The hopes for a maritime and environmental studies campus along the Driftway in Scituate inched further along this past month, as the request for proposals (RFP) process closed with only one proposal in hand.
According to Jeffrey Rosen, chairman of both the Marine and Environmental Education Alliance (MEEA) and the group that submitted the proposal, that’s good news. Though if this proposal isn't accepted, the idea will die.
Rosen and his team, comprised of engineers, lawyers, architects, consultants, and contacts at Massasoit Community College, have been working to set this project in motion for the past five years, hammering out the details of expanding Massasoit’s collegiate campus into Scituate in a chance to broaden maritime trade training and environmental learning capabilities.
Securing a spot in Scituate has been the first step.
MEEA is seeking to lease the land from the town for a nominal fee, which required the organization to go through an RFP process with the town.
Whether the town accepts the proposal will be the next hurdle.
“The RFP is clear that if we do not meet all the conditions of the RFP, [the process ends here],” Rosen said. “We believe it’s the town’s intention to build a school like this. The town believes MEEA is a real organization and in evaluating the proposal will determine if that’s the case or not. If they only got one proposal and they don’t accept it, they don’t intend to go forward.”
Scituate’s town administrator couldn’t be reached for comment on the RFP, but if the town does accept the proposal, the two entities will still have to work out the terms of the lease agreement, including some language to bring Massasoit College into the fold.
The groups will then go through the environmental and building permits – “which is no small feat in and of itself,” Rosen said.
All of this has been happening alongside broader fund-raising. According to Rosen, MEEA is planning for a large fund-raiser on March 24, an event which will have both a silent and a regular auction.
Numerous commercial partners, including 3A Marine Service in Hingham – which donated two boats, and Moran Environmental Recovery LLC out of Randolph, have already said they will contribute. Local partners, such as Scituate mural artist Michael Coyne, also will donate some items.
“We’ll be approaching the private industry as well as the educational community and anyone who is interesting about participating in the fund-raiser,” Rosen said. “We are on our way towards raising a substantial amount of [operational funding] – the $200,000 that we need to keep the effort moving forward.”
Rosen is still working on obtaining the $18 million it will take to build the complex itself.
Both US Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) and Representative Bill Keating (D-Quincy) have expressed support, “but given the environment in Washington right now, we do not anticipate in the short term by way of federal grants. We do think that there will be opportunities longer term,” Rosen said.
For now, Rosen and his team are working on obtaining a grant through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.
Much of the money will also be financed through local banks. However, the project needs some substantial base funding before the group can demonstrate that private financing wouldn’t be for naught.
Already, classes intended for the new complex have started to materialize at Massasoit.
According to Rosen, five of the proposed 20 classes at the Maritime Center will be offered in the spring semester at the local college, increasing technology training even before the center is up and running.
“This is already having a positive impact and its already resulting in an educational program being instituted,” Rosen said. “ Massasoit has had these programs for a long time, but they are now expanding their curriculum in this direction because of the partnership we’ve had in the last five years.”
If all goes according to plan, Rosen hopes to see the Maritime College up and running by September 2015.