Questions Linger About New Bedford Water Park [OPINION]
Documents in my possession answer some questions about the water park but they don't answer all of the questions. The Conservation Commission will meet tonight.
Park Board Chairman Peter Boswell joined me on air Monday to discuss the public-private partnership between the City of New Bedford and Altitude H2O, a Texas-based private water park company.
Chairman Boswell came to answer the public's questions on the radio and he brought documents to support his position. He is unique among city officials involved in this project. Agree or disagree, he respects the public enough to show up and discuss this issue. Mayor Jon Mitchell, to his credit, also answered numerous questions about the water park and the process on The Barry Richard Show last week
Mary Rapoza, the City employee who runs the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Beaches, has never called me back. She confronted me after the July 2 meeting of the Conservation Commission and told me I only had "half of the story," but thus far she has refused to give me her version.
Craig Dixon is the current chairman of the Conservation Commission. He refused to answer his phone multiple times and he never returned the messages I left for him. He finally answered a text message to say he had "no comment" and he would make his public statement at the next Conservation Commission meeting.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that Chairman Boswell is steamrolling Chairman Dixon.
Peter Boswell brought me the July 12th document from the Massachusetts State Division of Fisheries and Wildlife that the Park Board is using to muscle aside the Conservation Commission.
"Based on a review of the information that was provided and the information that is currently contained in our database, the Division has determined that this project, as currently proposed, will not adversely affect the actual Resource Area Habitat of state-protected rare wildlife species. Therefore, it is our opinion that this project meets the state-listed species performance standard for the issuance of an Order of Conditions.
Please note that this determination addresses only the matter of rare wildlife habitat and does not pertain to other wildlife habitat issues that may be pertinent to the proposed project."
The state of Massachusetts has highlighted the fact that their study doesn't address all of the environmental concerns. The state also doesn't address the issues of environmental concern as raised in a petition that was submitted to the Conservation Commission by the abutters of the water park. The state is working off of the information it was provided by the joint business partnership of the City and the Texas water park.
So what will the Conservation Commission do on Tuesday evening when they continue their meeting from two weeks ago about the water park?
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.