Updated 8:25 am, Thursday
This summer, Oak Bluffs harbormaster Todd Alexander will no longer have to field a steady stream of complaints from boaters about the lack of available fuel in the Island’s biggest marina. Instead, he’ll be able to point them to the new, town-owned fuel facility, due to open June. The final inspection will take place on June 16 and the facility will be in operation soon thereafter. “We haven’t had reliable fuel here in years,” Mr. Alexander said. “The marina used to have two suppliers, now we have none. The last few years we were wheeling in gas in big containers that we filled up at local gas stations. Every day, I’d get calls from boaters saying ‘What do you mean you don’t have fuel?’”
The new 10,000-gallon facility was slated to open on May 15, but Bay State Regional Controls of Yarmouth Port, contractors for the job, were delayed two weeks due to uncooperative weather on a previous project, according to Mr. Alexander. When completed, one 10,000-gallon tank will be installed underground.
Church’s pier, the longtime monopoly in the marina, has not pumped gas since 2012 when the fire department shut it down after a fuel spill. At town meeting in April 2013, Oak Bluffs voters approved a $426,000 expenditure to fund the long-discussed town-owned facility, which was put on the back burner in the economic downturn. The winning bid from Bay State Controls was $25,000 less than the approved funds.
The marina is one of the biggest income generators for Oak Bluffs. In fiscal year 2014 (FY 14), it brought in $951,012, an increase of almost $20,000 over FY 13. Town officials have expressed a high degree of confidence that the facility will pay for itself in short order. The selectmen will eventually select the fuel supplier.
Mr. Alexander said three people will be trained to work at the facility, which will require one or two more seasonal hires. He expects the depot to stay open until early November. “We’ve been planning this for a long time,” he said. “We think it’s eventually going to be very successful.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that two fuel tanks, not one, would be installed partially above ground and be screened by fencing. One tank will be installed underground.