Waterways Commission sets its harbor plan priorities

Jun 26, 2019

Nearly two months after it was adopted, town officials are making sure the proposals in the Padanaram Harbor Management Plan become a reality.

At its June 25 meeting, the Waterways Management Commission weighed in on what members’ top five priorities to work towards implementing. 

It follows a previous meeting, in which Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes said he was seeking input to plot the next steps of the plan from various town boards and committees. 

The commission voted unanimously to send a list of five recommendations to the Select Board to consider. 

At the top of the priority list: Establishing an implementation committee. The plan itself only contains a long list of specific policy changes, proposed projects, and initiatives. It is up to the town to implement the plan, but there is currently no central authority tasked with devising an implementation plan. 

The commission recommends forming the implementation committee with a cross-section of elected and town officials and community stakeholders to implement the plan. 

Second is to conduct an economic study of Dartmouth’s waterfront activities, to put a dollar amount on just how much money moves through the town due to its waterfront every year. Commission members noted data on the economic value of the harbor will be key in securing state funding and grants to implement the plan’s more costly proposals. 

With a formal town-gown partnership between UMass Dartmouth and the town, commission member Roger Race said he plans to approach the university about having graduate business students conduct the study. 

A fishing pier off of the Padanaram causeway made it to the commission’s third priority. The idea, intended to provide a dedicated spot in Padanaram village for fishing, was first unveiled in 2018. The state Division of Marine Fisheries operates a grant program for improving access to the water for fishing, which could be utilized. 

The commission wants to see security addressed along the waterfront, and listed that as the fourth priority area. A new public maritime center just opened to the public, and past incidents of vandalism and damage to town-owned Dias Landing have been reported. 

Finally, the commission wants to carry out a recommendation to streamline and improve coordination in the town’s water-related permitting process like docks and piers.