MVC issues written approval on North Bluff seawall project

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Selectmen voted unanimously to accept a new bid from Northern Construction for the North Bluff seawall restoration project. — File photo by Michael Cummo

On Tuesday, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) issued its formal written approval of the North Bluff seawall/boardwalk project in Oak Bluffs.

The $5.6 million project, a corrugated steel seawall and wood plank boardwalk, will run from Oak Bluffs Harbor to the public fishing pier.

The MVC approved the project with a voice vote on January 7 after a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) review, which involved two lively public hearings in December.

Commissioners acknowledged aesthetic concerns about the corrugated steel seawall. However, they were in concert that the project, which is intended to protect the eroding bank, should move ahead.

The approval came with several conditions.

Lighting on the boardwalk may not go higher than eye level on Seaview Avenue extension, and will be timed to work from dusk until dawn. The species of plants used in the landscaping plan will have to be approved by the MVC Land Use Planning Committee (LUPC).

A maintenance plan will also have to be submitted. Project engineer Carlos Pena stated at a public hearing that maintenance of the seawall/boardwalk will cost about $7,000 a year.

The MVC decision states that the Oak Bluffs planning board can place additional conditions on the project. The planning board referred the project to the MVC as a DRI to allow for public input, which the board unanimously felt was lacking.

In a conversation with The Times on Wednesday, chairman Brian Packish said the planning board had no intention of adding any conditions. “Everybody seemed happy with the fact that the public [comment] process occurred and as a result, more information became available,” he said. “That additional information will help with accountability down the road.”

A large crane is scheduled to be set up next week, and construction is due to start in earnest the week of February 8, according to a memo from project manager David Lager of Lexington-based Netco. The project is expected to be completed by June 30.