The town of Oak Bluffs has received $1 million in state grant funds to be used for improving critical infrastructure needs and enhancing both transportation and pedestrian access on the North Bluff, according to a press release.
The money comes as part of a more than $7.8 million Seaport Economic Council (SEC) grant initiative announced by the Baker-Polito administration to support 17 maritime projects and waterfronts across Massachusetts.
Planned improvements to North Bluff include adding bus and taxi loading lanes and a rotary, redesigning the queuing area at the Vineyard Fast Ferry terminal, updated wayfinding signage, and building a new shelter for passengers transferring from ferry to bus.
This grant is subject to the approval of town matching funds.
Oak Bluffs planning board chair Ewell Hopkins told The Times he is encouraged that the second phase of the town’s “Streetscape” planning demonstrates the multifaceted nature of planning in town.
“This couldn’t be any more exciting from a planner’s perspective,” Hopkins said. “Down at the end of North Bluff, it has become a giant parking lot, but it is becoming an alternative to the Steamship, and it is Oak Bluffs’ year-round connection to the mainland. The Patriot boat is a critical link to the Cape that can’t be underestimated. So many supplies and workers come through that point of entry.”
Oak Bluffs planner and selectman Brian Packish told The Times in a text message that it is exciting for him to see the efforts of many in town supported by the SEC.
“The planning board and the Streetscape committee have worked tirelessly to bring back the North Bluff Beach and to create the supporting documents to position the town to be eligible for these funds,” Packish said. “We are excited to move into the public outreach phase to begin the creation of construction documents, and ultimately the much-needed infrastructure.”
Through these grants, the SEC will help coastal communities capitalize on their unique assets to advance economic growth, create jobs, and prepare for the impacts of climate change, according to the release.
“Our administration is pleased to make these new investments through the Seaport Economic Council to strengthen the potential that exists in the waterfronts and maritime sectors of the commonwealth’s coastal communities,” said Governor Charlie Baker in the release. “This grant funding and these local partnerships will be important as cities and towns plan for their economic futures while adjusting to a changing climate.”