Community Preservation Committee suggests $466,000 grant for maritime center

Apr 20, 2016

Dartmouth's Community Preservation Committee is suggesting the town support the proposed $1.7 million maritime center in Padanaram with $466,000 in Community Preservation Act funding.

Town Administrator David Cressman says the center could bolster economic development and offer recreational programs to engage young boaters. But concerns about the lack of parking at the property and the safety of the water for new boaters have peppered recent maritime center conversations among town officials and residents.

The 4 Water Street property, which would cost the town $765,000, includes a house, garage, and dock. A total of $1 million of the estimated $1.7 million project cost would be covered by a grant from the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council.

On Thursday, April 14, Community Preservation Committee member Stewart McGregor appeared in front of the Finance Committee on behalf of his committee to speak in support of the center, and ask the Finance Committee for its support of the $466,000 Community Preservation Act grant.

“There are a lot people that grow up in this town that never get on the water. It’s because it’s not easy and this is an app to provide access,” McGregor said. McGregor is a long-time resident of Dartmouth who also owns Concordia Company, a marine company.

Community Preservation Act funds are raised through a 1½ percent property tax surcharge. Town Meeting must approve any use of the funds.

McGregor told the committee that anywhere conditions are harsh pose problems for new boaters, not just the location off of Water Street. He asserted that the location would be “good for most people."

The Select Board agreed earlier this month to hold off on purchasing the property until a committee could be assembled to explore options for the town. Cressman says the center will be discussed again at the Select Board's May 9 meeting.

McGregor stressed to the Finance Committee that having a maritime center would be a draw for people boating from out of town, since they would be able to tie up their boats and head into town to enjoy the restaurants and shopping district. As it is now, boaters are often referred to the nearby yacht club, which charges boaters to tie up.

McGregor also suggested that having dinghy spaces for rent would help offset some of the operating costs of the center. Paddle board racks could also be made available for residents.