Cape Ann did well in the most recent round of state Seaport Economic Council grants, with projects in Manchester and Gloucester receiving almost one-third of the $3.8 million awarded to nine coastal projects.

Manchester particularly cashed in, receiving $811,504 to expand and enhance the public dock configuration at Tuck's Point, including the construction of a new 80-foot ramp fully compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The town also received $132,000 to help fund the pre-construction design, engineering and permitting for the expansion of the commercial fishing facilities at Morss Pier in Masconomo Park.

"We're really pleased and very grateful," Town Administrator Gregory T. Federspiel said Thursday. "This allows us to move ahead on two important projects."

Manchester was the only applicant to receive two grants, totaling $943,504, in this round of funding the council distributed to eight communities.

In Gloucester, a project partnering the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute and the state Division of Marine Fisheries received $128,266 to continue exploring new methods for testing for norovirus in shellfish harvest areas.

The two-year collaboration, initially funded with a $200,000 line item in the state's 2020 fiscal year budget, plays to the strengths of its respective partners.

DMF provides the biological infrastructure for identifying and sampling shellfish — particularly those in proximity to wastewater treatment plants. GMGI provides the genomic sequencing to help determine dependable indicators of the presence of norovirus.

In Manchester, the Tuck's Point project calls for the construction of the new ramp and the relocation — and in some cases, the replacement — of existing docks. 

The new docking configuration, Federspiel said, will anchor the docks to pilings to make them more environmentally sound and offer more protection from heavy storms. It also will provide about 75 feet of additional tie-up space.

The facilities are used by the Manchester Sailing Association and recreational boaters, as well as by fishing and sailing charter operations.

In the late winter of 2019, a powerful storm damaged the ramp beyond repair and wrecked some docks, ultimately leading to the town's decision to re-design the configuration.

"That late winter storm that damaged the ramp really highlighted the inadequacy of the previous setup," Federspiel said.

He said the town is close to finalizing the bid specifications for the project.

"We hope to see construction begin in May and be finalized in June in time for the boating season," he said.

Federspiel said the $132,000 grant will be used to conduct a feasibility and design study to determine how best to improve the commercial fishing facilities at Morss Pier.

Ultimately, he said, the project is expected to result in new floats and more slip space for commercial fishermen, most of whom are lobstermen whose vessels now are on moorings.

A primary goal of the project is to improve the fishermen's dockside access to bait and gear, while facilitating the landing of their catch.

"We hope to get underway with that this summer," Federspiel said.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT

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