We are urging the New Bedford Harbor Trustee Council to reconsider the allocation of funding toward the development of New Bedford Harbor by focusing specifically on the needs of the City of New Bedford and its residents.
We know that the Riverwalk is not simply a ‘recreational project’ but rather a multi-tiered initiative which not only adds to the harbor infrastructure but also provides diverse opportunities for development, work, and leisure. This project is not only vital for the quality of life of our residents, but also a crucial piece in our projected plans for a creative economy and sound tourist base. The Riverwalk, as extension of Fort Taber Park and Riverside Park, establishes a continuum, creating an environment that holistically restores, conserves, and protects the natural resources historically enjoyed by the harbor and river. This priority is essential; only after it is served can we consider human service enhancement as ancillary benefit. Certainly, they are not mutually exclusive.
The citation that “no-action” alternative assumes that the Harbor cleanup …will be completed in approximately twenty years” (per page 12, Round IV Grant Applications packet) itemizes a most generous timeline. The Boston Harbor Island Project saw progress in far fewer years; the creation of an artificial reef between Spectacle Island and Long Island, moving of the outfall pipe from the harbor entrance at Deer Island to 16 miles out, and restoration of Spectacle Island from an oozing dump to an attractive ecosystem were completed in less than twenty years, inviting a range of species—dolphin and shark among them--to populate the area.
The EPA/General Electric Hudson River Dredging Project has already made vast strides in clean-up and restoration since its inception in 2009.
Your predicted scenario for New Bedford, under an umbrella of Natural Recovery, assumes a theoretical recovery period of 100 years. Human intervention can considerably shorten this span and bring life into the harbor once again. Funding the Bottom Habitat for Marine Species would ensure that the first steps were taken toward this end.
Furthermore, your funding of this project will remediate the environmental deficits New Bedford must currently deal with while incorporating a sound human ecology into an enhanced ecosystem. Anything less is a serious slight to the citizens who have contributed to the local, regional, and global economies while reaping concomitant toxicity. This is not only an environmental issue, but also a stand for social justice.
You are trusted with New Bedford harbor; let’s keep the lens where it belongs-on the City of New Bedford and its people.
Claudia Grace Captain Thomas A. Grace
sent Tuesday, December 7, 2010