This article originally appeared in the Boston Sunday Globe on May 30, 2019. It was written by Globe Correspondent John Laidler. The photo is an artist rendering of Plymouth's future maritime facility by Chris Doktor of Olson Lewis + Architects.
Construction of a new maritime facility is underway in Plymouth, designed to help the town become more welcoming to visiting boaters and meet other waterfront needs.
Funded with the help of a $1 million grant from the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council, the new $4.5 million building off Water Street will provide dedicated shower, bathroom, and laundry facilities for visiting boaters, something Plymouth currently lacks, according to Harbormaster Chad Hunter.
The facility, located on a corner of the existing state boat ramp parking lot on the inner harbor, also will feature separate public restrooms for tourists and residents enjoying the harborfront, as well as a new office for the harbormaster and a community meeting room.
Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who chairs the Seaport Economic Council, joined town officials at a groundbreaking for the facility, expected to open in late winter 2020. In addition to its $1 million award last fall, the council in 2016 provided Plymouth with $185,600 to fund the project’s engineering and permitting costs.
“The town of Plymouth has shown increasing commitment over the past few years to environmental issues, maritime activities including our fishing industry, and tourism,” Town Manager Melissa Arrighi said by e-mail. “This facility embraces all those priorities and our solemn thanks to the lieutenant governor and Plymouth Town Meeting representatives cannot be overstated.”
Town Meeting in May 2018 authorized $3.5 million for the project’s construction, and an additional $1 million this spring after initial bids were higher than expected. With the state contribution, the town’s share of the project is $3.5 million.
The need to provide more facilities to attract visiting boaters was among the highlights of Plymouth’s 2017 harbor plan. In addition to the new maritime facility amenities, Hunter said the town plans to address that need by doubling the number of moorings for visiting boats — there are now nine — following completion of ongoing dredging work in the harbor.
“The number one industry in Plymouth is tourism. We will now be able to bring in more boaters and have them stay longer,” Hunter said, noting the boost those visitors will bring to the local economy.
He said the new public restrooms, meanwhile, will be a convenience for the many tourists and residents who walk along that busy stretch of the harborfront.
Providing a new harbormaster’s office also has been a longstanding need, Hunter said, noting that the current building has only seasonal running water and no bathroom facilities, does not comply with handicapped access rules, and has other deficiencies.
The inclusion of the community room will provide space for the state boating safety courses offered by the harbormaster’s office, and for meetings.
Hunter said the project is timely given the large number of visitors expected to be drawn to town next year for the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing and the founding of the Plymouth colony.
“We should be moved in by February or March 2020, so that puts us in a great position to be ready for the spring,” he said, when the celebration gets fully underway.
Hunter said the Plymouth project also follows a trend that includes similar maritime facilities constructed in other Massachusetts coastal towns in recent years, including Harwich, Marshfield, Newburyport, and Sandwich.
“It’s very exciting,” he said, of watching the preliminary work at the site. “We’ve been talking about this project for a long time.”
John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.