New boat launch to improve access to Clarks Cove

Jul 15, 2019

After more than a decade, a lonely parking lot on Rogers Street is finally getting a proper destination: A concrete boat launch. 

The town has secured grant funding from oil spill recovery money to build the boat ramp off of the end of Rogers Street into Clarks Cove. Combined with additional funding from the town, construction is anticipated to begin in August and wrap up in September. 

The new boat ramp will replace a rudimentary access point which already exists into the cove. It is covered in sand, rocky, and not very effective. 

It is part of an overall project to redevelop the waterfront area, which was once home to a large oil storage business which contaminated the property.

In the mid-1980s, the town acquired the former oil business through tax title. It was a designed brownfield site — a developable property with environmental contamination. In the mid 2000s, the Waterways Commission had planned to lead the redevelopment of the property to improve quahogging access, but the Conservation Commission took over the project to tie it into a Department of Public Works stormwater project in the area. 

Since the site needed to be capped with asphalt, Environmental Affairs Coordinator Michael O’Reilly explained that was the impetus to bringing an improved boat launch to the Clarks Cove side of Bliss Corner. 

“I figured the best idea was to cap it, and use it for the development of a boat launch ramp at the end of Rogers Street,” O’Reilly said.

The capping project was completed with federal and Community Preservation funding, leaving the area with a parking lot complete with spaces for trucks and trailers for the use of launching boats. 

But the second component of the redevelopment — the boat ramp — was held up for years due to budgeting and permitting issues. 

The Waterways Commission originally applied for a grant from the New Bedford Harbor Trustees Council to fund the project. The Council awards grants to Buzzards Bay communities for resource restoration and open space public access projects, and is funded by the Bouchard Transportation Co., Inc. to compensate for a 2003 oil spill which affected the bay. 

“In reviewing the budget and permitting we found it was pretty inadequate,” O’Reilly said. “We really needed to do a more proper design, and additional permitting was required.” 

After several years of work, the town was granted $136,500 from the Council, plus $40,000 in town funding and a required Chapter 91 waterways license, clearing the way for the project to move forward. 

As the Department of Public Works has since found another solution to the stormwater problem affecting Clarks Cove, construction will only include the boat launch and not the tie-in to the DPW project. 

O’Reilly said the order for concrete is being placed now. With an estimated 3-4 week delivery timeframe, construction is anticipated to begin in August. 

“We’re hoping for mid-August to start construction and be done early to mid September,” O’Reilly said.