SCITUATE — Scituate Town Administrator James Boudreau reports that local and elected officials throughout the South Shore gathered this week to rally against the proposed closure of Scituate’s seasonal Coast Guard station.
On Tuesday, Aug. 31, numerous officials spoke outside the station on Scituate Harbor. Representatives from each of the communities that would be negatively impacted by the station’s closure were present. Joining them were state and federal officials that included U.S. Reps Stephen Lynch and Bill Keating, State Senator Patrick O’Connor, State Senator Susan Moran, State Representative Joan Meschino, State Representative Patrick Kearney, and representatives from Senator Ed Markey and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s offices.
The plan to close the seasonal U.S. Coast Guard station in Scituate — along with three others across the country — was announced by the U.S. Coast Guard in June. Those who spoke at Tuesday’s rally shared a unified message that the closure of the Scituate station would have devastating effects throughout the region.
“Closing this station would no doubt put our citizens at risk, and we feel the Coast Guard’s decision is flawed,” Rep. Lynch said. “We are seeing a growing footprint of activity along this entire coastal area, and the Coast Guard has a meaningful presence and that must remain.”
Many of those who spoke highlighted the fact that every second counts during a water rescue or other emergency response. If the Scituate station closes, the nearest Coast Guard location for many communities would be the station located at Point Allerton in Hull, which could lead to a potential response time of more than an hour for a community as far south down the coast as Plymouth.
“We all have a deep appreciation for the Coast Guard and all that they do, but we see this decision as highly illogical,” Sen. O’Connor said. “When you look at the history and results of this station, you see the absolute demand for this resource to be here on the South Shore. We must continue to raise our voices up at the state level and at the federal level and continue to speak in unity for the importance of what we’re doing here. This isn’t just for the people who live here, it’s for all the people who use this area for recreation, those who fish out of this location commercially, and for everyone else who uses these waters.”
Local officials on hand included:
Town Administrator Boudreau, Plymouth Town Manager Melissa Arrighi, Duxbury Town Manager René Read, Kingston Town Administrator Keith Hickey, Cohasset Town Manager Christopher Senior, Marshfield Town Administrator Michael Maresco, Marshfield Harbormaster Michael DiMeo, and several various Select Board members and other community stakeholders.
The Scituate station is operational from before Memorial Day to just after Labor Day, during the time when the greatest number of people are out in the water swimming or on boats. There are thousands of boats along the coast, and multiple drownings have already occurred off the coast of Scituate this year alone with other emergency responses happening along the entire region. The Coast Guard provides valuable assistance to local first responders during such incidents, as well as providing routine patrols along the coastline throughout the day.
In their official proposal calling for the closure of the four stations, the Coast Guard stated the closures were due primarily to the proximity of the stations to other nearby USCG stations, making those stations slated for closure as “redundant” and “unnecessarily duplicative” when compared to those in the area, a statement which has been heavily refuted by local and elected officials.
In closing, Town Administrator Boudreau reiterated the overall message shared by those in attendance that the closing of the station could lead to dire consequences.
“Our hope is that we are not all gathered here at this time next year honoring the life of someone who was lost in a tragic incident,” he said. “The Coast Guard provides an invaluable resource to the area, and it is one we must fight to keep.”
Reps. Lynch and Keating said they would be looking to speak with Rear Adm. Thomas Allan of the 1st Coast Guard District, which includes Scituate, about the possibility of reserving the Coast Guard’s decision.