Fishing pier in Padanaram could be funded by state grant

Jul 8, 2019

Fishermen could have a new pier to cast a line out into Padanaram Harbor, paid for entirely by the state.

At the July 8 Select Board meeting, the board voted unanimously to send a letter of support for a state grant to build a new fishing pier off of the Padanaram causeway.

By signing and sending the letter, the board has positioned the town in a “queue” for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries’ Public Access Small Grant Program. It funds projects to expand and improve access to saltwater fishing in the state. 

The grant is competitive, and has a lengthy wait list. Town officials estimated it could be about five years before the town is awarded money from the state to fund the project. 

The state would take over all elements of the project, from site work and design to engineering and construction, according to Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes. 

The state would also pay a portion of upkeep of the pier, but the town would be responsible for other, more general maintenance and upkeep funding. 

Once the town is awarded grant money, a feasibility study will be commissioned to determine where and how to build the pier, before construction begins. 

As the town waits, Director of Development Deborah Melino-Wender noted there are things town officials must consider before proceeding with the pier, including a proposed location, boat, pedestrian, and vehicular traffic impacts, parking, bathrooms, day to day maintenance, and maintenance and upkeep costs. 

“I think it has some good potential but I just want to make sure we’re all aware of some of these issues, and start to work together on how we can solve these,” Melino-Wender said. 

Select Board member John Haran noted with a five-year waiting list, there is a large window for town departments to work together to answer all of those questions.

Plans for a fishing pier in Padanaram have been floated for years by the Waterways Management Commission. Its members had proposed the fishing pier to provide a dedicated,safe space for fishing.

In 2018, the commission made it a priority once the recently renovated Padanaram causeway was reopened following a two-year rehabilitation project. 

Currently, fishing is permitted on portions of the causeway, and concerns about the risks of casting lines to passing pedestrians, trash and debris, and accommodating pedestrians with pets or strollers on sidewalks shared by fishermen re-emerged as people began using the causeway again.

At an October 29, 2018 meeting, the commission unveiled a sample rendering of what a fishing pier could look like. Commission members shopped the idea around the local business community and town boards for feedback. 

In 2019, the idea was fully incorporated into the Padanaram Harbor Management Plan, a guiding document of proposals to improve the harbor and the land around it.