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Old 02-15-2008, 01:22 PM   #21
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Standard Times View Post
Effort to connect residents, tourists to New Bedford waterfront

By JOE COHEN
Standard-Times staff writer
February 14, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? Port of New Bedford Director Kristin Decas unveiled plans Wednesday to reconnect residents and tourists with the city's working waterfront by improving access, going after new economic opportunities and offering new attractions, such as a weekend public fish market on a pier.

Ms. Decas acknowledged there are hurdles to overcome before all the plans come to fruition, and she said everything must be done in the context of maintaining a "working waterfront" that is a commercial fishing port. But within those parameters, she said New Bedford Harbor has the potential to be a major regional draw for residents and visitors similar to the high visibility harbors in Seattle and Baltimore.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting of the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce at the Country Club of New Bedford in Dartmouth, Ms. Decas said she and others in Mayor Scott W. Lang's administration are focused on new ways to tap the harbor and waterfront's potential.

Some things under consideration, she said, include bringing in more coastal freighters, increasing ferry service, adding to recreational boating facilities and making the harbor a recreation and tourism destination.

"You want people to take pride in a working waterfront, not be segregated from it," Ms. Decas said in an interview after her presentation.

The harbor already is a major economic force on the SouthCoast, according to Ms. Decas.

It provides employment to 3,700 people, handles 60 million tons of fish a year, receives freight from inside and outside the United States, serves more than two-dozen cruise ships a year, has eight marinas serving recreational boaters and serves as a base for ferry service used by more than 100,000 passengers a year.

Ms. Decas said there are multiple studies under way to understand how to best utilize the harbor. She stressed the first priority is to maintain New Bedford's standing as the number one port in the United States based on the dollar value of fish catch landed. The value last year exceeded $280 million.

But, she noted, "for the port to remain sustainable, mixed uses" will have to be considered.

Among the initiatives under way or being studied, she said, are:

* Remaking Route 18 from a highway-like road into a boulevard, with the goal of improving access and making it safer for vehicles and foot traffic to cross from the historic and residential districts to the waterfront;
* Linking the harbor more closely to marine research facilities in Woods Hole, UMass Dartmouth and elsewhere;
* Establishing the port as a facility for short sea shipping, which would step up freight operations, especially containers and other freight now moving along the Northeast's coast on trucks;
* Increasing the number of cruise ships that visit;
* Increasing ferry service, both by adding new destinations and expanding traffic on current destinations;
* Going beyond freight, cruise lines and ferry service at the State Pier, a facility operating at only 10 percent of capacity;
* Creating new marinas, improving recreational boating access and targeting the transient boating community;
* Utilizing parcels, such as the 95-acre Hicks-Logan parcel, for hotels, restaurants and other travel and entertainment, including possibly a casino; and
* Building a 3.5-mile-long walkway and bikeway atop the harbor hurricane barrier.

In addition, Ms. Decas said that much like farmers' markets, New Bedford has the potential to create a fish market that could operate on weekends and combine the commercial and non-commercial aspects of the port to everyone's advantage.

She recalled a childhood visit to Norway, where her family has roots, and seeing an active public fish market there. She also recounted visiting Seattle's fish market.

Ms. Decas said those experiences with highly utilized public fish markets are what make her enthusiastic about doing the same thing locally. "It is a cool opportunity," Ms. Decas said.

She said the economic viability of a fish market needs to be assessed, along with interest from the fishing industry. "We would need to find a site in partnership with the industry," she said, but the obstacles do not appear to be too great, and it potentially could happen as early as next year on one of the city or state piers.

Ms. Decas, who was put in her job by Mayor Lang, serves as both director of the Port of New Bedford and executive director of the city Harbor Development Commission.

She said the Lang administration operates with a forward-looking attitude. She said the city last year looked at starting ferry service between New Bedford and Woods Hole. Ms. Decas said the city received $75,000 from the state to conduct a study.

"Mayor Lang said 'no study, let's run it.' We set up a pilot project ? two trips a day ? for the first two weeks in August. Two thousand people got on the ferries ? they were at capacity," Ms. Decas said.

There still is not scheduled ferry service to Woods Hole, but the experience of actually operating a pilot program provided useful information and having a permanent ferry connection remains a goal.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com
http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/...42/1011/TOWN10

Kristin Decas' head is in the right place. In fact, I'm shocked that she mentioned that route 18 should be turned into a boulevard. It's good to see that the administration is on board.

