New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell may have had some inside influence on getting the city a $1 million grant to help fund the construction of a new waterfront public safety center along New Bedford Harbor.

After all, Mitchell serves on the Seaport Economic Council that awarded the grant on Monday.

"And New Bedford has gotten grants over the years...from the committee that I'm on," Mitchell said with a laugh. "It's kind of loaded in that way, but all to the good for New Bedford."

In his weekly appearance on WBSM, Mitchell said the new center will be built on Pier 3, right next to the Wharfinger building that houses the Waterfront Visitor's Center.

"The idea is, we need to enhance port security," he said.

Mitchell pointed to "a tremendous influx" of out-of-state vessels into New Bedford Harbor, as well as an uptick in recreational boating, freighter traffic in the harbor that will only increase when the new refrigeration at State Pier comes online, and the offshore wind industry as reasons why the safety center is needed.

"What this means is, we've got to take steps to make sure everybody that uses our port is safe, and their property is safe," he said. "There is a number of law enforcement agencies that have some maritime responsibility."

"The police department is in charge of law enforcement on the water now, and the fire department runs search and rescue missions on the water. There's the state environmental police, the state police, U.S. Customs that works on the State Pier. There a number of law enforcement agencies in place, and we need to make sure they're all talking to each other," he said.

Mitchell said the plan is for the new waterfront safety center to be completed sometime in the spring of 2019.

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