AHEAD planning $11 million expansion at Business Park in Dartmouth

By Mike Lawrence

June 27. 2016 9:09PM

DARTMOUTH — Hat and apparel company AHEAD is hoping to build an $11 million expansion onto its New Bedford Business Park location, potentially adding about 30 jobs and nearly 80,000 square feet, CEO Anne Broholm told the Dartmouth Select Board on Monday night.

“We’ve outgrown our current footprint,” Broholm told the board, showing sketches for the proposed expansion, on the Dartmouth side of the Business Park.

Broholm said the company bought adjacent land from Crapo Hill Landfill this spring, for $430,000, and has an estimated building cost of $9 million, with about $1.4 million in planned spending on new equipment.

Broholm said AHEAD employs 265 people. The company adds designs to headwear and produces apparel and accessories, primarily for the golf industry.

AHEAD was founded 21 years ago in a Mattapoisett garage, she said, has been in Dartmouth since 1999 and was bought by New Wave in 2011.

Broholm cited that long local history when asking the Select Board to support a tax-increment financing, or TIF, plan, that she said would save AHEAD about $200,000 while bringing the town more than $500,000 in new tax revenue over the course of the expansion project.

Select Board members gave a lukewarm response to the TIF request.

Member Shawn D. McDonald said Dartmouth hasn’t granted a TIF since 2007, despite several large-scale projects in the town in recent years.

“I’ve never believed in TIFs,” added Select Board Vice Chairman Frank S. Gracie. “We’ve established a precedent of what we do in this town and what we don’t do in this town.”

Robert Michaud, chairman of the town’s Board of Assessors, said Dartmouth already is, “just about the lowest-burdened community in Massachusetts, as far as commercial taxes.”

Specific tax rates for the AHEAD property could not be confirmed Monday night. Fiscal year 2016 rates for commercial properties in Dartmouth, for town and fire services, range from $15.33 to $16.54 per $1,000 of valuation, depending on the district, according to town assessor’s data.

New Bedford’s commercial tax rate for fiscal 2016 is $35.83 per $1,000 of valuation. That difference was not lost on Select Board members, who discussed AHEAD’s project location on the Dartmouth side of the Business Park, rather than in adjacent New Bedford.

“If these folks were 100 feet down the road, their taxes would be more than double,” Gracie said.

Select Board member John Haran said he supported the expansion and the proposed TIF, citing the potential for full tax revenue from new equipment and the incremental tax gains that would add to AHEAD’s existing taxes.

The board will consider the proposal further at its next meeting, July 25.

Broholm said the expansion would “all but guarantee continued operations in Dartmouth” for AHEAD. She quickly clarified that the statement was not an ultimatum, and did not mean AHEAD would relocate without the TIF.

She said the company hoped to strengthen its local roots with the project.

“It really puts a real firm stake in the ground, here in our hometown of Dartmouth,” Broholm said.

Follow Mike Lawrence on Twitter @MikeLawrenceSCT

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Puerto Rican bakery opens in New Bedford’s North End

By Mike Lawrence

June 10. 2016 5:31PM

NEW BEDFORD — Persistence paid off Friday in the North End, as Lorenzo Vazquez and several family members and friends opened their new Puerto Rican bakery — a dream long in the making — on Acushnet Avenue.

“Dream, and keep dreaming, and don’t wake up until your dreams come true,” Vazquez said to a small crowd, standing beneath the Lorenzo’s Bakery sign moments after receiving an honorary citation from city officials, in recognition of the opening.

Lorenzo’s Bakery bills itself as a panaderia y reposteria — Spanish for “bakery and cake shop” — that’s “Home of Original Puerto Rican Bread,” according to its sign at Acushnet and Phillips Avenue, across Acushnet from Café Mimo.

An array of pastries, desserts, donuts, breads and more filled the bakery’s display cases Friday morning. Menus also listed sandwiches, fried foods, flavored ices, espresso and other items, for breakfast, lunch and in between.

Behind the counter, co-owner Rafael Sanchez said interior renovations took about a year at the corner location, at 1533 Acushnet. The renovations followed about two years of site selection and planning, he said.