It would be wise of New Bedford to create a fish market (although trying to be Seattle is no easy task, but the ambition should be lauded) on the waterfront. It's the most important fishing port in the country, so that's one way to capitalize on that. Good stuff.
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Old 02-15-2008, 01:42 PM   #22
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

> * Building a 3.5-mile-long walkway and bikeway atop the harbor hurricane barrier.

Would this involve building a drawbridge across the gap (gate) in the barrier?
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Old 02-16-2008, 02:29 PM   #23
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

^^Good question.

I never considered the hurricane barrier to be very inviting, in fact, it's downright steep and (and obviously rocky) on the sides at certain points. It'll be interesting to see how the project is managed (access points, bridging the gap, safety rails, etc) if it's put through.
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Old 02-25-2008, 11:25 AM   #24
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

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Originally Posted by ST View Post
Music school backers envision a 'mini-Berklee' downtown

By JOE COHEN
Standard-Times staff writer
February 25, 2008 6:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD ? A community school affiliated with the Berklee College of Music in Boston and focused primarily on under-served youth has been proposed for the city by a prominent local musician.

Jackie Santos, a full professor of percussion at Berklee and well-known drummer who has played with Tavares, The Beaver Brown Band and many other contemporary groups, wants to start a school downtown that could serve city youth.

The affiliated school concept tied to Berklee College of Music already has been established in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Memphis and other larger cities.

As to whether it would work in the city, Mr. Santos says it could be "as big as we want it to be."

"There is so much musical talent here it is unbelievable," Mr. Santos said. "This is an opportunity New Bedford cannot pass up."

J. Curtis Warner, Jr., Berklee associate vice president for education outreach, said he agrees.

"Look what has come out of New Bedford ? Tavares, Coleus, Candida Rose. There is a lot of talent in New Bedford ... it is not formally trained ... but the talent is there."

Mr. Warner cited the strong Cape Verdean-Portuguese cultural ties to music as one of the city's strengths.

Mr. Santos has engaged City Councilor Brian Gomes in an effort to explore whether the city would be supportive of such a school.

Councilor Gomes asked the City Council to have the Committee on Appointments and Briefings meet with Mr. Santos and Mr. Warner "for the purpose of bringing a campus prep school to the city."

In addition, Councilor Gomes asked that an inventory of downtown space that might be used for a music school be made available. Councilor Gomes said he has been at work with Mr. Santos for "nearly nine months on bringing this initiative to fruition."

The matter has now been sent to the Committee on Appointments and Briefings, but no date has been set for action.

Mr. Warner, in a letter sent to Councilor Gomes and provided to the council, said, "Our interest in seeing a school of this type in New Bedford has to do with one of the college's strategic initiatives, namely the rolling out of our Boston-based Berklee City Music (Network) Program for urban youth on a national level."

Mr. Warner's letter states that at its core, the program "includes a commitment to providing access to the study of contemporary music for an under-served youth audience." He said the program can promote "the life-changing role that a contemporary music education plays in the lives of these students."

In separate interviews, Mr. Warner and Mr. Santos said they have been working on bringing the program to the city for three years.

"I have had the vision for seven or eight years," Mr. Santos said of the school. He said growing up in the city, "I had tunnel vision ? I knew exactly what I wanted out of the (music) business."

Now, he said, he wants "to share that with students."

"It is a gift I treasure. ... I want kids to have the same opportunity that came to us."

Mr. Santos said that he envisions a "mini-Berklee" that would draw its students primarily from the city, but could potentially draw students from Cape Cod to Providence. He said he wants the school to be independent from the city school system.

Mr. Warner said the system that Berklee has set up for the Berklee City Music Network offers materials to instructors online. Separately, he said, self-paced tutorials are made available online to students. He stressed, however, that it is not an online teaching program, but uses the Internet only to disseminate materials while still requiring students work to face-to-face with music instructors.

Mr. Warner said Berklee requires certain criteria for community schools that seek to join its network, including they: Follow Berklee curriculum; offer instruction at no cost; target students who cannot afford a music education; and be well established in the community.

Students are instructed in the "Pulse" method that Berklee uses and there is a "Pulse" summer institute at Berklee for which scholarships are available for qualified students.

