ROCKPORT — The town will receive significant federal assistance in financing the nearly completed $4.5 million rebuilding of its breakwaters, thanks to the intervention of U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and a $1.2 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Moulton's office announced the grant Monday. It will reimburse the town for the repair and redesign of both the Pigeon Cove breakwater and the harbor entrance breakwaters. Both have been damaged in the past by severe winter storms, particularly in 2010 and 2013.
The news of the funding arrived just as work crews are applying the finishing touches to the breakwaters they've been working on since early November 2015, according to town Public Works Assistant Director Tim Olson.
Olson said the contractors are working with a schedule that calls for a July 16 completion date, but the majority of the work already is complete or could be before the week is out.
"There will still be some details left, cleanup and things of that nature," Olson said. "But this has been a long and important project for the town of Rockport. It's taken us a long time to get to this place and it will be nice to call it complete."
Town officials, including Olson and DPW Commissioner Bruce Dean, effusively praised the efforts of Moulton and his office in securing the $1.2 million in FEMA funds to reimburse the town for project money it already has allocated and spent.
"Had the congressman not gotten involved, I really don't think it would have happened," Dean said.
Dean said FEMA, after instructing the town on the best method of applying for emergency funds to repair and improve the upper Pigeon Cove breakwater and the harbor entrance breakwater, initially declined to fund the project.
Town officials, according to Dean, contacted Moulton's Washington office the next day and were referred to the congressman's district office in Salem.
"It was amazing," Dean said. "Within three or four days, we were called by FEMA and told that they had miscalculated and we would be receiving the funding."
Olson said it's the fourth parcel of federal funding the town has received from FEMA. The first was for $2.3 million, with the other two for $100,000 and $68,000, respectively.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.