“It’s been a lot of work,” said Sanchez, who was born in Cambridge but grew up in Cidra, Puerto Rico, before moving to New Bedford in 1995.

“Cidra, PR,” is painted decoratively on a column in the café area, and “Bayamon” — a city on the island’s north coast — is on another. Maps of Puerto Rico adorn the ceiling and an upper wall.

Lorenzo’s opened with support from the New Bedford Economic Development Council (EDC), which helped Vazquez secure a $50,000 microloan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Nadine Boone, the administration’s director of lender relations in Massachusetts, attended Friday’s opening, which was held on the sidewalk under a clear blue sky.

“We are here to make dreams like this come true,” Boone said.

Nancy Durant, lending and compliance specialist for the EDC, said the typical repayment period for such a loan is five years, with an interest rate of 6 percent.

Angela Johnston, the EDC’s director of business development, said the loan is part of $350,000 the EDC has received from the Small Business Administration, to boost local efforts such as Lorenzo’s.

Amid all the good news Friday morning, two of the happiest people at the opening were Joseph and Angelina Monteiro, who have owned the building since about 1995.

Angelina said the bakery’s site has been vacant that entire time. She and Joseph used it for storage, she said, while paying $2,000 a month for the mortgage with rents from other homes they own in the area. She declined to say what Vazquez would pay for rent, but smiled at the long-awaited source of revenue.

Angelina said she turned down a few potential business offers at the corner spot over the years, but chose Vazquez for a simple reason.

“Because he kept calling me and calling me,” Monteiro said, citing his strong work ethic.

Mayor Jon Mitchell said hard work is yielding results in the “resurgence” of the North End Business District, where, for example, Portuguese bakery Chocolate com Pimenta unveiled sparkling renovations in March, a few blocks south.

“The avenue is a place where the American melting pot really comes together,” Mitchell said. “(Lorenzo’s) is going to be very, very successful — they’ve got the right stuff.”

Follow Mike Lawrence on Twitter @MikeLawrenceSCT

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True Bounce’s backboards take urban basketball to next level

By Steve Urbon

June 25. 2016 3:26PM

NEW BEDFORD — Think sporting goods in this city and you think golf balls. But a fledgling company in the North End is making a reputation all its own with a patented basketball backboard that they call True Bounce.

President Wayne Newton and Eric Britto, director of sports development, are the executives behind a product that is quickly being adopted by municipalities in major cities for the dramatic improvement it makes in the game of basketball.

The principle is simple but effective. True Bounce makes their backboards out of acrylic, not glass or metal, and they drill perforations across the face of the equipment.

That allows for up to 28 percent of the energy from a layup to be dispersed through the backboard, slowing down the ball and making rebounds and jump shots much more manageable. Newton and Britto contend that their product will change the game as players once again use the backboard as compared to avoiding it.

Today True Bounce is being embraced by amateur players in major cities; Nike embraced it, too, with a spring advertising campaign that depicted the slogan “Just Do It” and the Nike swoosh with a picture of a True Bounce basketball backboard.

This, the True Bounce team contends, is the kind of player connection with what was regarded as a standardized and unimproved piece of equipment. The hope is that the NCAA and eventually the pros will adopt the patented technology.

True Bounce, with just six employees, works out of a second-floor factory building on Conduit Street near Joseph Abboud. Newton and Britto spoke with The Standard-Times recently; the interview has been edited for clarity and space.

How did Nike come to recognize your product?

Newton: We are the preferred backboard for New York City along with Boston, Atlanta, San Francisco … We’re are a retrofit company as well as a new manufacturer so we have the ability to retrofit and that’s what really gave us our start, our ability to go and save the city a bunch of money without having to rip up pole systems and put in new asphalt new concrete, and allow them to beautify their parks with a minimal amount of money.

So you give the you give the existing system a makeover with the new perforated backboard attached to it?

Newton: That is correct.

How many of these have you done?

Newton: We’re approaching 2,000 right now. Again, we are the preferred backboard for Boston, New York City, Maryland National, Atlanta, Sacramento, San Francisco, and so on and so forth. We’re in all the specifications for New York City.

What is it like teaming up with Nike?

