2016 2016: Marine science facility reaches construction milestone

2016 2016: Marine science facility reaches construction milestone
Marine science facility reaches construction milestone

$55 million 76,000 square foot facility in New Bedford, the nation’s #1 fishing port, is being built in partnership with state Division of Marine Fisheries

The UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) reached a major construction milestone today on its $55 million, 76,000 square foot expansion in New Bedford. University students, faculty and staff were joined by state and local officials to celebrate the “topping off” of the steel infrastructure of the facility.

UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) is the largest marine science program in the UMass system. The new facility is being built in collaboration with the state Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to create major marine science hub in the nation’s top fishing port.

The new facility will join a 35,000 SMAST facility on Clark’s Cove in New Bedford. The expansion will bring more than 150 faculty, students, and staff of SMAST and DMF together to engage in education, research and policy related to commercial fishing, coastal preservation, ocean observation, and climate change.

‌‌Coastal and marine-related activities are critical to the economy and quality of life for the Commonwealth. The combined economic impact of the coastal and marine economies of Massachusetts has been estimated to exceed $130 billion and directly employs more than 1.3 million people.

“Seeing the steel of this building, we are reminded of the strong, unyielding, enduring commitment that UMass Dartmouth and our School for Marine Science and Technology are making to this the community, the Commonwealth and the planet,” interim UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Peyton R. Helm said. “The work that will go on within these walls will help sustain fisheries, protect the fragile coastal environment and confront issues related to climate change. There is no better place for this facility and these brilliant scientists to be.”

“Today’s milestone comes at a time when federal regulations continue to unfairly restrict our hardworking fishermen.  SMAST’s commitment to developing sound science and marine data will play a major role in reducing this unfair burden.  Their efforts will also help us better understand the effects of climate change and the impacts of the emerging offshore wind industry.  I look forward to the day when this building is full with scientists, researchers and students all working together to advance marine technology and our local economy,” said Senate Assistant Majority Leader and Rules Chairman Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford), who led the legislative effort for state funding and authored the 2008 state bond bill providing $25 million to the project."

“From today on, the field of marine science research will have the opportunity to grow and thrive right here in New Bedford," said Representative Antonio F.D. Cabral (D-New Bedford). "The advancements that will be achieved here will benefit our economy and enhance our quality of life.”

“Today marks another significant milestone for a project that will have a tremendously positive impact on both the surrounding neighborhood and our fishing industry.    It’s also important to keep in mind that the new SMAST building is just one of several other public construction projects in the City’s South End, including the new Taylor and Hannigan Elementary Schools, the South End Public Safety Center now in development, the Harbor Walk and Cove Walk projects atop the Hurricane Barrier, and major improvements planned for Hazelwood Park.   All these investments together add up to more than $100 million in state and local investment in this part of the City, so we are really making strides.” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell.

"Today, we celebrate more than a building; we celebrate the strengthening of a partnership with the Commonwealth to protect our fisheries and enhance the work of our faculty, students, and staff to sustain our ocean environment,” said School for Marine Science and Technology Dean Steven Lohrenz.

“This project is tangible evidence of UMass Dartmouth's ability to produce world class science and education that sustains one of the Commonwealth's distinguishing characteristics - its awe-inspiring, job-producing coastline,” UMass Trustee and UMass Building Authority Chair Phil Johnston. “You see why a quarter century ago, the UMass Dartmouth campus joined the University of Massachusetts, and has been nurtured into what is now a US News and World Report National Tier 1 research university."