Oak Bluffs Conservation Commission approves fishing pier permit

A proposed public fishing pier to be built with state funds in Oak Bluffs reeled in the last local permit from the Oak Bluffs Conservation Commission (ConCom).

The Oak Bluffs ConCom held a public hearing on the fishing pier on December 7 and issued a permit known as an “order of conditions” on December 10 under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act and the Oak Bluffs Wetlands Bylaw, conservation agent Liz Durkee said this week.

The project still requires a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a Department of Environmental Protection Chapter 91 license, according to Douglas Cameron, assistant director of the state’s Department of Fishing and Game’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access (FBA).

The completion of the ConCom process, the last step in the local approval process, clears the way for finalizing those applications, which were already filed, Mr. Cameron said.

“We are in the final design phase right now, making sure everything is actually sized to meet the various loads and weather we’re designing for,” he added. “The final design would result in preparation of construction documents to go out to bid. Although we don’t have a time for actually bidding out the job, we would like to have everything done so that when funding does become available, we’re ready to go.”

The FBA partnered with the town of Oak Bluffs on a proposal to construct and maintain an L-shaped, pile-supported, handicapped-accessible pier. The structure would be located off Sea View Avenue Extension and extend 317 feet into Nantucket Sound north of the Steamship Authority’s pier.

The fishing pier project will tie in with plans by Oak Bluffs to redo the seawall, boardwalk, and restrooms on the north side of the SSA pier. The town has contracted with CLE Engineering to do the work, including the fishing pier, once approved.

Under the terms of a land management agreement signed with Oak Bluffs in 2007, the state will be responsible for 100 percent of the cost of the fishing pier’s design, permitting, and construction, estimated at $750,000 to $1 million. Construction may be one to two years away. Oak Bluffs agreed to be responsible for day-to-day operations and maintenance, public safety and policing, but no capital expenses.

The Oak Bluffs ConCom referred the pier project to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), because any development in the ocean triggers the commission’s review as a development of regional impact. The MVC unanimously approved the fishing pier on November 18.