Newton: Well, we’re not technically saying we’re teaming up with Nike. Nike has basically taken our product because of its relationships with players in the urban setting. They have tied the excellence of their product with what we believe is the excellence of our product to the excellence of New York City basketball. And what you are seeing here is not just an outdoor product because they’ve taken it to the indoors as well as outdoors.

So in New York City the rebound being reduced but not eliminated is becoming the new normal?

Newton: That’s correct.

So everybody is getting used to this?

Newton: Let’s not forget that a basketball backboard has never been like a golfer’s golf club or a baseball player’s bat or a football player’s helmet. It has always been a part of the building. So people have never acknowledged that the basketball backboard as a part of their equipment. So this is why it’s been such a challenge for Eric and I to really get this to the industry because they’ve never ever challenged the backboard in a hundred years. So we’ve ve now challenged the backboard in such a position where they don’t know what to do.

Now the backboard is in play?

Newton: Not only is it in play but we’ve actually got players attending city meetings, councils and groups, to get the backboards changed to True Bounce. It was in Brooklyn where they went in there and they had the backboards changed after the project was almost done. They demanded the True Bounce.

And obviously Nike is seeing that because the players know to look for these backboards?

Britto: Nike attracts the best players in the best playgrounds in the best city. Nike sees what the players prefer up there and they write it down and they put it in their slogan for a spring marketing campaign.

Newton: They basically didn’t involve us at all. That’s why we believe they tied the excellence of their name to the excellence of our product to the excellence of street ball in New York City.

Britto: We’re saying that we’ve got worldwide exposure because our product is the best. It’s a unique situation.

What is it like doing business in New Bedford for a company your size? 

Newton: It has been good. We went through some tough times in the recession. It was very difficult at times to tie the financial end of it to the burdens of what they (municipalities) were cutting from spending. But we were savvy enough to get this thing to the point it is today. We’ve been on a steady increase since 2012. We were up at least 20 percent from ’12 to ’13 we increased by 23 percent, from ’13 to ’14 it was 23 percent and last year ’14 to ’15 we increased by 68 percent

Britto: And this is an industry that doesn’t need any more backboards.

You’ve got something that everybody wants as soon as they understand it?

Newton: Yes, yes. The brand that we created is now being demanded.

Britto: We’ve tied the backboard to the player is basically what we’ve done.

Do people realize you are manufacturing this in New Bedford?

Newton: A lot of people haven’t. You’re absolutely right, and I think that’s why this is a big story because something great is being made in New Bedford again besides Titleist and we’re going to be the next one.

Senate bill would boost state’s reliance on renewable energy

Associated Press

Friday, June 24, 2016

BOSTON — Leaders in the Massachusetts Senate have unveiled legislation designed to ramp up the state’s reliance on renewable energy sources, including offshore wind and hydropower.

The plan, detailed Friday, establishes more aggressive energy targets than a similar bill approved by the House this month.

The Senate bill would set a goal for utilities to sign long-term contracts for 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy, compared to 1,200 megawatts in the House bill. It also would set a goal of 1,500 megawatts from other sources of renewable energy, including hydropower, compared to 1,200 megawatts set in the House proposal.

Under the Senate bill, utilities would be encouraged to buy energy storage systems to help stockpile solar and wind energy. The bill would also look at ways to promote energy efficiency in homes.

The bill got mixed reviews from energy producers and environmental groups Friday.

Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association — a trade association representing competitive electric generating companies in New England — said the Senate legislation could lead to “a dramatic increase in electricity prices for Massachusetts businesses and consumers.”

Dolan said that by setting ambitious goals for hydropower and offshore wind, the bill could freeze out other, lower-cost sources of electricity production in the state.

“Proposals like this are a dramatic step backwards,” Dolan said in a statement.

Cathy Buckley, chair of the Massachusetts Sierra Club, hailed the bill, saying it aligns with a recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that sided with environmental groups that sued the state for failing to meet the requirements of a 2008 state law by not setting strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our senators have also listened to their constituents, who are eager to transition quickly to our clean, local, renewable energy future,” Buckley said in a press release.

Democratic leaders in both chambers and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker have called the push for a comprehensive energy bill a top priority of the legislative session that ends July 31.

