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Rep. Keating visits Broad Meadows restoration project in jobs tour

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 28, 2011 01:49 PM

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Project Manager Wendy Gendron talks with Rep Keating about the Broad Meadows project and what benefits the dredging will have to the local economy and environment.

US Representative William Keating is making the rounds in the South Shore and Cape this week with one pressing thing on his mind: jobs.

From meeting at the Greater Quincy Career Club today with residents who have recently lost their jobs to talking with small businesses in a round table discussion in Hyannis on Thursday, Keating said he's trying to gather information and solicit ideas before heading back to Washington.

“When you say jobs, you’re attacking the deficit,” the Quincy Democrat said Wednesday morning. “We have to make long-range cuts, but if we get permanent jobs, we’re attacking the issue at the core.”

The first stop on his jobs tour was the Broad Meadows Salt Marsh restoration, a job that is expected to be complete by December of this year.

The project is creating jobs as Army Corps of Engineers workers, who are attempting to reverse the sendiment dumping in the marsh in the 1950s. And according to neighbor and volunteer P.J. Foley, it’s also improving the environment and enhancing public safety.

“This project is phenomenal. It gets a lot of press as an environmental project, but this is jobs, it’s a public health issue,” as the restoration will destroy 36 acres of mosquito breading ground, he said.

This will also become a shock-absorber for coastal flooding, Foley said.

The finished project will mean the restoration of 35 acres of high and low salt marsh, 20 acres of high marsh, and five acres of bordering vegetative wetlands.

The project was initially halted due to a lack of funds, yet with $150,000 in mitigation money donated from the Neponset River Watershed Association, and with the Army Corps of Engineers three-to-one match of $450,000, work has not stopped on the $6 million project.

Additional environmental impacts include the fact that the marsh will become a breeding ground for fish, an important faactor since 80 percent of dockside fish are generated through salt marshes.

Coupled with the bids for the Designated Port Area harbor space that is ongoing at the docks near Souther Tide Mill, it’s all a recipe for success.

“Not only are we providing [fishermen] with stock, but on the opposite channel, we’ll be providing them jobs,” Foley said.

The fishing aspect of the project was especially appealing to Keating, who met with dozens of commercial fishermen last year in an effort to assuage their concerns about the struggling industry.

“This is going to help our fishing industry when they are at a time of environmental constraints,” Keating said. “We’re dealing with the problem from another direction.”

None of the dredged material will be removed from the site, said Wendy Gendron, the project engineer with the Army Corps for the Broad Meadows Project.

The dredged material will be placed in giant mounds above the invasive species of reed that has taken over the marshlands in recent years and planted with grass. The result will be an expansive open space complete with waterfront view.

“This is the heart of the city,” Foley said. “When this begins to propagate, people will wake up and see that there is a 150-acre waterfront park and think, 'Where did this come from?' ”

Still problematic is the National Grid power lines that run through the marsh. If there were to be next steps, it would be to remove the lines out of the marsh entirely and bring the grassy mound closer to the water.

In the meantime, however, the area is flush with benefits from the project.

“This is a good example of how leveraging an investment in an area can change [things], especially in an area with such controversy,” Keating said.

Keating is also expected to visit YouthBuild in Quincy to discuss challenges facing young adults entering the work force, and meet with oyster farmers in Barnstable and cranberry bog operators in Carver to discuss challenges facing their industry.

Keating will also celebrate the completion of the Quincy Concourse on Sunday, which is part of the larger Quincy redevelopment that is estimated to create thousands of jobs.

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