At long last, New Bedford is in a position to develop the waterfront in a way that provides access to tourists and citizens alike, with retail shops and restaurants. An idea that, until recently, had been frowned upon by many.

The legislature has approved a $600 million economic development bond that allows for up to 20 percent of the square footage on the west side of the State Pier adjacent to MacArthur Drive for so-called accessory uses.This follows the recent transfer of control of State Pier from DCR to MassDevelopment, which will help to guide the transformation.

Preliminary Concept via City of New Bedford

The Mitchell Administration has fought hard for the right to develop State Pier in a way that would not only bring tourists from the waterfront into downtown, but residents and visitors to the waterfront as well. Tastefully designed and aesthetically pleasing development would complement New Bedford's bustling, historic working waterfront.

Developing New Bedford's waterfront for the enjoyment of the people is an idea that is long past due. For years, it was thought to be an either-or proposition, but this plan allows for a coexistence of commercial and fishing interests on the waterfront that appears to be a win-win for all.

Hurricane Barrier Walking Path 1 (Suzanne Richard Photo)
Hurricane Barrier Walking Path 2 (Suzanne Richard Photo)
Barry Richard Photo

Quality of life issues are extremely important in keeping our citizens here and in attracting new young professionals and families to the city. Projects such as the walking paths on top of the hurricane barriers and the development of Fort Taber Park have improved the quality of life in New Bedford, and developing State Pier is one more step in the right direction.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.