To the Editor:
Those of us in the Falmouth/Woods Hole community would like to see real results come out of the Steamship Authority public engagement meeting scheduled for Nov. 4 at 5 pm. We face increasing numbers of burdens caused by the Steamship Authority’s terminal reconstruction project in Woods Hole village.
The Steamship Authority has:
- Taken portions of the community’s public waterways for its own use in order to increase its property footprint and build what could have fit in a newly developed off-Cape port
- Destroyed a precious view from the Cowdry Road bridge by installing huge canopies dockside
- Failed to recognize that the Woods Hole terminal area carries far more of the ferry service burden than any other SSA port, a burden that exceeds the 70 percent total weighted vote of the Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard members of the SSA board
- Essentially ignores that there is a community who live and work each day in Woods Hole
- Has not made serious mitigation efforts to protect the residents along Woods Hole Road who are inconvenienced when a boat unloads, facing congestion delays in their daily routines, and waking us at 5 am for a full five months of the year.
Over the past two months, 814 individuals have signed a petition asking for an open, democratic process of review of SSA terminal plans. No matter what we do, because of the voting structure on the SSA board, the two board members from the Vineyard and Nantucket control what happens in a community where they don’t live. Current circumstances are being shaped by a 60-year-old legislative act (the SSA’s Enabling Act) whose authors never envisioned current growth levels, infrastructure capacity, or climate issues.
We live in a time when sustainability at all levels is crucial. We need a vision for the future in place of serving short-term interests. SSA overdevelopment is overwhelming local infrastructure in Falmouth and Woods Hole. When we try to address these matters at SSA public engagement meetings, the authority pays lip service to them, at best.
We are asking the Steamship Authority to provide the Falmouth and Woods Hole communities with a smaller, simpler, and less expensive terminal building than the one now proposed. As evidenced by our petition, there is broad support for changes in the current landside plan for Woods Hole. It is not too late to respond to our concerns about the environment, community character, and public safety.
I hope the SSA will use the meeting of Nov. 4 to scale back on the terminal design plan, consistent with the extensive community input previously communicated to the SSA board and management.