NEW BEDFORD — One of the partners involved in the provisional redevelopment of the State Pier is assuring the Cuttyhunk ferry is welcome to stay, following concern from the ferry company and some residents that the ferry service would be booted from the pier.
Ed Washburn, managing director of Coast Line Transfers and former New Bedford port director, said this week that the plan is to keep the users and tenants on the pier.
“A big part of what we’re trying to do will be enhanced by having additional ferry passengers, whether it’s Seastreak to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, or Jono’s [ferry] to Cuttyhunk,” Washburn said. “We’re excited about the possibility of having Cuttyhunk operating at the State Pier for the long term.”
Jono Billings, the president, captain and operator of Cuttyhunk Ferry Co., said he grew concerned after receiving an email from MassDevelopment, the quasi-public agency that manages the state property, from which he learned of the provisional agreement with a group of companies to redevelop the pier.
“I started getting phone calls and emails … from concerned Cuttyhunk people,” Billings told The Light.
MassDevelopment selected Taber’s Wharf Partners — a group of five companies — to redevelop the 8-acre, state-owned site last week, setting off a 180-day period to establish more detailed plans and financing.
One of the partners, Crowley, submitted a proposal in May of 2022, which mentioned the Cuttyhunk ferry as part of the future site.
“Existing users, including the historic Schooner Ernestina-Morrissey the New Bedford
Whaling National Historical Park and the Cuttyhunk Ferry are ideal in this location,” the proposal said of the southwest portion of the pier.
A rendering with the May proposal included the ferry, but an updated September presentation from Taber’s Wharf Partners stated, “Seastreak will continue to operate ferry to the islands,” and made no mention of Cuttyhunk Ferry Co. The new site rendering included the Ernestina and Seastreak, but not the Cuttyhunk ferry.
Washburn said it was just a sketch, and that the final version will look different.
Steve Silverstein, one of the redevelopment partners who owns and operates several city restaurants, told The Light this week that he thinks the assumption is that Cuttyhunk ferry will continue as is, while also saying it was not really discussed.
“My expectation is that it does include [Cuttyhunk] because it was never talked about not including it. But nonetheless, nothing is going to happen where they are for some period of time,” Silverstein said. “And I’m sure that there will be accommodation. The ferry will be accommodated in New Bedford.”
Billings said his ferry serves about 15,000 people annually, in addition to transporting supplies to the island.
The current tenants of the State Pier are Seastreak, Cuttyhunk Ferry Co., American Cruise Lines (with seasonal weekend berthing), Seaport Communications, McAllister Towing, Maritime International, Pier Oil Co., several commercial fishing vessels for berthing, the Ernestina Morrissey with Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Environmental Police, Massachusetts State Police, and the Seaport Advisory Council, per a MassDevelopment spokesperson.
Washburn said the next step during this 180-day period will be to meet with MassDevelopment and the current tenants to understand what they do now, how they see their future at the pier and how Taber’s Wharf Partners can help facilitate it.
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