is granted.

Any project or program within the City of New Bedford is eligible. Individuals and organizations are both eligible. However, Wicked Cool Places cannot accept applications for work that has already been completed, and work for grant-funded tasks cannot begin until successful applicants are provided with written approval.

All applications will be evaluated by the selection committee of the New Bedford Creative Consortium and scored on the impact of the project based on these criteria: quality, originality and creativity, community benefit and partnership, planning and budget.
So, for those who have a wicked cool idea ready to unleash on the world in New Bedford, visit Wicked Cool Places at NewBedfordCreative.org and begin the journey.

About: Wicked Cool Places (WCP) is the city of New Bedford’s grant program for creative placemaking, uniting willing property/business owners, artistic/cultural groups, design/preservation specialists, and business/development experts to help transform New Bedford’s overlooked or undervalued places. Wicked Cool Places enhance community development, arts entrepreneurship, and ongoing investment in the rich arts and culture of the city, and is funded by the city of New Bedford’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund, with additional funding by Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment.

New Bedford Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund was proposed by Mayor Jon Mitchell in the spring of 2016 and approved by the City Council in June 2016, and consists of revenue generated from the city’s lodging tax, capped at a total of $100,000. Creation of the fund also required the passage of a home rule petition by the state legislature and the petition’s passage, led by state Senator Mark Montigny and signed into law by Governor Baker in January 2017. The purpose of the fund is to create a dedicated revenue stream to provide for additional planning, programmatic, and administrative capacity to allow the City of New Bedford to take full advantage of its cultural and tourism assets, and to catalyze and manage the growth of the cultural and tourism sectors in the years ahead. The New Bedford Economic Development

Council (NBEDC) has a three-year agreement to manage the fund for the City. This work is lead by the NBEDC’s Creative Strategist. Additional funding is provided by Bristol County Savings Bank, Mass Cultural Council, and MassDevelopment.

New Bedford Creative Consortium New Bedford Creative Consortium is the leadership group whose purpose is overseeing the execution of the citywide strategic Arts and Culture Plan entitled New Bedford Creative: our art, our culture, our future. The Arts and Culture Plan is a huge step forward in building a thriving creative ecosystem in our city, and these are the people dedicated to implementing it. This volunteer group is facilitated by the Creative Strategist, meets quarterly, holds 1-3 year terms, and is divided into three task forces: Public Art and Facilities; Placemaking and Community; and Fundraising and Distribution.

Original post here.

Montigny Secures over $114K to Local employer for Training

1420 WBSM New Bedford’s News & Talk Station

A New Bedford-based employer will receive over $114,000 to provide training to over 100 workers and establish new positions by 2021.

Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) announced Wednesday that Ahead USA, of New Bedford, will receive over $114,000 in workforce training funds from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.  The grant totaling $114,800 will provide training to approximately 121 workers and help create a number of new positions by 2021.

“These grants provide the funding necessary for invaluable training of our local workforce.  Such investments in our community allow New Bedford companies to flourish and remain competitive in the marketplace while creating new employment opportunities,” said Montigny.

AHEAD is a leading supplier of headwear to the USGA, PGA of America, Ryder Cup, and numerous PGA Tour events in addition to more than 5,000 green grass and resort shops throughout the world.  AHEAD will use the grant to educate and train 112 of its employees.

In 1998 the legislature created the Workforce Training Fund to provide resources to businesses and job creators in Massachusetts to educate and train current and newly hired employees.  The resources provided through the legislature boost economic competitiveness and generate job opportunities for residents.   To date, thousands of workers and hundreds of business in the Commonwealth have benefitted from the Workforce Training Fund.

Original post here:

$15M-plus building slated for Union Street in downtown New Bedford

Downtown is well on its way to getting a noticeable addition.

A proposal to build a five-story, $15 million to $17 million mixed commercial and residential building at the corner of Union and North Second Streets has received the necessary permits from the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Historical Commission, according to City Planner Tabitha Harkin.