The Berklee College of Music was founded in 1945 and on its Web site calls itself the world's largest independent music college and the premier institution for the study of contemporary music. According to the Web site, it has 3,800 students and 460 faculty members, with about a quarter of its students coming from outside the United States.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com
Original Story: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/...NEWS/802250315
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:24 PM   #25
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

Some interesting pictures and original sketches of Paul Rudolph's design for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

http://prudolph.lib.umassd.edu/umassd
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Old 02-27-2008, 09:10 PM   #26
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

Thanks for the link, I love the original sketches. Umass Dartmough has (in my opinion) some of the best examples of brutalist architecture in the state.

A simple flickr search turns up some great photos for those who haven't been to the campus: http://flickr.com/search/?q=umass+dartmouth

Some examples taken from that flickr search:







And one of the Orginal Sketches:


Thanks, kmp, for a great link.
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Old 02-28-2008, 10:31 AM   #27
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

How do the students and faculty feel about the architecture? Do they embrace it, hate it, or some of both?
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:03 AM   #28
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

If I had to generalize my experiences with people's opinions on the architecture of the campus in one word, I'd say: Indifference. It's strange really, because if you take anyone, even someone who knows nothing of architecture to City Hall in Boston, they comment on the design; usually it's negative, sometimes it's positive, but almost everyone has something to say.

UMass Dartmouth students (and the few faculty I've discussed it with) pay little to no attention to the actual architecture. Most comments I've heard are on the layout of the campus; mostly complaining that in order to walk to the central buildings from the dorms, they have to cross the main campus artery (a not-so-busy ring around the campus core) and long parking lots. The core of the campus, aka Rudolph's design, is designed well, and engaging to the pedestrian, and when I pushed for a response from friends, they acknowledged this.

Bottom line: it seems that no one on campus really has much to say about the layout or the architecture of the core of the campus which is probably a testament to a good plan and architecture. You can bet that if it wasn't done well, people would bitch and moan about it and that doesn't happen too often.
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Old 02-28-2008, 11:09 AM   #29
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

Thanks. Too bad UMass-Boston wasn't designed this well.
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Old 03-03-2008, 10:33 AM   #30
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

FINALLY! New Bedford is in the hunt for a downtown (waterfront) hotel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Standard Times View Post
Downtown hotel land purchase closes

By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
March 03, 2008 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD ? A Westport-based development group completed the purchase last week of land along the city waterfront for a planned 100-room hotel.

The purchase by Lafrance Hospitality Co. marks the first hotel project in the city's economic development program, and provides a potential anchor for waterfront and downtown development.

In addition, the hotel could play a supporting role in the city's future if a casino were built.

Richard Lafrance, who heads the firm that will oversee the hotel's construction and operation, downplayed the land purchase, noting that a number of steps remain, including finalizing development plans and securing a hotel franchise.

Mr. Lafrance said Friday he believed he might be able to provide more substantive information in about two weeks.

The sale price was not disclosed, but it was believed to be in the $1.5 million to $2 million range. The property was assessed by the city at $1.3 million.

When Mr. Lafrance and city officials announced plans for the hotel in January, Mr. Lafrance indicated that a spring 2009 opening would be possible. Also in January, Mr. Lafrance indicated plans were for a "mid-scale" hotel ? above a budget hotel and below a luxury, high-priced hotel. At the time of the announcement, the hotel building being proposed was a low-rise, consisting of about four floors with amenities including an indoor pool.

City officials on Friday also expressed muted enthusiasm about the sale. They cited it as a milestone in economic development efforts and hailed its potential for helping the city's hospitality and entertainment image. But, they cautioned, much work remains to be done.

The city has been trying for decades to secure a new hotel downtown.

Mayor Scott W. Lang, who took office more than two years ago, has been promoting a number of economic development issues, and considered a hotel to be a top priority.

Mayor Lang said Friday that a downtown hotel is an important component for the city's business environment and "creative economy," a term used to describe the arts, theater and galleries, and the people who patronize, operate and contribute to them.

"People come on day trips, now they can come and stay, and help drive the restaurants, museums and the theater," Mayor Lang said. "A hotel complements all of that."

"I am very enthusiastic about the Lafrance family ? they are acknowledging that New Bedford is a destination ... that is why this is so important.

Matthew A. Morrissey, executive director of the New Bedford Economic Development Council, said the city had commissioned a feasibility study, which was used as a marketing tool for prospective developers.

"I'm heartened by the latest development and look forward to continuing to work with Lafrance Hospitality to move this project to successful completion," he said.

Mr. Morrissey said a number of city groups and agencies will be engaged in seeing the project meets city standards including the City Council and Planning Board.

