Oak Bluffs public fishing pier nears completion

Although the fish have gone south for the winter, the new Oak Bluffs public fishing pier is taking shape and is expected to be ready this spring.
Photo by Ralph Stewart

Although the fish have gone south for the winter, the new Oak Bluffs public fishing pier is taking shape and is expected to be ready this spring.

Doug Cameron, Office of Fishing and Boating Access (FBA) assistant director and deputy chief engineer for the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, said the Oak Bluffs fishing pier is back on track and should be completed sometime this winter. “We’re getting down towards the end,” he said in a telephone interview with the Times. “The framing work is done and we’ve completed most of the decking. We’ll hopefully be done soon. A lot depends on the weather.”

The contract completion date for the pier was October 30. Although Mr. Cameron said in July that he was hopeful the pier could be completed as early as late September, the weather has indirectly played a major role in the delay.

“We had a hard time getting materials delivered to the site because of all the demand from Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “There’s a lot of people rebuilding docks and piers out there.”

When completed, this will be the first pier on Martha’s Vineyard devoted exclusively to fishing. It will also be the first pier of its type in the state’s coastal waters, a place where kids and families can easily go to fish.

The idea for a fishing pier began with the rebuilding of the Oak Bluffs Steamship Authority terminal. The original idea was to incorporate a fishing platform into the pier. That plan disappeared after 9/11, due to security concerns, but not the idea.

In 2007, FBA signed an agreement with the town of Oak Bluffs to cover 100 percent of the cost of a fishing pier’s design, permitting, and construction, estimated at $750,000 to $1 million. Oak Bluffs agreed to be responsible for day-to-day operations and maintenance, public safety and policing.

The pier will extend 317 feet from the seawall and be about 10 feet above the water at low tide. The original design called for the pier to be lower to the water but that was changed after the engineers saw what happened to the Oak Bluffs Steamship Authority pier during Hurricane Sandy, when a good deal of the decking was damaged or destroyed.

The Oak Bluffs fishing pier will incorporate everything FBA has learned about building piers and additional expertise from a consultant hired just for this project.

“We want to make sure the work gets done properly,” said Mr. Cameron. “But we’re making good progress. The last two times I was there they had guys working on Saturdays. They need to get to other projects as well.”