“It’s a project we support because it adds residential density to the downtown, will add some retail space on the ground floor, and it has an architecturally appealing design,” said Mayor Jon Mitchell. “It remains to be seen whether the developer can finance the project, but it’s certainly one that we support because it fits with what we’re trying to do along the Union Street corner.”

Constructing the proposed 42,650-square-foot building would require the demolition of several single-story buildings currently located at the site on the corner of Union and North Second streets. The demolition permit still needs to be approved, said Harkin.

“All the one-story buildings on the property are just old retail buildings; they have no historical significance to them and they are in very poor condition,” said Michael Galasso, executive director of the New Bedford Development Corporation and the project’s developer.

The five-story building constructed in their place would have 42 residential rental units with a cafe/restaurant and coworking space on the ground floor, according to Galasso.

The residential units will include microunits, studios, and one- and two-bedroom apartments, said Galasso, and five of them will be completely handicap-accessible.

“This project is intended to provide housing for the downtown workforce, that is our main market,” explained Galasso, “We see that as a growing market.”

One of the reasons the market is growing, said Galasso, is because more office space is being leased downtown and the offshore wind industry will be bringing in new workers.

The rates for rent have not yet been decided, but Galasso said a portion of the building is going to be affordable housing and the rest will be market-rate.

When reached for comment about the project in her ward, Councilor Dana Rebeiro said, “I’m interested to see if the affordable housing is forever or just for the first three years and what they consider ‘affordable.’”

In addition to the affordability of the housing, Galasso has to consider how the building will fit in with the historic nature of the city’s downtown.

Galasso said the brick facade, the size of the windows, the scale of the building, and material they plan to use are all in keeping with the downtown aesthetic.

“We wanted a building that had some modern feel to it, but was done in a very historic way,” he said.

117 Union Historic Comm Presentation by Standard-Times on Scribd

The modern aspects of the building will include a contemporary design of the interior with a community kitchen and patio overlooking the harbor on the fifth floor, said Galasso, and microunits that are fully furnished with high-end amenities (including kitchenettes).

The design is also meant to encourage people walking by the building to come inside.

“It’s very important that the first floor is very transparent so people that are walking by would get excited and want to come in whether it’s the lobby area or restaurant,” Galasso said.

He referenced the Seaport District in Boston as inspiration for the design, that also includes outdoor seating for its cafe.

Another proposed modern aspect of the building is resident access to a shared electric vehicle and a bike-sharing program, said Galasso.

The current plan only includes the construction of one handicapped parking space, even though a residential building this size would normally require a total of 106 parking spaces.

The proposal received a special grant for reduction in parking, according to Harkin, because “there’s ample parking downtown” with the parking garages.

Rebeiro said she is also concerned about the effect of adding people in what she described as an already dense area, but she did say she likes the car and bike sharing ideas.

“I think it takes away from the problem of too many cars parking downtown,” said Rebeiro.

Mitchell said he doesn’t think parking will be a problem for residents, “The city in the weeks ahead will announce a new parking study that will really pave the way for better parking management in the long run, that will emphasize the use of the garages.”

Going forward the developer has to close the purchase of the properties on Union and North Second streets, which he said he expects to do by the end of this week, and look for financing for the project.

Galasso said the project includes redeveloping the Moby Dick building next door into 8 studio apartments and a restaurant. He still needs to go through the permitting process for that part of the plan.

Once the project is financed through a “combination of conventional financing using some tax credits and funds from the city and from the state,” which Galasso said will take six months, construction on the new building will begin.

Galasso said they’re aiming to complete construction by the end of 2020/early 2021.

“This is potentially a real catalyst for downtown to create millennial focused-housing… and activate a street corner that has been inactive for a long time,” said Harkin.

“We really wanted to set the mark high for future development in downtown and I think we’ve really achieved that,” he said.

Follow Kiernan Dunlop on Twitter @KiernanD_SCT

Original story here.