The Tisbury department of public works last week unveiled an ambitious plan to build a public walkway along both sides of a section of Beach Road spanning the town harbor and the Lagoon Pond.
At a joint meeting with the planning board and the DPW, architect James Weisman of Terrain Associates Architects, presented a conceptual draft for a harbor walk. A town selectman, the executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard commission and harbor management committee members also attended.
At this stage the project is a concept with no cost estimates attached, although DPW director Fred LaPiana admitted it would be “very ambitious and expensive.”
The harbor walk would extend from Wind’s Up to the drawbridge on both sides of Beach Road, covering about 4,000 feet of waterfront, Mr. Weisman said.
At the annual town meeting in April, voters approved $25,000 in Community Preservation Fund monies to be used for developing a concept plan for a Lagoon Pond park.
The DPW and planning board want to create a plan for Beach Road that compliments the state drawbridge project, which includes a public access walkway under the new bridge, a public park in place of the current drawbridge house, and a bike path from the drawbridge to the parking lot on the Lagoon side.
During his presentation, Mr. Weisman said the focal point of the conceptual project is the walkway itself, although it would include a compass rose entrance plaza, a small amphitheatre and a wooden covered bridge on the lagoon side of the path.
“What’s important about the project is that it’s a continuous walk,” said Mr. Weisman. “It’s not Disneyland, or a place where there are shops. What’s important is that there is a continuity of movement along these paths.”
In order to withstand adverse weather conditions, Mr. Weisman proposed a 20-foot-wide concrete walkway be constructed on the harbor side of the road outside the seawall, while a wooden pathway would run along the lagoon side of the road, winding through the grasses and plants, around the perimeter of the parking lot and to the bridge. All walkways would be accessible for people with handicaps.
In his conceptual drawings, Mr. Weisman also included dinghy landings, a fishing pier and benches, as well as access to the water via stepping stones.
“It’s a wasted strip and it’s so much a part of our lives that we don’t notice that it has an opportunity,” the architect said at the end of his presentation.
“I love this,” said planning board co-chairman Henry Stephenson. “It seems to synchronize itself with work that has already started or is being planned. When you look at it piece by piece, you don’t have to do it all at once. These pieces complement each other. As a concept it is really terrific and really quite doable.”
Mark London, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard commission, also was enthusiastic.
“The general concept of providing continuous waterfront access seems great,” Mr. London said. “It’s going to be a lot of money that will have to be phased out . . . It might be a decade or two before it is all finished, but that doesn’t mean you don’t start.”
Mr. London asked that the next step spell out project stages, cost estimates and possible sources for funding.
Town officials hope to engage the state in the project, specifically with repairs to the seawall.
“The big nut for money is getting the state to help with the wall,” said selectman and board chairman Tristan Israel. “The rest of it, I think is monetarily modest. Not insignificant, but doable.”
Mr. Israel questioned some details of the concept plan like the covered bridge and a waterfall.
Mr. LaPiana said the next step will be developing cost estimates.