By Sam Doran
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MAY 30, 2017…..There could be state money coming down the pike for Plymouth’s 400th anniversary, along with more road signs to guide tourists from Route 3 toward historic sites in downtown Plymouth, if a Senate budget amendment for America’s Hometown sticks in conference talks.
The Sen. Vinny deMacedo budget amendment, adopted by the Senate last Thursday, calls for $200,000 to fund Plymouth 400, Inc., a nonprofit organization planning celebratory events for the town’s quadricentennial. The funding would be conditional on Plymouth 400 raising an equal amount in private donations.
That would split the difference between the $500,000 initially requested by Rep. Mathew Muratore during House budget debate, and the $50,000 ultimately sealed into the House budget by Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey.
The Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office would also receive $60,000 under the Senate proposal, to potentially spend on new signs for historic sites on the way into downtown Plymouth, “distinctive plaques” for registered downtown properties, development of a walking tour, and listing the replica ship Mayflower II on the National Register of Historic Places.
As owners of historic properties in downtown Plymouth spruce up their homes for the big celebration in 2020, the secretary’s office could also implement a small 50/50 matching grants program to “enhance the appearance” of registered sites, according to the amendment.
“This actually is an amendment that we filed last year, but as many of you know, it was tough fiscal times, and through the challenges, it’s still challenging fiscal times,” deMacedo said on the floor last Thursday.
“The problem that we have here, though, is 2020 is approaching,” the Plymouth Republican said. He pointed to an approaching wave of tourism and commerce as people come “from all over the world” to see what happened in Plymouth in 1620.
“Because when these people come here, they’re going to need places to stay, they’re going to need places to eat, they’re going to visit our cultural centers,” deMacedo said.
Those visitors could potentially include members of the British royal family and President Donald Trump.
“Hopefully the president or vice president, whoever that may be at the time,” Muratore told the News Service earlier this month.
deMacedo said all that regional tourism will make the anniversary “such a huge success, and I think it’s going to put not only America’s Hometown, but the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts on the map.”
There was no public debate about the Plymouth programs in the House.
Sen. Julian Cyr of Truro cosponsored deMacedo’s amendment. Cyr’s district includes Provincetown, where the Pilgrims first landed in 1620 before moving on to Plymouth. Muratore’s original amendment directed a fifth of the funds to Provincetown events; the Senate amendment did not make that distinction.
Since the House knocked down Muratore’s initial funding request, Plymouth 400 has planned on relying more heavily on private donations. The group recently hired a fundraising staff member, Muratore said.
One of the nonprofit’s ventures is a series of commemorative state license plates. Plymouth enthusiasts have been bidding online on the lowest plate numbers and significant numbers like 1620 and 2020. That auction wraps up Saturday at a live event in Boston.