ALEXANDRIA, Va., – Working waterfronts are a dying breed. With developer’s eyes on waterfront parcels, water-dependent businesses like marinas, boat yards, commercial fishing operations, boat builders, and charter boat fleets are getting pushed out from the only place they can do business. A bill now in Congress would provide federal funding to coastal and Great Lakes states to help preserve and protect working waterfronts. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) urges boaters and anglers to contact their members of Congress to co-sponsor and support H.R. 2548, the “Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act of 2009.”
Introduced in May by Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-ME) and cosponsored by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), the legislation would allow local governments to use federal grant funds to purchase a threatened marina outright or a non-profit group could obtain a grant to buy development rights in order to keep a working boatyard in business, rather than see it sold for residential development.
In introducing her bill, Rep. Pingree said, “Water dependent, coastal-related, businesses are economically and culturally important places to many coastal communities and working waterfronts are quickly disappearing under the tremendous pressures from incompatible uses,” she added. Passage of H.R. 2548 would be particularly timely in that it would amend the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, now up for congressional reauthorization.
Grants made under the Pingree bill must “provide for expansion or improvement of public access to coastal waters” and be matched at 25% by non-federal funds. The act would authorize $25 million, $50 million and $75 million to the states over three successive years. To be eligible for grant funding, a state would have to develop a working waterfront plan and appoint an advisory committee to oversee the program. “That would put decision making where it should be, closer to the people and the businesses that depend on the waterfront in a given state,” said BoatUS Assistant Vice President of Government Affairs Ryck Lydecker.
For more information on the bill as well as suggestions for writing your member of Congress, go to www.BoatUS.com/workingwaterfronts.