Morad’s Support Could Make the Difference for New Bedford [OPINION]
The New Bedford City Council plans to vote on Thursday night on the first phase of a proposal that would convert a portion of the Whaling City Golf Course into an Advanced Manufacturing Campus. A unanimous vote in the affirmative could make a big difference.
A "yes" vote asks the Massachusetts Legislature to approve a "home rule petition" that permits the Mitchell Administration to use protected parkland at the golf course while converting city-owned land in Dartmouth to recreational use. It really does require an act of the legislature to get it done.
The vote to report the measure to the full council was 10-1 with only Councilor-at-Large Linda Morad opposed. Morad's opposition seemed odd as she proposed a very similar economic development strategy when she ran for mayor in 2011. But there it was.
The Advanced Manufacturing Campus being touted by the Mitchell Administration could generate between 800 and 1,200 good-paying jobs with benefits. It could also generate millions in new annual revenue for the City of New Bedford – not to mention a new golf course. It's a win-win, a no brainer.
Presenting a "home rule petition" on Beacon Hill is never a shoo-in. There are 160 members of the House and 40 members of the Senate. Representative Chris Markey will introduce the petition in the House and Sen. Mark Montinigny in the Senate. Voting to move restrictions on parkland in New Bedford is not a high priority in the legislature. In fact, some environmentalists might oppose the idea on principle.
A less than unanimous vote from the New Bedford City Council might give the impression at the State House that there is real opposition to the project at home. That would not be good.
Linda Morad needs to swallow whatever it is that is causing her to object to this petition and vote with her colleagues in support of the project. A unanimous city council vote could go a long way to convincing some skeptics on Beacon Hill that this is a worthwhile endeavor.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.