Winds shifting for new Harbormaster’s building plans

Nov 23, 2020

MARION — Tides are changing in plans for a new Harbormaster’s office on Island Wharf.

Harbormaster Isaac Perry gave an update on the status of the new Harbormaster’s building at a Nov. 23 Marion Marine Resource Commission meeting, but the project won’t be able to move forward until new blueprints arrive. 

The original plans were for a large building, closely resembling the Tabor oceanography lab. But input from community members, officials and an opinion letter by Selectman John Waterman which called the building a “Taj Mahal on Sippican Harbor” led to a change of plans.

New plans will likely remove the planned public bathrooms, some office space, and much of the planned public viewing decking. 

Perry said that the current hope is to be able to renovate the Harbormaster’s building’s current bathrooms. This would mean that there would be two Harbormaster buildings on Island Wharf.

Though, Perry said “this is all subject to change.” 

The potential plans leave the problem of whether the renovated Harbormaster’s building should be two independent structures, or if it should connect somehow. 

“Part of the plan was to increase the viewing of the harbor by getting rid of the existing structure,” commission member Pete Bosari said.

Bosari wondered if there had been any community feedback on how the building might look now that the plan is to have the original structure remain.

“A large part of where that is would have been open space,” he said.

Even though no input has come through yet, Commission Chair Vincent Malkoski said community members will likely have an opinion on the building. 

“At the end of the day, this is a public building, so that’s how all this works,” he said.

Perry said most of the cost of the project will be attributed to getting the building to its required height above ground, and that reducing the size of the building once it’s raised probably won’t do much to affect the cost.

But a full cost estimate won’t be coming for a while, since the money to do that was redirected to the new blueprints. 

“The cost estimating is a huge piece of the puzzle we need to move forward,” Perry said. 

But for now, the project is waiting on new blueprints to see what potential versions of the building might look like. 

“We have some time,” Perry said. “The building hasn’t fallen over just yet.”