By Charis Anderson
Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Barney Frank have thrown their support behind the city’s applications to the New Bedford Harbor trust, arguing more emphasis should be placed on projects in the harbor and its immediate vicinity.
Kerry and Frank laid out their case in a letter sent last week to officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
“Contamination in New Bedford Harbor has adversely impacted many natural aspects of the harbor environment, as well as how residents utilize the harbor and surrounding areas,” wrote Kerry and Frank.
“We (are) concerned that of the $19.1 million of the funds expended from the trust to date, only about a third has gone to projects in New Bedford or the harbor.”
In their letter, Kerry and Frank argue this funding pattern appears to deviate from the Trustee Council’s original restoration plan, which defined the New Bedford Harbor area as the Acushnet River and its watershed from the New Bedford Harbor Reservoir through the harbor to the outermost fishing closure line.
According to the letter, the council’s plan also stated that the emphasis for restoration should be placed on areas most affected by the PCB contamination of the harbor.
“Given the fact that only a third of the funding has gone to this area, we request that New Bedford’s recently submitted projects be (given) the highest priority by the Trustee Council, and that (the) Council should focus this round of funding on projects that provide maximum benefit to area most damaged by the contamination,” wrote Kerry and Frank.
The city submitted three applications to the trust in this final funding round: a $6 million proposal to restore about 1½ miles of coastline along the upper harbor; a $1.1 million plan to remediate Palmers Island and an $800,000 project focused on the continued restoration of shellfish beds in the outer harbor, according to city officials
“I think our senator and congressman focusing on this issue certainly is something that can help drive home the point that the river and the harbor should receive the benefit of the remaining harbor trust fund,” said Mayor Scott W. Lang.
“We need to focus on where the greatest harm was done.”
March 11, 2010
By Charis Anderson