Trap Dock Revitalization Gets $150K Seaport Grant

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Waterways

The town-owned trap dock (center) is flanked by the dock owned by Stage Harbor Yacht Club (left) and Old Mill Boat Yard, where the town harbormaster’s office is located (out of view, on right). COURTESY FRANK MESSINA

CHATHAM The effort to modernize the town-owned trap dock on Stage Harbor received a $150,000 boost from the state Seaport Economic Council last Tuesday.

Officials are finishing development of the conceptual plan for the facility, purchased by the town several years ago for $1.5 million. It is flanked on the east by town-owned land at the former Old Mill Boat Yard, where the harbormaster’s office is located, and a dock owned by Stage Harbor Yacht Club on the west. Early plans call for the installation of pier-supported concrete docks, similar to those at Old Mill Boatyard, contiguous between the trap dock and yacht club properties. The goal is to allow the continued use of the dock by commercial fishermen.

The Seaport grant will fund additional design work and permitting for the project, Coastal Resources Director Ted Keon said. Keon and other town officials attended the Seaport Economic Council meeting in Marshfield on Aug. 14 where the grant was voted.

There is a continuing need for offloading facilities in Stage Harbor for the commercial fishing fleet, and town officials have been steadily moving ahead with the project.

“We highlighted in the grant that this is an extremely important component for our commercial fishing industry,” Keon said.

The town’s main offloading facility is the municipal fish pier in Chatham Harbor, but erosion of the outer beach has made navigation challenging for the fishing fleet (see related story, page 3). A number of commercial fishermen have argued that the need for a Stage Harbor offloading facility is urgent.

“We need both sides to be viable and functioning,” Keon said. With the shoaling around Chatham Harbor, “some boats kind of need a second place to go.” Deeper-draft vessels might need to fully relocate to Stage Harbor “until things work themselves out on the east side,” he said.

Officials favor a simple design for the dock, with a ramp allowing a single truck to back up and load fish from boats. The facility will be much more modest than the fish pier, they say.

Key to any plan is a partnership with the Stage Harbor Yacht Club, which would share use of the new dock. The town is in talks with the yacht club about the possibility of providing public access to their side of the pier during the off-season.

“We’re still working out those details and concepts,” Keon said.

The town’s grant application fit well with the goals of the Seaport Council, which favors the development and retention of working waterfronts, he added.

“Massachusetts’ maritime economy supports the Commonwealth’s coastal communities through tourism, commercial fishing, marine research and shipping,” Gov. Charlie Baker wrote in a news release. “Our administration remains committed to strengthening these cities and towns through the funding, expertise and leadership of the Seaport Economic Council and will continue to do so through new authorization from the economic development package signed last week.” That package includes $50 million in authorizations for saltwater dredging projects.

The $3.8 million in Seaport grants announced last week included $1 million for improvements to the Nantucket Town Pier, $80,000 for a harbor and waterways management plan in Eastham, and $317,020 for the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension for a storm tide mapping project.

Email Alan Pollock at alan