Steamship Authority Discusses Woods Hole Terminal Design with Selectmen

FALMOUTH – At their recent meeting, Falmouth selectmen pushed for the Steamship Authority management to adjust its building plans to reflect residents’ opinions.

“The issue that we are coming up with is to come up with an acceptable terminal building design and that’s proven to be very challenging at this point to say the least,” Steamship Authority general manager Robert Davis said.

“We are trying to work at what we can accomplish to making this a building the village will be happy with and fit in with the character of the village.”

Selectmen Douglas Jones asked if this meant the Steamship Authority is open to changing the design based on community feedback.

“What really worries the Town of Falmouth is seeing the Steamship Authority use the enabling act to do what they want,” Jones said during the meeting.

“The Steamship Authority can do better by the town, and I hope they will.”

Davis said such considerations are limited by the realities of the site.

“There are some constraints based on that property,” Davis claimed, noting any design must consider the flood zone.

Due to the flood zone, the building must be built 17 feet above the water level.

The Steamship Authority plans to flood proof the building and seek a variance allowing them to reduce the height requirement to 13 feet.

Jones noted the Falmouth zoning bylaw, which prohibits buildings over 35 feet tall.

Davis recognized the bylaw, but said to build a building with the bylaw in mind would require either expanding the buildings footprint or relocating certain rooms into a second building.

“We have looked at this multiple times already, but we are looking at what functions in the second floor can be relocated into the utility building,” Davis said.  

Davis said the Steamship Authority is looking at other options as well, including rotating the building 180 degrees, lowering the roof line over the waiting room, and moving the building to an alternate location on the site.  

“Two Million passengers come and go through that facility and we need to make sure that we are providing a safe and secure operation in that regard,” Davis continued. 

Selectmen Susan Moran said the Authority’s report lacked a formal presentation or Power Point and recommended they return with designs and concrete ideas, which would enable the board to provide better input on the plans.

Kathryn Wilson, Falmouth’s representative to the Steamship Authority Board of Governors, said while the process has been challenging, the communication process is getting better.

She said that while the delay is problematic for the project, it gives the board of governors the opportunity to build a better building.

Discussion on the terminal design is still ongoing in the Town of Falmouth.

About Luke Leitner

Luke Leitner grew up in Watertown Massachusetts and now lives in West Yarmouth on the Cape. He has been a part of the news team in the CapeCod.com News Center since the spring of 2019. He studied business communications at Western New England University.



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