Plans for a two-story ticket office and a fully operational third slip at the Steamship Authority’s Woods Hole terminal face rising opposition, with two state legislators and the Vineyard Conservation Society entering the fray just before this week’s public SSA meeting at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

After residents from both sides of Vineyard Sound assailed the ticket building design at public presentations in Falmouth and Vineyard Haven last week, Cape and Islands Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Woods Hole) and state Sen. Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo (R-Plymouth) wrote an open letter to the SSA asking that the two-story saltbox with expansive glass and a stone exterior, be redesigned to “look like Woods Hole.”

The 35-foot-tall planned structure would stand 45 feet above its surroundings because the foundation of any new building must be raised above flood plain level. Islanders and Woods Hole residents have both objected to the second story, planned to house the building’s mechanical, electrical, telephone and computer processing equipment along with staff training and break rooms and a pair of offices.

“We heard various comments about the design concept, both favorable and unfavorable,” Steamship Authority general manager Robert Davis told an audience of about 50 Islanders at Tuesday’s meeting in the high school Performing Arts Center.

“We plan on reviewing these comments and then seeing what we can do to minimize some of these concerns.”

“I hope that’s true,” a skeptical Molly Cabral, who opposes the two-story design, told the board and executives during the meeting’s public comment period. “My experience with the Steamship has been, that’s not always true.”

While the terminal building design has drawn the most objections from Woods Hole and Vineyard residents alike, a rising chorus of voices is calling attention to the potential increase in Island-bound cars and trucks represented by the renovations to the third slip. Formerly used as an overnight and maintenance berth, slip 3 is designated to become as fully operational as slips 1 and 2 — raising the specter of a 50 per cent increase in traffic to Martha’s Vineyard.

In a special edition of its almanac email Monday evening, the Vineyard Conservation Society aimed a passing blow at the “size, position, and ostentatious appearance” of the proposed terminal building, but concentrated on the potential increase in Island-bound cars and trucks — and the growth of the SSA’s advertising budget from $1 million in 2015 to $1.3 million this year.

“When the Chamber of Commerce stokes the tourism economy ever hotter they are simply doing their job. But when a quasi-governmental authority, granted monopoly power over ferry transit in exchange for promoting the common good, does the same they are elevating one part of their mission over the rest,” the VCS letter reads in part.

The letter goes on to cite the 1960 enabling legislation that permanently exempts boat line property from state taxes because “the operation and maintenance of the steamship line by the authority will constitute the performance of essential governmental functions.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, about 10 Islanders lined up to address the SSA board of governors and executive staff during the public comment period at the end of the agenda. While some leveled criticism at the building design — “It needs to be smaller, it needs to be cheaper,” said hotelier Josh Goldstein — many expressed concern that the boat line’s increased capacity will overwhelm Martha’s Vineyard with traffic and people.

“I had an awful summer,” said Nicki Patton. “The traffic, the people — West Tisbury had traffic jams for the first time in a long time.” Noting that SSA brass held meetings with Island business representatives, Ms. Patton urged the board to consider other residents as well.

“This summer was unbearable,” she said. “It’s really important the rest of us be heard about what was almost intolerable.”

Suggesting the boat line limit the number of vehicles it carries to Martha’s Vineyard, perhaps by capping how many cars a household may bring, Dean Rosenthal was told the SSA has no legal right to restrict travel.

“Who do you want us to discriminate against?” asked Vineyard governor Marc Hanover. Leon Braithwaite 2nd, a Dukes County commissioner, took his turn at the microphone to back up the board.

“The Steamship Authority is a conveyance for moving vehicles from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard, back and forth,” Mr. Braithwaite said. “There is no way, I feel, legally to limit that.”

Anna Edey also had a suggestion: “Stop advertising,” she told the board. General manager Robert Davis responded that the boat line has competition for passenger traffic from the Hy-Line, Seastreak and Island Queen ferries. (The Steamship Authority also licenses those competing ferries and collects revenue from them.)

Slip 3 renovations and the new ticket building are part of a multi-year, $60 million overhaul of the Woods Hole terminal. A temporary ticket building and waiting room opened in late 2017 to serve travelers until the project is completed.