Ernestina awarded $270,000 in state funds

Standard-Times staff writer
February 27, 2008 6:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD — The schooner Ernestina has been awarded $270,000 in matching grants from the state's Office of Public Private Partnerships, Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny announced Tuesday.

The state funds can be used to match federal grants, including a $500,000 grant from the Save America's Treasures program that the Ernestina won in December.

"To me, every time we chip away like this, it's great news," said Sen. Montigny, D-New Bedford. "But you wake up tomorrow, and the job is still there to continue."

The state funding is a critical step forward, according to Paul Brawley, the Ernestina's executive director, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Hull repairs cost about $2 million; Mr. Brawley is hoping for private donations to put them over the top.

"Now that we have a commitment from the state, it's easier to move forward," he said. "We've gotten the seal of approval from the federal government. We've gotten another seal of approval from our state government."

The repairs and the ongoing maintenance of the schooner needs to represent a partnership between the federal, state and local governments, as well as private organizations, according to Sen. Montigny.

"It's got to exist with all stakeholders making financial commitments. I will remain firmly committed. However, it requires a financial commitment from the city; it requires more participation from organizations like UMass Dartmouth."

The city stands firmly behind the Ernestina and its importance as a symbol of the city's maritime heritage, according to Mayor Scott W. Lang.

"I think the city needs to play a role as far as bringing attention to the fact that this is a very, very unique resource that we have," he said. "I think the city will help in any way we can."

Meanwhile, the work to repair the Ernestina's stem and foredeck should be put out to bid within the next several weeks, according to Mr. Brawley.

"Instead of still being tied to the dock, we're going to get the first phase of repairs under way," he said.

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