SSA vows to work with terminal critics

One ferry failure deemed a mystery by independent consultant.

Carl Walker, director of maintenance and engineering, listens to the proceedings at Wednesday's board meeting for the Steamship Authority.

Former Steamship Authority general counsel Steve Sayers told board members Wednesday that the SSA will “work with the community” to achieve a fully acceptable design for the Woods Hole Terminal.

The Woods Hole terminal plans have been met with criticism for the design, as well as the size of the building. Sayers put forth the idea of holding a workshop format with area residents if need be, to hash out concerns.

The Steamship Authority folded the comments received at and after those events into categories and produced a draft handout. Relocation of the terminal building, shrinking the terminal building floor space, and eliminating the second story of the terminal building were popular comments.

Sayers told petitioner and frequent SSA critic Nat Trumbull that even if the second story was eliminated from the terminal building, the one-story structure would still be so high in order to meet code that it would obstruct water views much the same as a two-story building would.

Trumbull turned in a petition with more than 400 signatures and comments objecting to the new terminal.

Falmouth selectmen Doug Jones told Sayers the Steamship Authority needed to do a better job of looping in his board on how the terminal will be shaped.


Consultant behind schedule

General manager Robert Davis told the board that the independent consultant tasked with evaluating several aspects of the Steamship Authority told management it was behind schedule, particularly with the public communications portion of its report.

“The good news,” Sayers said, “is that around Dec. 7, hopefully around that time, we will be getting their final report.”

Sayers said the Steamship Authority has no idea what the report will contain. The special meeting to unveil the report has been scheduled at the Falmouth Public Library on Dec. 17 at 4 pm. John Sainsbury, head of the independent consulting firm HMS, will be present, Sayers noted.

Sayers said the Steamship Authority hopes to make the report public ahead of the meeting. However, he said, when Steamship Authority brass first get the report they will have to vet it for content that cannot, for various reasons, be disclosed.

In a brief interview before the board went into executive session to discuss, among other things, litigation regarding the MV Martha’s Vineyard and litigation regarding the recently built offices at the Palmer lot, Sayers said control panel problems aboard the MV Woods Hole were analyzed by the independent consultant but didn’t make the cut for the report.

“One of the incidents that HMS identified to do a root-cause analysis of was the MV Woods Hole control panel alarm code issue that we had at the end of March,” he said.

Conversely, the soft grounding of the Woods Hole that occurred in Vineyard Haven will be part of the report.

“They did have a root-cause analysis done of that,” he said and added it was discussed at a video conference. “We clarified some of the preliminary factual findings we had. And we provided them with a timeline of that incident which everyone, all 14 participants in that video conference, agreed upon.”

Concerning the other incident, “The panel was giving alarms even though there was nothing going on with the equipment — sort of false alarms,” he said.

HMS analyzed the Steamship Authority’s response and considered what could have been done differently. “Ironically, they concluded we couldn’t have done anything differently,” Sayers said. “We did everything that they would have done, and they could not figure out the cause of the alarm.”

He went on to say, “We gave them reports Prime Mover Controls gave us — everything they’d done. We’d replace certain things. Those were also those size-of-a-dime valves … And they said the causal factors tended to point to a no-fault situation where regardless of the action taken, the alarm was unavoidable and the action taken was appropriate given the circumstances.”

So that incident won’t make the final report. “They dropped it because we weren’t going to learn anything from that,” he said.

At the start of the meeting, Davis informed the board that the source of an “extremely unpleasant” smell at the Jay Cashman jobsite in Woods Hole was organic matter and “creosote-treated” pilings excavated as part of the terminal project.

In a weekly update by project manager Bill Cloutier sent out last week by spokesman Sean Driscoll, Cloutier reported that Green Environmental was asked to evaluate the odors as a hazard, and found no health concerns.

In that same report, Cloutier said a sheen spotted in the water Saturday near the Naushon Trust property is believed to be from those creosote piles. “At the request of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, we placed extra booms in the water to absorb the sheen,” the email states.


Comments are closed.