Barnstable bulkhead to be restored

Jen Ouellette

A year and nine months after the Barnstable Harbor bulkhead collapsed in a heavy rainstorm, a solution has been found to fund the necessary permanent repairs to the well-used harbor.

“I thank you for waiting a little while until we could organize the resources that we needed,” Gov. Deval Patrick told the hundreds of people gathered at the bulkhead Monday afternoon.

Patrick told the audience, made up primarily of members of the Friends of Barnstable Harbor organization, he heard “loud and clear” about the problem in Barnstable.

“This project didn’t qualify for stimulus money. Sorry about that,” Patrick said. “But we knew Barnstable wasn’t going to take no for an answer.”

Through a cost-sharing agreement with the town of Barnstable, the state is pledging to cover up to 75 percent or $3.75 million of the repair costs.

“For every dollar you put up, the commonwealth will put up $3,” explained Patrick.

In March of 2008, a storm caused a 30-foot section of the wooden bulkhead to fall into the ocean, leading to a loss of approximately 450 square feet of land in a harbor that is heavily used by commercial fishermen and recreational boaters alike.

While the town took action to stabilize the failed areas, the break in the bulkhead continued to pose a safety hazard as erosion gobbled up parking spaces along its exterior.

Many legislators —Congressman William Delahunt, Senators John Kerry and Paul Kirk Jr., Senate President Therese Murray as well as the local Cape delegation on Beacon Hill — stepped forward to voice concern for the harbor and express the importance of the project to the governor.

“This is the quintessential grassroots project,” Delahunt said. “It was folks like Peter [Jasin, of Friends of Barnstable Harbor] and the people here that made their voices heard and it filtered up.”

Last Thursday, at a meeting of the Barnstable Town Council, councilor Ann Canedy sponsored a late-filed agenda item requesting an appropriation of $525,000 to be borrowed from the Marine Enterprise Fund. The council unanimously supported the borrowing, which will be added to $750,000 that was appropriated several months ago.

The estimated cost for the steel reinforced bulkhead that is planned is approximately $5 million.

“We’re very happy about the grant and we’re particularly happy about the close working relationship our organization has had with the town and [Town Manager] John Klimm throughout the year,” said Friends President Ted Theodores Tuesday.

Theodores said now that they’ve secured funding for the repairs, the organization and town will turn their attention to creating a harbor management plan.

“We’ve created a harbor management committee to work with the town to get the harbor back up and running as quickly as we can in the 2010 marina season,” explained Theodores.

Since the collapse of the bulkhead, the marina has lost close to 20 of the 88 or 90 slips that were operating prior to the collapse.

Theodores said he’s hopeful the work will get under way prior to the start of the 2010 marina season, but he’s still concerned about the amount of disruption that may still plague the marina.

“It looked very dismal just a few weeks ago. I was concerned a lot of commercial boats would move to other harbors and we would lose them. I’m still concerned about that because I’m not sure what we’ll be able to open while construction is going on,” said

Theodores, adding a couple of commercial fishermen have already been lost to other marina’s and a couple of others got sold.

But Theodores and his organization are switching from a fundraising mode to coordinating construction efforts so the 2010 season can go as smoothly as possible.

“We’re really pleased that the governor could actually come down and make that announcement. He did a great job and he made a lot of Barnstable Village folks very happy.”

The Register