The Bourne Board of Selectmen has approved a request from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy for the Town of Bourne to sponsor the college’s application for a $960,000 state grant. Mass Maritime has requested the money to help fund expansion of the college’s Aquaculture and Marine Sciences Laboratory.
The board gave its approval during a remote meeting on Wednesday, May 27, to signing a letter of support for MMA’s grant application to the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council. Sponsorship by a public entity, such as the Town of Bourne, is a requirement of the grant application.
In its proposal to the economic council, Mass Maritime described the current facility as having supported “decades of aquaculture, marine fisheries, water quality and benthic habitat research.” The proposed project will upgrade the existing facility, add modernized instrumentation and clean lab culture capabilities.
“Once fully operational, the new AMS laboratory will provide, local, regional and national scientists a platform to focus on our economically important species and habitats,” the application states.
Selectmen voiced enthusiasm for the project. Selectman Jared P. MacDonald said he was in favor of signing a letter of support to accompany the application. However, he asked that the college increase its transparency with residents to help people understand the positive impact this will have on the local economy.
“Bringing people into town, raising our economy, for those people who come into town, they use restaurants, facilities, lodgings to everything else,” he said. “I’m not sure the general public knows how vast a reach this can give.”
Board member Peter J. Meier concurred that MMA needs to boost its transparency with residents relative to the project. Mr. Meier lives in Taylor’s Point, adjacent to the academy. He said he only became aware of the project when it became an item on the agenda for that night’s selectmen’s meeting.
The approval vote comes on the heels of the selectmen’s decision not to support a similar request for sponsorship made by the Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative out of Marion. MRECo approached the selectmen about supporting the collaborative’s application to the Seaport Economic Council.
MRECo is seeking funding to add a power grid connection and high-speed data communications to the testing platform installed in the Cape Cod Canal near the railroad bridge. With the Bourne selectmen’s decision not to sponsor, MRECo has turned to the Falmouth Economic Development and Industrial Corporation for sponsorship.
The EDIC voted unanimously at its Tuesday, May 26, meeting to support MRECo’s application.