More dock space feasible for Dias Landing, study says

Jul 28, 2021

Adding dock spaces for about 90 small vessels at Dias Landing on Gulf Road would be feasible and welcomed by boaters, according to study results presented to the Waterway Commission at its July 27 meeting. 

The study was accepted by the Waterway Commission and will next be sent to the Select Board for its consideration, commission members noted.

“Our goal is to give the public more access to our waters,’’ Commission Chair Gerald Hickey said. 

The public showed “strong interest’’ in the project, said Steve Bliven of the Coastal and Wetland Resource Management office. He presented the study results along with Allison Novelly of Urban Harbors Institute.

The feasibility study is the result of Dartmouth’s approval in May 2019 of the Padanaram Harbor Plan. One of the recommendations in the final plan was to determine the feasibility of creating additional boating facilities and secure in-water and landside storage options for watercraft and kayaks. 

It was recommended that the town determine if dockside space could be enhanced for motorboats and dinghies, with the specific consideration of creating a facility at the Arthur F. Dias Town Landing.

Of 140 responses to a survey sent out in connection with the study, 60 percent expressed interest in having slips at that location, Bliven said. 

He acknowledged this was a “small sample,’’ but said the interest was there.

As of Aug. 1, 2020, the town had a wait list of 146 people seeking town mooring. Of that number, 16 vessels were 20 feet long or less, according to the study material.

The proposed additional added slips at Dias Landing would accommodate the smaller vessels, Bliven said. Vessels such as kayaks, including inflatable or hard-shell dinghies and skiffs would be ideal for the space, according  to the report. 

Dockage space for larger vessels would require dredging, which comes with a “prohibitive’’ cost, Bliven said.

Project costs were estimated at between $150,000 and $250,000 for construction and other related maintenance expenses, Bliven said. 

In time, the added slips could bring in $30,000 to $80,000 annually, which would cover annual operational costs and eventually be able to pay back at least a significant portion of the construction costs, the report said. 

One resident, Tom Babington, who said he has been sailing out of the harbor for 35 years, said he “really questioned’’ the cost.

He suggested that smaller vessels could utilize the Maritime Center in Padanaram, which opened two years ago at Elm and Bridge streets. 

Babington added that people have “not taken advantage’’ of the center.

Hickey disagreed, saying Covid may have resulted in a “setback’’ for the center, but the center is “exactly what we want it to be — it’s definitely served its purpose.’’

Commission member Kevin Murphy noted that the maritime center, because of currents and significant boat traffic, can be “problematic’’ for smaller vessels.

Issues remain to be considered at the Dias Landing site, Bliven said, including parking, but he said that none of the outstanding issues should prohibit the project.

The Draft Dias Landing Feasibility Study is available at