By Gregory T. Federspiel
A wet and cold spring has caused the construction season to get off to a slow start. After numerous weather delays, we were finally able to pave the stretch of School Street that was dug up last fall for the new drainage line. And the parking lot at Masconomo Park was repaved thanks to voter approval of Community Preservation funds for this needed improvement. Line stripping and crosswalk painting will take place in the coming weeks. With the repairs completed to Morss pier and the adjacent seawalls, this area is ready for the busy summer season.
Work to repair the stone revetment along Singing Beach got underway using our local matching funds but, due to a delay in paperwork, is on hold pending final sign-off by FEMA. The good news is that FEMA is paying for the bulk of the repairs but we will miss the deadline of getting the work done by Memorial Weekend. The work should be completed in June.
The new, expanded floats at Reed Park will be ready for use shortly. These floats are designed for transient boaters who will reserve time and pay for their use through an on-line app. Revenues generated will be added to the waterways fund. The fund, comprised of mooring and other water permits fees, allows our harbor operations to be funded without the need for taxpayer support. Harbormaster Bion Pike secured a grant for the majority of the cost of the expanded floats. The tall pilings are a design requirement that ensure the safety of the docks even in storm surge events.
Upcoming construction work later this year will include relining the sewer pipe along the inner harbor and in other areas in town. Also, replacement of undersized water lines will take place along Magnolia Avenue, Ocean Street and Raymond Street. Construction updates can be found on the Town’s web site under DPW.
While still a few years off, plans for the next phases of harbor dredging are being developed. As part of the dredging work, a re-examination of our mooring fields and the greater use of fore and aft moorings to provide safer and higher utilization of the harbor along with needed infrastructure for our small but vibrant fishing fleet will be undertaken.
The harbor is one of the Town’s biggest assets and a central part of our history. The local marinas are amongst our largest private employers and thus at the heart of our local economy. Visiting boaters patronize local businesses. How we manage and care for the harbor is critical to our future and will require careful thought as we look forward. The interface of the harbor with our village area will likely change over time, especially in light of rising sea levels and more intense storms.
During the summer season, many of us will be out on the water enjoying the harbor and surrounding areas. Following the recommendations of the Harbor Advisory Committee and voter support for the funding (using waterway funds), Selectmen have approved a greater safety presence on the water. In addition to the Harbor Master being out on patrol, a new public safety boat, acquired through a low cost surplus sale from the Coast Guard, will allow weekend police presence out on the water, primarily at the mouth of the harbor. The emphasis will remain on educating boaters on water safety to ensure all who enjoy our wonderful water resources will return to port accident free.