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Winthrop, Lynn receive funding for harbor projects

The boat Anna is used in the Winthrop commuter ferry service, which marked its first full season recently. Winthrop is soon to begin construction of a ferry terminal facility, which is part of the town’s second phase of its plan to upgrade its public landing. The boat Anna is used in the Winthrop commuter ferry service, which marked its first full season recently. Winthrop is soon to begin construction of a ferry terminal facility, which is part of the town’s second phase of its plan to upgrade its public landing.
By John Laidler
Globe Correspondent / October 27, 2011

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Winthrop will be able to begin design of a harborfront walkway and Lynn will receive added funds for its ferry terminal project as a result of grants awarded by the state’s Seaport Advisory Council.

At its Oct. 18 meeting, the council approved $300,000 for Winthrop’s HarborWalk. It awarded $259,300 in supplementary funding for the second phase of the three-phase project to build a terminal on Blossom Street for Lynn’s planned commuter ferry.

The Winthrop grant will pay for permitting and design of the first section of the HarborWalk, a mile-long path that will extend along Shirley Street from the town landing to the intersection of Shirley and Washington streets - known as Delby’s Corner - and along Washington Street and around Lewis Lake.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the town to move our revitalization of this waterfront area forward,’’ said Peter Lombardi, the town’s grant administrator.

Chaired by Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, the Seaport Advisory Council allots funds to improve and develop commercial aspects of local ports and harbors.

Winthrop’s planned HarborWalk is part of an overall effort by the town to revitalize its waterfront to make it more welcoming and accessible to residents and visitors and in so doing to help the local economy.

The town built a commercial pier in 2007 on Shirley Street and last year undertook the first phase of an upgrade to its public landing, adjacent to the pier. Last year, it initiated a commuter ferry service between the pier and Rowe’s Landing in Boston, and the ferry recently completed its first full season.

The town is set to begin construction of a ferry terminal facility, the second phase of the public landing upgrade. The first phase work included rebuilding the parking area, and new landscaping, benches, and pathways, according to Paul Rupp, an economic development consultant for the town.

Town officials said the HarborWalk will provide an attractive pedestrian way connecting the landing to area businesses on both sides of Shirley Street.

“Winthrop has some of the best views of Boston and the waterfront, and it’s time we capitalized on this,’’ town manager James McKenna said in a prepared statement, expressing the town’s appreciation for the state grant.

Winthrop’s award is being funded in the fiscal year that begins next July 1, so the design work is not expected to begin until then.

The HarborWalk will be created through the improvement of the existing sidewalk on Shirley Street, including the addition of landscaping and other amenities. Also incorporated into the walkway will be a planned public promenade over a reconstructed railroad trestle that extends out above the harbor.

The old trestle, located behind the municipal parking lot at Delby’s Corner, was formerly used by the narrow-gauge railroad that once operated in the town.

The first phase of the project calls for construction of the HarborWalk in the Crystal Cove area, which encompasses the streets around Delby’s Corner. Officials said it has not yet been determined if the promenade would be included in phase one.

According to Rupp, the town has had discussions with a developer interested in constructing a multiuse project on the waterfront in Crystal Cove. He said the town would look to require that any such development include a publicly accessible waterside path that would be linked to the HarborWalk.

The town will apply for additional Seaport Advisory Council funds to design the other portions of the HarborWalk and look to varied funding sources to cover the estimated $6 million costs of construction. The pier and public landing work has been funded through a mix of federal and state dollars, including from the council.

The first phase of Lynn’s ferry terminal project, funded with $750,000 from the Seaport Advisory Council, was completed in 2010. It involved renovating the city’s existing public landing, as well as drainage, water, and sewer improvements, and the repaving of the parking lot.

The Seaport Advisory Council in October 2010 awarded Lynn’s Economic Development Industrial Corp. $1.39 million for phase two, which provides for construction of a new steel bulkhead to replace the existing aged one.

The recent grant will cover an unanticipated rise in the project cost due to an increase in steel prices, according to James Cowdell, EDIC executive director.

“I think it further shows the state is committed to this project and that they believe in this project,’’ Cowdell said of the recent award.

With all project funds in place, construction of the bulkhead is expected to begin shortly, and will take two to six months to complete, Cowdell said.

The third phase of the project will consist of dredging in front of the terminal. His agency will need about $2.5 million for that, but Cowdell said it is optimistic the Seaport Advisory Council will provide the funds.

EDIC will look to federal funds to acquire or lease the future ferry boat and, if unsuccessful, has committed to covering the costs itself, Cowdell said.

Cowdell said the planned introduction of ferry service is part of EDIC’s larger effort to revitalize the harbor.

“All you have to do is go to Hingham and see what kind of impact the Hingham commuter ferry had had in that area,’’ he said. “It was completely barren and today there is mixed-use there - housing, retail, oceanfront condos selling for over $1 million. . . . We believe the same type of impact will happen here.’’