The Steamship Authority has agreed on a design concept for the new Woods Hole terminal.
The board approved the plan at their meeting last week in Nantucket, settling many aspects of a debate over terminal reconstruction that has spanned the last year.
“For the Steamship Authority, this concept seems to be the best fit for everything,” said Wayne C. Lamson, general manager of the boatline.
The design for reconstruction of the old terminal, which was built in the late 1950s, features three ferry slips and a roomier two-story terminal building and responds to flood plain zone building requirements.
The board has reviewed several design options for the new terminal, finally settling on a concept which responds to concerns about terminal accessibility. To do so, they shortened the distance between the terminal building and customer drop-off and pick-up, and relocated the vehicle staging area to approximately the same place it occupies now.
Consensus now reached, Bertaux + Iwerks architects will create a three-dimensional model of the terminal and produce a cost estimate for the project. Mr. Lamson said the plan is probably the cheapest of all the options considered by the board, some of which called for elevated passenger walkways and further raising of the property.
The property is currently about eight feet above sea level. Any significant modification to the current building requires compliance with the flood plain zone. The first floor of the terminal building will have to be built at a minimum of 13 feet above sea level, with a ramp built for access.
The SSA is going to look into securing a variance for the flood plain requirement, but the initial response from the state indicated that such a waiver would be unlikely, Mr. Lamson said.
The week before the meeting, boatline managers met with about 30 Woods Hole residents to discuss the terminal concept. The stakeholders present at that meeting seemed more comfortable with this plan than previous concepts, Mr. Lamson said.
“There were a lot of questions that were asked, but we didn’t get the type of negative comments that we had received at earlier meetings,” Mr. Lamson said.
One of the principal concerns of village residents has been the impact of the elevated terminal on the view of the harbor when entering the village.
Mr. Lamson said the single-story building takes up less of a footprint, opening up a view of the water on both sides. The building must be large enough to accommodate a waiting room, ticket office and rest rooms that serve the entire visiting public of Woods Hole, he said.
Permitting for the terminal could take up to 18 months, so construction probably will not begin until fall of 2016 at the earliest, Mr. Lamson said. He estimated that it will take three winters to complete the work.
In other business at the meeting, the board discussed possible names for the new ferry currently being designed in Seattle, Wash.
After vetting names submitted by the public and boatline staff, the vessel naming committee has narrowed the list to four: Island Spirit, Quissett, Vineyard Sound and Woods Hole, according to a written summary of the meeting.
The board will next meet at the Katharine Cornell Theatre at 9:30 a.m. on July 15. They expect to choose a name for the new ferry at that meeting.
Also this month, the county commissioners reappointed Marc Hanover as the Vineyard Steamship Authority governor. He has filled the role for 11 years.
Mr. Hanover told the county commission that he planned to continue serving on the board “until it stops being enjoyable, until I stop learning.”