Station Menemsha, one year later

Chief Petty Officer Jason Olsen meets with town selectmen

MENEMSHA, Mass. -- Town Selectmen Warren Doty asks Chief Petty Officer Jason Olsen and architects about future plans of the new Coast Guard Station Menemsha boathouse, July 7, 2011. The old boathouse burnt down on July 12, 2010. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton.

Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Luke Clayton

It has been one year since U.S. Coast Guard Station Menemsha’s boathouse caught fire July 12, 2010, and efforts to build a new boathouse are well underway.

Although investigators were unable to determine the cause of the fire, Station Menemsha promised in February to work with the town of Chilmark to build a new boathouse that offers the best in modern capabilities while preserving the beauty and historical presence of the small harbor town.

On July 7, town selectmen from Chilmark met with Chief Petty Officer Jason Olsen, the officer in charge of Station Menemsha, and the Coast Guard’s contracted design team. The group gathered near what’s left of the old boathouse to discuss the importance of capturing the historical and cultural spirit of Martha’s Vineyard.

Olsen has been updating the community about future plans through town meetings and has spoken personally with several town selectmen and officials about the Coast Guard’s intent with the project.

“Our main concern is the footprint and image of the new boathouse,” said Warren Doty, the lead town selectman from Chilmark.

“What we’re doing this week is getting a sense of the small community,” said Farancisco Brito, the director of the project. “We want to build it thoroughly and what we put together will be consistent with the old boathouse.”

Although appearances may differ only slightly, the operational capabilities of the new boathouse may upgrade dramatically. Based on the current plan, crews could have the capability to pull response boats from the water to conduct maintenance and vessel exchanges without having to drive 30 minutes around the harbor to a boat launch.

The road from concept to construction will undoubtedly be a long one. Surveys, core samples, historical evaluations, and excavations must all be done before a single plank can be placed. But the project is coming together, explained Brito.

“It’s very good that we’re moving forward and making great progress with the rebuild of the boathouse in Menemsha,” said Olsen. “We’re working as hard as we can with the community and town officials to address their concerns.”

Coast Guard Station Menemsha has held steady throughout the process, ensuring their 47-foot Motor Life Boat and 25-foot rescue boat crews are always ready.