June 16, 2019

Courtney Supports Effort to Dredge Westbrook Harbor with a $500,000 Federal “Earmark”

Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop (on left) with Cong. Joe Courtney and State Senator Eileen Daily celebrating new harbor dredging dollars

“This earmark had wings,” called out an excited Rives Potts at the ceremony to celebrate Congressman Courtney’s $500,000 federal earmark to dredge Westbrook Harbor. The recent ceremony was held at Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook. Potts, the Vice President and General Manager of the marina, will directly benefit from the new dredging of Westbrook harbor.

The Pilots Point Marina has a public, gas dock right in the harbor, and the deeper the harbor is dredged, the greater the number of deep draft vessels can be served by the marina’s gas dock.

Pilots Point Manager Rives Potts gives thumbs up to new federal earmark

In addition to helping a local marina, Town of Westbrook First Selectman Noel Bishop, who chaired the Courtney gathering, saw many other economic development benefits to the Town of Westbrook, when it has a deeper harbor.  The money spent by boat-arriving visitors will help the town “in many, many ways,” Bishop said. He mentioned specifically restaurants, food markets and other local businesses.

An interesting sidelight to the earmark that Courtney ultimately directed to Westbrook is that originally these earmark monies had been directed to new projects in neighboring Old Saybrook. However, with the agreement of Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, who attend the Courtney event, the monies were “reprogrammed,” so that they could be spent on dredging Westbrook’s Harbor instead.

With Senator Daily in center, and sporting a broken ankle, are supporters of the $500,000 federal earmark

Many Old Saybrook boat owners moor their vessels in Westbrook Harbor, so the argument can easily be made that dredging Westbrook Harbor means helping Old Saybrook boaters as well as those of Westbrook.

As for the timetable of dredging Westbrook Harbor, dredging will not actually begin until October of this year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will have overall supervision of the project, and the Corps’ dredger boat, “Currituck,” will be used.  The performance of the actual work will be done by a local Westbrook contractor, Patchogue River Dredging.

According to a number of persons at the ceremony, Westbrook Harbor was last dredged in the early nineties.

$1.1 in state grants for dredging from State Senator Daley 

Although the recent celebration of the Courtney- sponsored $500,000 federal earmark was certainly appropriate, Westbrook State Senator Eileen Daily has already arranged a total of $1,100,000 in Connecticut state funds for dredging Westbrook Harbor.

These state funds were appropriated in two separate implements by the Senator, one for $350,000, and the second for $750,000. Considering the magnitude of these amounts, the Senator must be considered the leader in getting the monies necessary for dredging Westbrook Harbor.

In the Connecticut state legislature Daily holds the powerful position of Chair of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. From this position, especially in the finance area, she can wield considerable power in the choice of funding state projects, as she certain has appeared to have done in the case of dredging Westbrook Harbor.

On hand to celebrate are Westbrook's Noel Bishops, State Rep. Jim Crawford, Cong. Courtney and Pilots Point's Rives Potts

As for the Courtney earmark Daily said, “Congressman Courtney’s federal grant will serve a very useful purpose in the Westbrook Harbor dredging project.” However, when the history of dredging of Westbrook Harbor is written, most likely Daily’s name will be mentioned as the project’s leading fund raiser.

Getting a federal earmark entails a lot of effort

In his remarks at the ceremony Congressman Courtney noted that the official name of the federal earmark program is the “Restore America’s Prominence Act,” and its grants are called “RAPA grants.” Courtney confirmed that getting these grants is an extremely competitive process among the nation’s Members of Congress.

Ed O’Donnell, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s representative at the event said, “Without the dogged help of Congressman Courtney, this money would have gone elsewhere.” A number of others at the Courtney event characterized the Congressman as being. “a dogged sponsor, absolutely unrelenting” in his efforts to obtain the earmark grant.

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