Oak Bluffs will receive $2 million to install a boardwalk along Sea View avenue extension.
The state Seaport Advisory Council announced Thursday that the town’s public access improvement project was one of 11 seaport community projects chosen to receive funding.
Reached Friday morning, town administrator Bob Whritenour, who wrote the grant and presented the project to state officials, was rejoicing. “It’s awesome, isn’t it?” he said.
The handicapped-accessible boardwalk will stretch from the Steamship Authority dock to the harbor, where the Island Queen and Hyline deposit ferry passengers.
“It’s an important infrastructure development for the town,” Mr. Whritenour said. “Hopefully it will provide joy for the residents and visitors.” The walkway will connect with the fishing pier, which is slated for completion at the end of the month.
The town has been working on the grant for two years. Last spring, Lieut. Gov. Timothy Murray toured the town and listened to members of the town describe erosion and storm damage endured by the North Bluff. But soon after, Mr. Murray resigned, vacating his post as chairman of the Seaport Advisory Council. The funds for port development were transferred to Department of Transportation control, and the town was unsure when the grants would ever come through. “We were really in limbo as to whether there would be adequate funding,” Mr. Whritenour said.
Sea View avenue extension is a high traffic area by both pedestrians and motor vehicles in the summer, as ferry passengers wander along the street toward the harbor. A well-marked pedestrian walkway that hugs the shore will alleviate some of these safety and congestion issues, Mr. Whritenour said.
Combined with an additional $2 million in federal grants targeted for the repair of the seawall along Sea View, the boardwalk will serve as the capstone of a larger restoration project of the North Bluff, Mr. Whritenour said. The two projects will proceed simultaneously, Mr. Whritenour said, and could be completed as early as spring.
“The Oak Bluffs public access improvement project will be a major step in renovating and protecting the downtown shoreline that will complement the restoration of the public restroom facility that has recently been completed, as well as the construction of a fishing pier that is expected to open in the spring,” said Cape and Islands Rep. Tim Madden in a written statement.