Parking may sink Chappy boat ramp
The Massachusetts Office of Fishing and Boating Access (OFBA) is willing to build a new concrete boat ramp on Chappaquiddick. But Edgartown selectmen and local residents are not happy with an agency requirement that the town designate eight parking spaces for ramp users.
At a Monday night selectmen's meeting opponents cited the already congested parking situation near the Chappaquiddick ferry landing. The proposed location of the ramp would also mean that vehicles would need to back across the ferry staging line.
Edgartown harbormaster Charles Blair, who applied for state funds to build the ramp after the selectmen approved it, said the concrete ramp is needed so boaters will not get stuck in the sand when trying to get their boats in and out of the harbor at the beach.
Doug Cameron, assistant director of OFBA, a part of the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, attended the meeting to explain why the parking spaces were necessary.
The town wants to construct a concrete launch ramp on the inner harbor side of Chappy Point, next to the ferry terminal staging area. Photo by Susan Safford
"If someone wants to use the boat ramp, he needs a place to park," he said. "It's as important as the structure going into the water." He said the state requires eight parking spaces in conjunction with the ramp.
Selectman Arthur Smadbeck questioned why the existing public parking lot near the ramp could not be used without providing special designations for boaters. He said there would not be enough room for trailers in the lot, which has about 40 spaces. "We would be reducing the parking for people from Chappy," he said.
Mr. Cameron said the parking area would also be used to get boats out of the water in case of a storm. He agreed it is not the best situation to be backing across the ferry line to get to the parking lot.
Town administrator Pamela Dolby also said the lot would probably draw more cars once it is improved. She also said it would require policing.
Selectman chairman Margaret Serpa said she didn't believe the town should restrict the lot when there is insufficient parking now.
"This parking lot is pretty much a disaster," said Terry Forde, Chappaquiddick Island Association president. He said the larger lot and a smaller one near it are usually full from June through the first week in September, forcing many drivers to park along the road. Workers park their vehicles in the lots and taxis are often lined up on the road every weekend to transport wedding parties, he said later.
The association had supported the boat ramp, but with the understanding there would be no additional parking requirements, Mr. Forde said. He said Monday was the first time he heard of the parking lot proposal. "We should consider withdrawing support for the ramp," he told the selectmen. He said he believed his board would back him on the issue.
He also objected to a proposal by town conservation agent Jane Vakonda to consider using Land Bank property or other options for the parking. He said the town owns more land where it could expand the parking.
"I oppose using conservation property," Mr. Forde said. "We'll start a campaign."
The selectmen deferred the parking lot decision while they explore other options.
In another matter, the selectmen decided not to approve the appointment of a member to a screening committee to find a replacement for Winn Davis, outgoing Dukes County manager. The selectmen agreed it is "premature" to act on a replacement while a specially elected charter commission is considering options for the future of the county government.