If plans move forward, the hotel will be built on property that has housed Delken Dry Cleaing & Laundromats, located across MacArthur Boulevard just off the New Bedford Harbor.

The property was owned by Scott Nanfelt. The building had, until recently, housed the Finicky Pet Food Co., which last year relocated further south along the waterfront.

The City Council began considering matters related to the hotel plan during its regular meeting Thursday night, when it referred to its Committee on Appointments and Briefings items related to discontinuing use of a portion of Water Street Extension and changes to MacArthur Boulevard and John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway.

Under current plans, the city will sell two small parcels of land to the hotel developer and make changes in the roadways to accommodate the development.

The Lafrance family has been involved in the hospitality business in SouthCoast for many years, beginning in Fall River and then opening White's in Westport more than 50 years ago. That has grown into a business with other restaurants and hotels along the SouthCoast and in other states.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com
"Securing a hotel franchise" I wonder how highly sought after New Bedford waterfront hotel space is? If none of the major middle rate hotel chains are interested, then being selective won't be possible. 4 stories sounds like this could turn into Motel 6- NB Waterfront, but I hope not. While a hotel is much needed downtown, I'd rather see no hotel than a motel on that type of real estate. The parking situation will be interesting too; I doubt this small-town developer (Westport?!) is going to be too concerned about garaging the site. It'll likely be a large open lot. Oh well hope for the best, prepare for the worst, right?

*Edit* forgot the link: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/...37/1011/TOWN10
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Old 03-03-2008, 10:55 AM   #31
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

It will be a Hampton Inn according to the people I have spoken with who are in the know. Peronally, I'm surprised they're wasting the money with New Bedford being such an economic and cultural wasteland. This is the best example I've ever seen of a feel good, pro bono, throw money into the sea development. I only spend time down there because the sailing is better than Marblehead.
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Old 03-03-2008, 11:09 AM   #32
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

New Bedford has its many issues, but it's not an economic or a cultural wasteland. It brings in the most valuable catch in the United States in terms of fishing and is probably the best place in the state (country?) to enjoy the Portuguese-American experience. It has a sufficient Zoo in Buttonwood Park and a few music festivals and art galleries that do draw people in from elsewhere.

In fact, I (and I'm not alone) would consider New Bedford to have one of the best untapped potentials in the state considering it's proximity to the Cape and the Islands (which of course it will always play second fiddle to) and a University of a decent size that wants to invest in it's Oceanography program targeting New Bedford as the primary location.

A waterfront hotel is probably a good move by whomever builds there. Hampton Inn, while not great by any stretch, is a good start for the city. More need to follow this lead if the city expects to draw in more tourists, but this is a step in the right direction. The big concern is that they will set this up like, well, a typical Hampton Inn. The last thing New Bedford needs is River's Edge park part II. We'll see how this continues to develop. They're moving quickly by Massachusetts standards if this was proposed in January and now, in March, a land transaction is already being made.
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Old 03-03-2008, 11:36 AM   #33
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

The lack of a hotel in New Bedford is glaring. I might stay in it for Summerfest if it were built. Downtown New Bedford is a tourist area and will do better if people can actually stay there overnight.
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Old 03-03-2008, 11:40 AM   #34
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

This is the problem though, you live there practically. Ask anyone who doesn't, and most likely they will view it the way I do. To us, it's homah-da-fish(home of the fish) and that's pretty much it. I know the mayor there is a really good guy, he would be a worthy successor to Menino if he lived in Boston, he's literate, seriously though, he's very well educated and highly articulate but the same cannot be said for most of the other local pols. I remember going to a time down there a few summers ago for the old DA($25 and unlimited beer, I think it was actually called the beer bash or something, it was at a VFW in a sketchy neighborhood) and over the course of the night I had the privilege of meeting some of these people, more than one one struck me as a real life forrest gump.
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Old 03-03-2008, 02:25 PM   #35
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

Haha. I would agree about your past experiences with local politicians. However, The Lang era in New Bedford has brought many new faces to city. Lang himself is a passionate man and an educated man, but he's all over the place. My mother is a local politician (Freetown Selectman, Head of the Democratic Party of Freetown, and Freetown Police Commissioner) as well as a Workforce Investment Board employee in New Bedford and knows him personally. I have never met him, but her accounts of him are that he is (as you said) smart, ambitious, and passionate, but has a short attention span regarding action. His supporting cast will be what will make him a great mayor (if he becomes great). Sam Sutter, the current D.A., is also a personal friend of the family (my little sister dates his step-son) and is a brilliant man (educated at Brown) who will be much more successful than his predecessor (Paul Walsh). The future of New Bedford politics is bright, and the future of the city itself seems to be looking up.