Massachusetts, which already has some of the highest energy costs in the nation, is facing a number of power challenges including replacing energy that has left or will be leaving the New England energy grid in the coming years. That includes the scheduled 2019 shutdown of the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth.

In April, Baker signed a bill raising caps on the state’s net metering program. Net metering allows homeowners, solar developers and municipal governments to sell excess power they generate back to the electricity grid in exchange for credit.

Baker has also been a vocal supporter of tapping into Canadian hydropower.

The Senate is expected to debate the bill next week.

Original Article Here:

Your View: Wind energy is already an American industry

By Paul Vigeant

June 26. 2016 2:01AM

We tend to think of wind power as something the Europeans do, but the United States has a robust and growing sector that leads the world in land-based wind energy.

More than 50,000 turbines stand along ridge lines, prairies and hilltops across the United States. Installed capacity recently surpassed 70 gigawatts — enough to power more than 19 million typical American homes — and is expected to double in the next five years, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

In fact, the wind energy sector installed more electric generating capacity last year than any other energy source in America. The U.S. Department of Energy says wind is on track to supply 10 percent of the country’s electricity by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and 35 percent by 2050.

While the supply of wind energy goes up, costs to the consumer go down. Today, energy supplied by the wind is as cheap or cheaper per megawatt hour than natural gas. And the cost of wind has shown a steady decline — 66 percent from 2009 to 2014, while volatile natural gas prices have brought consumers painful price spikes.

Europe has indeed demonstrated how offshore wind can supply clean, affordable and plentiful energy, but the United States has been building technology and know-how that can help launch this new sector on this side of the Atlantic.

A typical wind turbine has more than 8,000 components, and those pieces are manufactured in 500 plants in 43 U.S. states, AWEA reports. Manufacturing facilities in this country have the capability of producing about 10,200 megawatts of turbine nacelles, more than 10,000 blades, and more than 3,100 towers annually. Nearly 90 percent of the wind power capacity installed in the United States during 2015 used a turbine manufacturer with at least one United States production site.

As annual wind project installations grow — AWEA reports an average growth of 13 percent a year over the past five years — businesses will find more and more reasons to join the wind energy supply chain. Already, the sector is having an important economic effect.

We look overseas for examples of how wind energy can transform cities. And the examples of Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven in Germany and Hull, England, are impressive. But in the middle of our own country, Newton, Iowa, used wind energy to help reverse a trend of growing unemployment. In 2006, hundreds of workers lost their jobs when a major manufacturer shut its doors. Two years later, Trinity Structural Towers, a Texas wind tower manufacturer, started retrofitting 300,000 square feet of that plant to produce steel and concrete wind towers. Also that year, TPI Composites opened a 316,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Newton, employing 500 workers to produce fiberglass blades for the wind industry.

While workers are needed to produce turbines, others are required to install and maintain them. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that the fastest growing occupation in the next 20 years will be wind turbine technician, a job that requires training, but no college degree, and paid a median annual salary of $51,050 in May 2015.

Offshore wind will benefit coastal populations and struggling port cities as a source of energy and jobs. In New Bedford, dwindling catches and tightening regulations have put fishermen out of work. But fishermen and other members of the region’s maritime workforce have skills that, with some training, could readily serve offshore wind. Similarly, workers in the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico are already working on the DeepWater Wind pilot offshore wind project being installed off of Rhode Island.

We should look to Europe for their experience in offshore wind. We can learn from their mistakes, benefit from their learning curve and see the potential of this renewable energy sector.

Joining that experience with U.S. know-how in onshore wind will create has a powerful framework for a new American energy industry.

Paul Vigeant is executive director of the New Bedford Wind Energy Center and vice president for workforce development for Bristol Community College.

Original Article Here

Plan: $148 million on South Coast Rail over five years

By Kathleen McKiernan

April 14. 2016 7:14PM

NEW BEDFORD — South Coast Rail would receive $148 million over the next five years from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, according to its draft capital plan released this week.

The draft plan includes a total of $222 million for local infrastructure projects statewide and will move to a final vote by the MassDOT Board in mid- to late May.

Under the planned spending, South Coast Rail, Route 18 redevelopment, the CoveWalk atop the hurricane barrier, and New Bedford Regional Airport would all see funding for improvements. While South Coast Rail would receive the largest chunk, the airport would get about $18.9 million for infrastructure improvements.

