Gov. Baker greenlights way for New Bedford to build industrial park at city golf course

February 7, 2022 : The Standard-Times, by Linda Roy

NEW BEDFORD — Gov. Charlie Baker has greenlighted the city’s plan to convert almost half of its municipal golf course into an industrial park.  

On Thursday, Baker signed a bill filed by Sen. Mark Montigny that would allow the city to construct a 21st century advanced manufacturing campus on the site.  

In order to construct the new manufacturing campus, state law required the city to place conservation protection on open land of similar acreage or value to the current golf course space slated for development. 

In March 2021, Montigny filed a bill that would allow the city of New Bedford to convey certain land acquired for open space and playground purposes. It would place 156 acres of city-owned land located along Woodcock Road in Dartmouth into conservation protection. The property, which also accommodates the New Bedford Police gun range, has been owned by the city since 1916.

It's Request for Proposal Time

While the land conveyance matter was slowly making progress, Derek Santos, executive director of New Bedford Economic Development Council, said all the other aspects of the project were being address — planning, zoning, environmental, and a draft request for proposal (RFP).

"There were literally dozens and dozens of people working on this," Santos said.

He said funding to get the project this far was paid for by grants from MassDevelopment's Site Readiness program. According to the MassDevelopment website, the city was granted $400,000 to complete Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency permitting, an American Land Title Association survey, and other associated costs with creating an overlay zoning for the site.

The next step, Santos said, will be the City Council Planning Committee meeting to review the draft RFP and draw up a final version.

Once the RFP is finalized, the city can then solicit developers interested in purchasing the nearly 157-acre parcel for an advanced manufacturing site. 

Santos said city officials will continue to work with MassDevelopment to make sure the RFP goes out to a wide audience of qualified developers. He said he's already fielded a couple of inquiries from developers since the city has everything in place.

"This is a high-valued piece of property," Santos said, adding the bar is set very high and only the best qualified developers will be considered.