EASTHAM — Rock Harbor is in line to receive additional upgrades starting in March. Shana Brogan, the town’s conservation agent, told the harbor planning committee on Oct. 17 that the state will begin with improvements to the parking area and boat ramp.
Voters approved a $1.3 million Rock Harbor improvement plan at a 2018 town meeting. The first stage, which happened earlier this year, was the construction and installation of new docks and floats at the harbor.
In March the parking lot, which is state-owned, will be repaved. A newly installed rain garden will improve drainage, and the boat ramp will be replaced and raised to alleviate flooding. Brogan said the work will be done on or before June 1.
Brogan reported that the Mass. Public Access Board has put the project out to bid and will start preparing the site in December before it gets too cold.
Meanwhile, the town’s harbor planning committee continues to develop a harbor and waterways management plan in coordination with UMass Boston’s Urban Harbors Institute. In February the state’s Seaport Economic Council awarded Eastham an $80,000 grant to help fund the plan, which is designed to encompass Collins Landing, Hemenway Landing, and Salt Pond Landing as well as the waterways of Rock Harbor, Town Cove, and Nauset Marsh.
At the town’s second harbor planning forum over the summer, Adam Finkle and Joel Kubick of the Woods Hole Group (WHG) detailed findings from an engineering and environmental assessment they conducted.
The assessment determined that Collins, Hemenway, and Salt Pond landings are in need of the most upgrades in terms of infrastructure, parking, and accessibility.
WHG assessed the infrastructure of each landing site and Collins Landing received the worst grade.
Collins Landing, primarily used for commercial shellfishing, needs storm water improvements, better parking, better accessibility, and repairs to the retaining wall and boat ramp.
Hemenway Landing has greater capacity for parking and is used by a more diverse group of commercial fishermen, shellfishermen, recreational boaters, and kayakers. It has a more solid infrastructure, according to the study.
Salt Pond Landing offers limited parking, no storm water collection, and difficult ramp access for boaters who use the site. The retaining wall is in better shape than the one at Collins Landing, but it shows some signs of cracking and accessibility is difficult.
An infrastructure grading assessment, based on the American Society of Civil Engineers infrastructure report card grade scale, gave Collins Landing a “C” in the capacity, condition, and public safety categories.
But all sites are in need of fixes — the Eastham shore of Rock Harbor received a “C” in the category of coastal resilience.
While the state’s spring project will improve the parking lot and boat ramp at Rock Harbor, residents have voiced other needs at the site like a maintenance dredging plan, attention to marsh health, and even a possible entertainment venue.
The venue could help foster another idea to expand business and tourism by creating more waterfront destinations in town.
At the harbor planning committee’s most recent meeting on Oct. 17, committee members agreed the plan needs to focus on improving the infrastructure as a whole at all town landings.
Along with acting on recommendations from the WHG assessment, the committee also suggested improvements that would expand access for vehicle traffic, improve ADA accessibility, increase usability for both recreational and commercial boaters, and enhance the marketing and branding of the town’s commercial fishing operations.
The next committee meeting is scheduled for Nov. 21.