Towns throughout  SouthCoast also would secure funding for bridge replacements, maintenance work and stormwater improvements, according to the plan.

In Acushnet, the bridge replacement project over Hamlin Street over the Acushnet River would see $2.3 million. Dartmouth road projects on Tucker Road and I-195 maintenance would get $17.4 million. Stormwater improvements along Routes 240 and 6 in Fairhaven is slated for $228,659.

Route 18 in New Bedford would see an additional $8,488,789 for upgrades.

State Sen. Mark Montigny said the area projects will “define the future of the economy of the region.”

“The impact is enormous,” he said. “First, just the sheer job creation from infrastructure jobs. One of the best ways for the public sector to stimulate the economy is bridge and road work.”

“As someone who has been passionate about this for years, we feel very positive because of everything MassDOT and the administration has had to deal with as a result of last year’s winter and years of deferred and nonexistent maintenance. This is encouraging,” said Jean C. Fox, the project manager for South Coast Rail.

City Council President Linda Morad said, “it is one step closer to us getting it done,” referring to long-sought rail connection to Boston.

“It would be a very big economic boost to the area,” Morad said. “As someone who commuted for 20-plus years, people in the SouthCoast need that type of transportation.”

Residents, she said, have helped pay for transportation projects across the state and it is their turn now.

MassDOT will hold a series of meetings throughout the state to solicit public input on its draft five-year, multibillion dollar plan. It will hold its New Bedford meeting at the downtown public library on April 28.

Original Article:

Port Society breaks ground on $2.7 million improvement project for Bethel, Mariners Home

By Steve Urbon

May 06. 2016 6:09PM

NEW BEDFORD — The partially renovated and repaired Seamen’s Bethel and Mariners Home, both with new windows and repaired south exterior walls, will now get a thorough restoration and upgrade to bring it up to the standards expected in the 21st century.

About 50 people sat in chairs on the Bethel’s front lawn Friday to witness the groundbreaking for a $2.7 million project that will make some critical, much-needed changes, said Betsy Pye, president of the Ladies’ Branch of the New Bedford Port Society.

The most dramatic improvement will be the addition of a glass hallway to connect the buildings and provide a place to install an elevator to make it handicapped accessible. Pye recollected that when she was married in the Bethel, the lack of an elevator made it impossible for some of her guests to make it up the stairs to the chapel.

The new elevator, connected to the inconspicuous glass hallway at the rear of the buildings, and not to the buildings directly, will solve that problem for both buildings.

The unwelcome cold, raw weather, a broken ceremonial shovel and a caterer who arrived late didn’t dampen the enthusiasm and pride on the part of those who had a part in the project.

According to Port Society treasurer Bruce Oliveira, the group has raised all but $275,000 of the $2.7 million cost of the project, and will make one final push to put it over the finish line.

Mayor Jon Mitchell, whose grandfather was lost at sea on a fishing boat and whose name is on the wall of the Bethel, remarked on how central the Bethel and Mariners’ Home are to the character of the city. “These are important structures to our city and our city’s identity,” he said. “We have a proud and deep affection for the place. When we take people from out of town to show them the place we gravitate to this general area,” he said. “These buildings say a lot about our people, what we honor and what we treasure.”

When the project is complete in several months, the first floor of the Mariners Home will be the location of a fishing museum curated by the New Bedford Whaling Museum, one of the partners in the restoration project.

The second floor will house the offices of WHALE, the Waterfront Historic Area League, whose executive director of two years, Teri Bernert, was credited for being the catalyst that made the development of the project so successful.

Port Society President Fred Toomey along with Oliveira heaped praise on the Ladies Branch, the major donors, the Whaling Museum and WHALE.

Follow Steve Urbon on Twitter @SteveUrbonSCT.

Original Article:

Festa brings sights, sounds and traditions of Portugal to downtown New Bedford

By Auditi Guha

May 07. 2016 7:53PM

NEW BEDFORD — One thing is clear after the Viva Portugal celebration downtown Saturday — folks here love a festa.

