BEVERLY — Improved boat access isn't all that's in store if the Bass River were dredged. City officials said deepening the river could also lead to strides in economic development, especially for commercial boaters working in the area and property owners looking for a boost in value. A meeting is set to take place at City Hall at 4:30 p.m. Thursday to talk about dredging in Beverly and other North Shore communities. Jay Ash, secretary of housing and economic development, along with officials from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs plan to discuss the efforts. This session is one of two — there was one last week in Plymouth that focused on the South Shore. The state is attempting to get a handle on, and learn about, potential dredging needs of the communities, city planner Aaron Clausen said. He said the state is eyeing assistance and funding for these projects. Aside from the public session, Clausen said the city has already been working toward having the river dredged. The city applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge part of the river in 2012. The project also received a $50,000 state grant back in 2013. Clausen said the project has been split into two phases and the permitting is in process. The first phase would deepen the portion of the river north of the bridge on Bridge Street. The second phase would deal with south of the bridge. "It would certainly benefit commercial boaters," Clausen said of dredging the river. "There's a couple of organizations or companies (that) have very significant or sizable operations working right at the mouth of the river." Mayor Mike Cahill said property values in the area along the river would also benefit from the project. "It will increase value because it will improve access up and down the river," he said, adding that boaters now have to pay attention to tides with the threat of the river being too shallow. The city is working on new zoning that would allow mixed-use redevelopment in the area that may include residential. Cahill said the zoning proposal is scheduled to go before City Council this fall.
By Arianna MacNeill firstname.lastname@example.org