The Martha’s Vineyard Commission opened a public hearing this week on a large, complicated project to redevelop the Tisbury Marine Terminal into a vessel staging facility for Vineyard Wind – with the potential to broadly transform Vineyard Haven’s half-mile stretch of working waterfront.
Under review by the MVC as a development of regional impact (DRI), the proposal looks to repair and alter existing marine infrastructure at R.M. Packer’s wharf to support the development of offshore wind, including the construction of new bulkheads, piers, vessel berthing areas, a public walkway and more than 70,000 square feet of underwater dredging. The area proposed for development is nestled on the harbor in the outer reaches of Beach Road,
Vineyard Wind – an offshore wind development company – has received federal approval to build a 62-turbine, 800-megawatt wind farm about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
While construction operations for the wind farm will be mainly staged from New Bedford, Vineyard Wind has long planned to base its maintenance operation on Martha’s Vineyard, proposing about 40 salaried jobs.
The eclectic waterfront property is owned by Vineyard Haven businessman Ralph Packer and currently used as a marine terminal for Packer Marine barging operations. Vineyard Wind will lease the property from Mr. Packer. The southern portion of the property is a small stretch of undeveloped beachfront, home at various points to everything from wooden scow vessels to sea glass and rubble.
According to testimony Thursday and the application submitted to the commission, Vineyard Wind is also in discussion to purchase part of the former Hinckley’s lumberyard property at 61 Beach Road to house its operations and maintenance building, as well as units for workforce housing.
“We do have an option to purchase a portion of the property at 61 Beach Road. We’re in the early stages of putting the conceptual design together for that,” said Vineyard Wind technical development manager Jack Arruda at the hearing. “We look forward to providing you with a DRI specific to that property . . . hopefully by the end of the year.”
The lumberyard was demolished in 2018 after falling on hard times, and the property was purchased by a group of Island developers. But proposed projects for the site have stalled, partly due to wastewater limitations because the town sewer plant is at capacity, and engineering challenges at the site, which sits at sea level.
The Vineyard Wind marine terminal project includes two main parts: the northern portion of the property would remain home to Mr. Packer’s barging operation, with improvements planned, while the southern portion would be broadly redeveloped to accommodate a staging area to service the offshore wind farm.
The development would add three new vessel berths, designed to service a 1,600-megawatt wind operation, a nearly 40,000 square foot pile-supported pier with a 283-foot bulkhead stretching into the Vineyard Haven harbor, a 186-foot steel landside bulkhead, and a public lookout platform east of the pier deck, with a boardwalk along Beach Road.
Significant dredging would be necessary to complete the marine portion of the project, and the development will need a hefty slate of federal and state environmental approvals, including review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The project also comes as the state Department of Transportation has begun work on its Beach Road improvment project. Project applicants said Thursday they were in close communication with MassDOT and had reviewed the latest iteration of their plans for the road.
Vineyard Wind was represented at the hearing by Richard Andre, executive director of Vineyard Power, the Island-based energy cooperative that has partnered with Vineyard Wind, as well as Carlos Peña, a staffer with project contractor Foth Engineering.
The hearing was continued to Sept. 23, when public testimony is expected to begin.
“It’s a complicated proposal, with a lot of moving parts,” public hearing chairman Doug Sederholm said.
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