“This is great. It’s really nice. Very entertaining and I had some good food — cacoila and rice pudding,” said Cathy Botelho from Fall River who stopped by the Portugalia tent to watch cooking demos. “It’s a wonderful idea. I wish they would do it in Fall River.”

Chef Tony Abreau, who cooks at the annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, whipped up some fried sweet rice balls at 5 p.m. and also spoke highly of the new endeavor. “The organizers did a lot of work and brought a lot of people out,” he said. “It’s great.”

Madeiran floats, an Azorean whaleboat, a kids comedy troupe and live music livened up a block of downtown around the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center as Portuguese organizations came together for the city’s first Viva Portugal festa.

“It’s fantastic!” said Rose Carvalho, manager of Portugalia Marketplace in Fall River that had a booth selling jams, sardines, olive oil and other island imports by the Spring Street stage. “We are a sponsor, and we are seeing many of our regular customers here.”

Visiting with her husband, New Bedford High School teacher Valerie Alves spoke highly of the event. “It’s very important to have more of these and celebrate the different cultures in the city,” she said.

As the Three Cousins played traditional Portuguese music with two mandolins and an accordion, volunteers at the Azorean Maritime Heritage Society tent helped kids race boats and tie knots on Purchase Street. Meanwhile, volunteers Ludgero Da Silva and master boatbuilder Sr. Joao stopped by the whaleboat display to eat cacoila sandwiches they bought from one of the street vendors.

Inside the tent, the Museum of Madeiran History showcased a variety of folk art and craft, books and history.

“I think this is wonderful for the community and the whole city,” said Zita Quintal, festa volunteer and museum curator.

An organizers of the event, Portuguese consul Pedro Carneiro said he loved the atmosphere, the spirit and “people having fun and learning a little more about Portugal.”

Rep. Antonio F.D. Cabral, D-New Bedford, left the fair with two pieces of student artwork to benefit Portuguese United for Education, one of whales in Pico made by his 7-year-old daughter, Victoria.

“I think this is a great initiative. I’m hoping it becomes a tradition downtown,” he said.

Rosemary Gill, executive director of programming and development at the Zeiterion and one of the organizers of the event, said she was happy with the way it turned out.

“It’s definitely been a wonderful collaboration of some of the best Portuguese institutions in the area, and I am very proud to be one of their friends,” she said.

The festa happened around the streets of the Z that hosted the closing event — a fado concert and a post-show reception with the artists Nathalie Pires and Marco Rodrigues.

Follow Auditi Guha on Twitter @AuditiG_SCT.

Original Article:

State Pier vision presents challenges, opportunities in New Bedford

By Mike Lawrence

March 28. 2016 7:03PM

NEW BEDFORD — Lead backers of the city’s new waterfront planning study acknowledged last week that development of a busier, multi-use State Pier wouldn’t come without challenges, but also said careful planning and input could effectively implement consultants’ vision.

Issues including traffic flow, pedestrian safety and the security of international vessels, among others, all have been considered and can be addressed as plans take shape, said New Bedford Economic Development Council (EDC) executive director Derek Santos and Ed Anthes-Washburn, port director for the Harbor Development Commission.

Santos placed his finger on a rendering of State Pier to make his point last week, when discussing plans proposed by Boston-based consultants Sasaki Associates.

CLICK TO READ THE FULL NEW BEDFORD WATERFRONT PLAN

“A lot of design attention has to be paid right here to make sure it’s safe for everyone,” Santos said, pointing to the intersection of MacArthur Drive and the access road onto State Pier, and the New Bedford Ferry Terminal.

Significantly more traffic could use that road if Sasaki’s vision is realized. Commercial buildings on the pier’s northwest corner; a public event space on the southwest; and a fish auction and offloading area with significant public access, on the south side of the dock, all could boost pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

That traffic could mix with customers for the ferry terminal in the summer, trucks with cargo from the State Pier warehouse in the winter, and trucks from a new fish offloading area on most mornings.

John Silvia, general manager for ferry terminal operator Seastreak, said Seastreak saw about 70,000 customers last year and is projecting an additional 37,000 this season — from mid-May through October — with the addition of ferry service to Nantucket.

Silvia said Sasaki’s proposal for a multi-use State Pier would decrease on-site parking for ferry customers, meaning more use of the Whale’s Tooth parking lot and potentially, he said, of the Elm Street parking garage.

