Time for SSA to listen to public input


To the Editor:

The Southern Massachusetts Area Regional Transportation group, SMART, comprises people from Woods Hole, Falmouth, the Vineyard, Cape Cod, and elsewhere, concerned about safe, responsible, and reasonable transportation, protecting the environment, and maintaining the aesthetics of the Cape and Islands. It is not opposed to development, only excessive development, which stresses the land, its people, its resources, and the pleasure of being on the Cape and Islands.

SMART is working to encourage the Woods Hole, Vineyard, and Nantucket Steamship Authority, SSA, to consider community input into the reconstruction of its Woods Hole land and sea facilities and related issues. However, the SSA constantly refuses to act constructively. Although rational ideas are presented, even the simplest proposals are ignored without any explanation or merely, “It is not possible.” 

Specific goals include: 

  • reducing the size of the new ticketing building, and focusing on electronic ticketing and an info kiosk
  • moving the building to a location that minimizes the amount of sea view that will be lost if built as presently planned
  • opposition to constructing a new building without concern for blocking the water views from abutters
  • not imposing a design on the village that does not reflect humility, simplicity, and sustainability
  • seeking respect for community input and integration of community ideas for constructing a building compatible with local architectural style and aesthetics 
  • communicating about reducing light and noise pollution
  • preventing early truck arrivals, as early as 4:30 am, and preventing trucks from sitting on public roads, next to residential homes, with their motors idling
  • stopping trucks from speeding and using Jake brakes as they race to the SSA at all times of the day, and providing appropriate compliance for truck approaches to the village 
  • getting the SSA to abide by a Vineyard residents’ vote that the SSA not increase vehicle and truck traffic to the Vineyard above its 1997 level
  • pushing the SSA, which is operating at full capacity, to stop opposing others from initiating shipping to the Vineyard from off-Cape ports 
  • need for communications and community outreach: a consistent protocol for hearing and addressing ideas and for subsequent follow-through
  • fighting the SSA refusal to provide information about its ongoing construction intentions until its plans are 90 percent complete, by when the SSA may claim it will be too late to initiate changes
  • opposition to SSA 5:30 am freight run 
  • attempt to get the SSA to abide by its claim that the third slip would only be used for overnighting boats and their repairs, and claim it would never be used as an active slip, while massively expanding the slip, and now stating it will go into routine active use
  • opposition to SSA spending more than $1.4 million per year on advertising to increases demand for its services, despite claiming it is running at full capacity


It is time for the SSA to deal transparently, as was originally suggested in the HMI Evaluation, accept input from the community, and not act alone on everything. Mr. Davis and the SSA must fully consider and address each question and idea presented, and incorporate them into planning or present irrefutable arguments as to why that is not possible. It is time for the SSA to remember that the enabling act charges it to serve a broad range of civic interests.


Damien Kuffler

Woods Hole