Waterfield Design Group, in a collaboration with the town of Oak Bluffs, presented plans to introduce a roundabout at the intersection of Sea View Avenue and Circuit Avenue during a Martha’s Vineyard Commission subcommittee meeting Monday evening.
The proposal comes as a modification to the North Bluff Seawall project, which called for the installment of a 720-foot-long corrugated steel seawall and boardwalk from Oak Bluffs Harbor to the public fishing pier, and was approved by the MVC and completed in 2016.
According to the application filed with the MVC, the addition of a roundabout and the reorganization of the area’s parking is to “redevelop the vehicle and pedestrian infrastructure in the North Bluff area.” Framed as a “transportation improvement project,” the proposed plans aim to “organize vehicular circulation, shorten waiting times, improve vehicular and pedestrian safety, reduce impervious area, improve stormwater recharge, and beautify the aesthetics of the area to enhance the experience of both ferry passengers and Oak Bluffs pedestrians.”
Tim Wong of Waterfield Design Group — the same company responsible for the design of the Oak Bluffs Circuit Ave. streetscape — told commissioners that the project will involve swapping out existing daily parking on Sea View Avenue for tour bus parking, installation of granite “sitting walls” surrounding new landscapings that will double as stormwater planters located on the harborside of the proposed roundabout, and general revamping of the passenger ferry dock area.
The plan also aims to create a more concise queuing area for passengers traveling on the Island Queen and Fast Ferry, with benches on a concrete “plaza.” The area will feature assorted brick paving, similar to that on Circuit Avenue.
According to the application, the project would “reduce impervious surface area by about 1,500 square feet,” and will entail the placement of new catch basins for stormwater runoff collection. Stormwater will then be directed to the planters where “runoff will be infiltrated and treated by the vegetation.”
The new parking plans will feature dedicated dropoff areas and a taxi stand island, along with reserved parking spaces for the town’s harbormaster, commercial fisherman loading areas, and four-hour and 15-minute parking, although the project would decrease the total number of spots by 17.
The initial plan called for changing Circuit Avenue Extension into a two-way road, in addition to constructing a glass bus shelter near the proposed tour bus parking, but both features were retracted, with the bus shelter deemed to be “unnecessary.”
Conceptual plans for the project had been presented to the town of Oak Bluffs as part of the streetscape master plan in 2016, MVC DRI coordinator Alex Elvin told commissioners. The plan “appears to have been endorsed” by town officials at that time, followed by letters of support from both Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, and State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, and the Oak Bluffs Association in May 2020.
Although Oak Bluffs town administrator Deborah Potter and select board chair Ryan Ruley were present for the meeting, they did not participate in the presentation or discussion. Commissioner Doug Sederholm called the conditions of the existing intersection “problematic,” as it causes “general confusion” when navigating the area, which was met with an overall agreement among subcommittee members.
Commissioners ultimately voted to recommend that the full commission hold a public hearing regarding the proposal.