“But on the flip side of the coin, the city and the state have been working with us very closely on creating something that would benefit our passengers, as well as new businesses that they’re trying to accommodate on the waterfront,” Silvia said. “We’re interested to see how this will unfold and very excited to see that New Bedford is taking steps in a positive direction.”

David Wechsler, president of Maritime International, which handles international cargo at State Pier, said last week that: “The company endorses the concept of multiple uses of the State Pier and it will show great flexibility in order to help to make the plans work.”

On Monday, Wechsler also noted that Sasaki’s proposal is just that — a proposal.

“When we get down to actually implementing some of the concepts, we will sit down and make sure that the traffic flow is safe and will not endanger any pedestrian flow,” Wechsler said. “Security and pedestrian safety will be on everybody’s list.”

Santos said the new public uses of State Pier could move pedestrian access away from the road and onto the pier’s north and south sides, where the retail, restaurant and event space would be located.

Anthes-Washburn said security concerns for when State Pier unloads international vessels — such as the Liberia-based Water Phoenix, which arrived Saturday with the season’s last load of clementines — also would need to be addressed.

State Pier’s security gate would remain in roughly the same place as currently, he said, but a fish auction building, for example, could provide a physical barrier to the pier’s cargo areas while also requiring additional security measures.

Follow Mike Lawrence on Twitter @MikeLawrenceSCT.

Original Article Here:

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20160328/NEWS/160329400

SouthCoast Today-Our View: Port plan sets the right course

March 27. 2016 2:01AM

The New Bedford waterfront has been the city’s most important natural feature longer than there has been a New Bedford. It supported or continues to support whaling, textiles, manufacturing, fishing, ferries and freight, through two economic pinnacles.

Today it hosts the richest fishing port in the country, a thriving and attractive home for recreational boaters, and a growing freight function. Tomorrow, through the potential of offshore wind energy, it could support the largest offshore wind resources in the continental U.S.

The many facets of the Port of New Bedford represent a portfolio of assets, including not only the various commercial enterprises — some dependent on the water and some not — but also the brilliant recreational benefits to the city’s residents and visitors.

Under the direction of the city administration, a consultant report titled “New Bedford Waterfront Framework Plan” proposes to manage all these assets to provide a stable, sustainable, flexible plan for the future.

Officials, property owners, and the public must consider the many options and decisions facing the port with or without the Framework Plan, but the report’s development has done the first good service by reaching out to stakeholders.

According to the report, existing industries in the 600-acre, 3-mile-long study area south of Interstate 195 to the hurricane barrier support about 4,000 direct jobs and almost $3 billion in annual direct sales.

Complex policy, property, and legal issues would have to be organized to allow any planning proposal to go forward, but it is well worth noting that the priorities we see in the report are appropriate. Among the four goals listed, three explicitly address the well-being of the public through education, improvement of access, and strategic coexistence with commercial functions. It is true that there can be no true success without both economic and public benefits.

The 10- to 15-year look into the future is mapped out by the consultants with a complex matrix that considers infrastructure challenges, such as the need for changes to State Pier and the attempt to get freight rail extended to the Marine Commerce Terminal in the South End. It also anticipates legal issues about state and federal zoning, and around the governance of State Pier, whose owner — the commonwealth — may not necessarily have the same expansive vision for maintenance and public use as city officials.

The report points out that development patterns for the fishing industry have spread out over recent years, with jobs accruing even outside of the city limits, but suggests that the regulatory environment and the changing ocean will likely lead to maritime-related businesses returning to the waterfront for motives of efficiency.

In other places, the report discusses business relocation out of one or more numerous mixed-use “subareas” to take advantage of synergies and free up parcels that promote more industry clusters.

There is a long path between the vision and its realization, through commerce, legislation and policy, but the process so far has made strong efforts to address stakeholder concerns. Whatever twists and turns develop from the Framework Plan, a solid team of knowledgeable city officials and an intelligent approach to change greatly improve the chances of beneficial outcomes for one of the world’s most diverse, interesting and influential waterfronts.

Original Article Here:

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/article/20160327/OPINION/160329539