Former Mass. Senator Awarded Boating-Access Award
January 20, 2011
The nation’s leading boating-advocacy group, BoatUS, has awarded its 2010 Recreational Boating Access Award to former Massachusetts state senator Michael Morrissey. Morrissey received the award for ensuring passage of 2 bills that would allow boat clubs on publicly leased state land to continue offering access to the state’s boating public.
The following is from the BoatUS press release:
In a state where recreational boating has gotten a black eye, one state Senator knows the real story. Contrary to perception, most Bay State boaters are not wealthy, and many look to their local boat or yacht club—located on publicly leased land—to help them affordably store and enjoy their boats with family and friends.
Unfortunately, maintaining these waterfront facilities is expensive and when it came time for repairs or improvements, banks were unwilling to finance these self-help projects due to the state’s short-term leases on the land, often less than five years. Adding to the problem, with the lease terms so short, lease payments were effectively increased as much as 500% over 5 years in some cases.
“Senator Morrissey has ensured the future of Massachusetts’ boat and yacht clubs as a place for the state’s families to enjoy boating.”
That’s when former Senator Michael Morrissey, a life-long boater, knew he had to act. For his work in introducing and seeing the successful passage of Massachusetts House Bills 4252 and 4346 (as well as Senate versions), which allow the Massachusetts state Department of Conservation and Recreation to offer more stable leases of up to 30 years, BoatUS is honoring him with a 2010 Recreational Boating Access Award.
“The hardest part was convincing my colleagues that most yacht clubs are used by ‘average Joes’ with small boats,” said Morrissey, who recently ended his 17-year run in the Senate. “They hear the word ‘yacht’ and right away picture well-dressed rich people on big, expensive boats, when nothing could be further from the truth. These are not exclusive clubs; many were facing a slow death or eviction. You simply can’t function from one year to the next with a short lease.”
Recent boating industry data shows that 95% of boats on the water today are less than 26 feet in length, and approximately 75% of boat owners have a household income under $100,000 annually.
“Boaters don’t mind paying their way, but they need stability,” said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. “Senator Morrissey has ensured the future of Massachusetts’ boat and yacht clubs as a place for the state’s families to enjoy boating.”
Senator Morrissey also acknowledged that the Massachusetts Boating and Yacht Club Association provided valuable assistance in passing this legislation.
BoatUS created the award program in 2007 to highlight successes in protecting water access as boaters and communities were losing marina slips, service yards and boat launching areas. The goal is to draw national attention to innovative solutions and share success stories so that others may help to solve their own waterway access challenges.
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