EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 12, 2014

Funds for seaside communities eyed for region

NEWBURYPORT -- Efforts to secure funds in a pending state environmental bond bill for local seaside communities increased this week, with a regional board calling for supplemental funding and state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, pushing for close to a half-dozen projects in this area.

Members of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance yesterday resolved to increase lobbying efforts to acquire funds for several local seaside improvement projects.

And in a separate development, the office of O’Connor Ives reported that the senator has secured five local projects in the Senate version of the environmental bond bill that will be considered by legislators and Gov. Deval Patrick in coming weeks.

The MRBA is a loosely knit organization of local officials from a half-dozen local waterside communities that is charged with protecting and/or improving the beach and rivers of the Merrimack River watershed.

It is co-chaired by state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, and Jerry Klima, a lawyer and long-time public official in Salisbury.

Tarr yesterday noted that the state environmental bond bill for Fiscal Year 2015 is nearing finalization. The fiscal year began July 1.

He said that O’Connor Ives and state Rep. Mike Costello, D-Newburyport, have been active in earmarking several large funding projects for North Shore coastal communities.

Regarding smaller supplemental projects, he urged members to provide support by letters and phone calls for several funding projects that affect local beaches.

The organization voted to support a $133,000 supplement for a green-crab control program.

Green crabs, which are native to European waters, attack native shellfish, including clams, mussels, other crabs, small fish, marsh and eel grasses. Public officials from Massachusetts to Maine have expressed concern that the green crab is looming as not just a threat to shellfish but to the vocations built around it.

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