Jobs Potential Touted in Tour of State Pier Overhaul

By Charis Anderson

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, left, tours the overhaul of State Pier in New Bedford on Thursday with city officials and Seaport Advisory Council staff. Work on the facility could be complete by November. John Sladewski/The Standard-Times

NEW BEDFORD — Work on a multimillion-dollar overhaul of State Pier that will address various structural deficiencies in the building could be complete by November, an update that will help breathe new life into the facility. Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, chairman of the Seaport Advisory Council, which is funding the $2.2 million project, toured the building Thursday with city officials and council staff. “If you’ve got a modern, up-to-date facility that can be used for multiple purposes, it makes it a lot more attractive,” said Murray during the tour. “We think there’s a lot of opportunity.”
The work will be split into two phases to accommodate the Commercial Marine Expo, a trade show to be held in the space in early June. The initial phase of work is focused on improvements that will enhance the facility for the trade show, such as the curing and leveling of the floor, constructing encasements around columns in the building and repairing the roof, according to Kristin Decas, executive director of the city’s Harbor Development Commission. Once the expo is over, work will begin on demolishing the back bay of the building to increase the apron space outside, which is needed to support cargo operations, she said.
The second phase will also include improvements to the building’s wiring and electrical system and its sprinkler system as well as renovations on the second floor to make it suitable for office space and other uses, said Decas. The HDC is also working on a market study looking at different uses of the building to maximize its potential, according to Decas. “You have some flexibility there to do things (on the second floor) that might really promote that asset,” she said. “But you have to make sure it enhances the working waterfront.” Murray said the facility has been marketed successfully over the past few years, helping to secure additional business such as the importation of clementines from North Africa. “We’ve seen just in a couple years an increased level of activity and that creates jobs,” Murray said. Decas said the port is already competitive due to the available and affordable work force and the absence of a harbor maintenance tax. “As we do more and more improvements, we can start seeing a big pickup in business, which means the most important thing: jobs,” Decas said.
In addition to walking through the State Pier facility, Murray toured New Bedford harbor on the police patrol boat and received updates on various projects funded through the Seaport Advisory Council, including a new, color-coded mooring ball system that is expected to be in place in June. The grid for the moorings has been redrawn, and each different type of mooring will be assigned a different color, making it clear to visitors to the port where they need to go, said Decas. “It’s exciting to really sell the port now to the recreational boating community … now that we have all the infrastructure we need,” she said.
May 14, 2010 12:00 AM
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