WOODS HOLE – A skeptical crowd filled the Woods Hole Community Hall November 13th to learn about the Steamship Authority's plans to reconstruct the Woods Hole Ferry Terminal. The Authority is looking to address problems related to boat slips and pedestrian safety, while also improving accessibility and meeting flood zone requirements.
Chris Iwerks, of Bertaux-Iwerks Architects, said his firm and the marine engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol conducted a feasibility study, which led them to three possible plans: replacing the current building and parking lot with either a single-level structure; replacing it with a split-level structure; or constructing a two-level structure.
It was the possibility of a two-level structure that generated the most discussion. Out of the three choices, it would be the tallest one, “creating a structured deck to facilitate bus and pick-up/drop-off operations on an upper level (+25’), with the terminal building serving as a gateway to the ferries beyond," according to the architects' feasibility study, which can be found on the Steamship Authority’s website.
The architects said that the improvement plan was not intended to increase current capacity. But people attending the meeting expressed concern that it would indeed generate more freight and road traffic in the area, while also obstructing water views. Some audience members said increases in large truck numbers and other freight traffic destined for Martha's Vineyard should be moved to New Bedford.
Mary Clark, a resident of Woods Hole for 80 years said she enjoys the Steamship Authority’s presence, but trucks are an issue. “It’s part of Woods Hole," Clark said, "(it) makes it livelier, our grandchildren like to watch (the boats) but it’s a bother to have all the trucks. I think that that’s a really major concern.”
Residents had suggestions of their own.
To eliminate the need for a larger building in Woods Hole, one suggestion included moving ticket sales to the off-site Falmouth parking lots, while also using automated, electronic ticket sales. Some residents also said they would like to see alternative ways of bringing people into Woods Hole, possibly with a light rail system.
Residents also were concerned that the current proposals do not address bicycle traffic. The Shining Sea Bikeway, a point of pride for the Town of Falmouth, ends in the current parking lot of the Steamship Authority. Residents say this project would be a good opportunity to improve the bikeway's terminus in Woods Hole, and allow bicycles to more safely merge with traffic.
“Nobody has even tried to make the end of the Bike Path look nice,” said Daniel Gomez-Ibanez of Woods Hole.
The Steamship Authority expressed its willingness to listen to all concerns and consider suggestions. Wayne Lampson, General Manager of the Steamship Authority, said the next steps would take two or three months for the architects to “formulate what a preferred alternative would be.”
No date has been set to revisit the discussion, but comments were welcomed in the meantime, Lampson said.