Feasibility study could begin long-term harbor revitalization

Oct 8, 2019

With a new maritime center drawing boaters to award-winning Padanaram Harbor, the Dartmouth Waterways Commission wants to keep the momentum of reimaging the waterways and land around it moving forward.

The Commission has gained Select Board approval to apply for an $80,000 Seaport Economic Council grant to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study of the harbor. 

It is one of the Commission’s top priorities to come out of the Padanaram Harbor Management Plan 

The plan, approved in May, contains more than a hundred recommendations — some big and costly, others small and inexpensive — to improve the harbor and surrounding neighborhood of Padanaram.

At the October 7 Select Board meeting, Harbormaster Steve Melo told the board the study would lay the groundwork for future projects and plans to revitalize and renovate the harbor, and is one of the first steps to get the plan off the ground. 

“It is one component of the accepted harbor management plan, to look at opportunities to improve the area,” Melo said. “This would be the piece that will fit into that lare puzzle that is the management plan.” 

Melo said the feasibility study would quantify the economic impact of the waterways to the town and region, examine potential development of the town’s docks and piers, dredging to improve launch ramp areas and approaches, and facility improvements. 

While the study would focus on the entire waterfront and harbor, Melo said the Arthur F. Dias Landing on Gulf Road is of particular interest for its status as being the town’s best public access point to the harbor. 

“It’s a prime location, and I think it’s missing significant opportunities for waterway access,” Melo said. 

The deadline to apply for the grant funding is in November. The Commission will be drafting a grant application to submit to the Select Board for review and final approval. 

In addition to the feasibility study, the Commission is also working on another major goal of the management plan: Establishing a committee to oversee its implementation. Melo said a group of interested people are being formed to bring a committee proposal to the board.