Your point about people viewing New Bedford as "homah-da-fish" is well taken. In fact, you don't have to go too far outside of the city at all to hear that opinion (that's the common view in Freetown which borders NB to the North). The positive thing is that New Bedford has interest from the right people. The Lang administration is very pro development and there is a large artist community that would like to see a change as well.

Developments like hotels are necessary in order to change that perception that New Bedford is nothing more than a poor fishing slum. There are already areas that attract tourists, and the Whaling Museum, the future Oceanarium, Whaling District, and Downtown already draw people in locally. Also, as i said in the last post, New Bedford is on I-195, and has a bunch of Ferry routes as well as an Airport used by Cape-Air for travel to the Cape and the Islands. A hotel is the first step for a city that hopes to not only turn passers-by into overnight tourists, but an initiative to bring people in who normally wouldn't go to New Bedford.

The prospect of the Commuter Rail (albeit in 2017 at the earliest) will be a huge step for NB in terms of reinventing itself as well. A non-automobile connection to Boston will be great for a city with a walkable downtown area and access to the islands via ferry as well as potentially attracting white-collar Boston commuters to the area and being a starting point for any sort of TOD.

Finally, UMass Dartmouth's interest in NB as a hub for all of their marine-related operations cannot be underrated. A combination of all of these events makes for a prime time for New Bedford to go from "home of the fish" to a reinvented coastal city. Will New Bedford become Portland Maine II? Most likely not, but there's a lot of potential there and building hotels and changing perception are both steps in the right direction.

As Ron Newman said, the lack of a hotel is glaring... without one, no city can hope to draw visitors. I think this is a smart move on the part of whichever franchise builds there and I think it can act as a catalyst to bring in other hotels.
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Old 03-03-2008, 02:47 PM   #36
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

where is the future Oceanarium and what is its current status?
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Old 03-03-2008, 03:31 PM   #37
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

it's the Ocean Explorium, and it's set to open this spring "at the New Bedford Seaport" it's address is 174 Union Street. So it's a couple of blocks away from the actual waterfront.

More information (including directions and a news page) here:
http://www.oceanexplorium.org/

Construction and retro-fitting are nearly complete.
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Old 03-03-2008, 04:50 PM   #38
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

[quote=Lrfox;46846]A combination of all of these events makes for a prime time for New Bedford to go from "home of the fish" to a reinvented coastal city. Will New Bedford become Portland Maine II?[quote]

On a positive note at least you're not one of those lunatics who thinks New Bedford is going to be the next Newport.

Last edited by kmp1284; 03-03-2008 at 04:52 PM. Reason: fixed quote, or so I thought
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Old 03-03-2008, 05:02 PM   #39
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

[quote=kmp1284;46869][quote=Lrfox;46846]A combination of all of these events makes for a prime time for New Bedford to go from "home of the fish" to a reinvented coastal city. Will New Bedford become Portland Maine II?
Quote:

On a positive note at least you're not one of those lunatics who thinks New Bedford is going to be the next Newport.
Newport? Not a chance. I think for comparison's sake the closest thing New Bedford could approach is Portland, ME but I still think Portland has too much that New Bedford doesn't (interest from all over the region and a highway that doesn't divide the city from the waterfront for starters, but it doesn't end there). New Bedford is in more of a position to improve than some other similar cities (take Fall River for example) and it has a government now that's very pro-development.

It's going to be at least a decade or two before we can safely say that New Bedford has solved some of its major problems, but steps in the right direction are being taken (Commuter Rail, Hotels, Proposals to turn route 18 into a surface boulevard, preservation projects, etc) and IF they're done correctly, in 20 years, the perception of New Bedford could be much different than what it is today ("IF" being the key word there).

New Bedford has too much local competition and too far to go to ever (in my opinion) be considered in the same league as Newport or Nantucket or any of the other great coastal cities and towns of Southern New England; but that doesn't mean it can't improve it's current status.

Last edited by Lrfox; 03-03-2008 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 03-03-2008, 05:37 PM   #40
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Re: The New Bedford Thread

The places I'd prefer to compare it to are Salem, Gloucester, Newburyport (three other historic seaports) and Lowell (another once down-and-out town that has successfully attracted tourists).
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