Whatever happens, Silverstein said it is important for Footprint to retain use of the dock for its own future development needs. Footprint, which is planning to build a natural gas power plant, hopes to find marine and commercial tenants for the rest of the site, some of which likely would need water access.
Footprint also plans to make use of its pier during demolition of the current plant and construction of the new facility. It has pledged to remove debris and bring in equipment and supplies by barges.
Driscoll and Footprint principals Peter Furniss and Silverstein have talked for some time about allowing cruise ships to dock at the power plant’s pier as a way of getting the city into the cruise ship business while waiting for construction of the city wharf to be completed.
A recent Planning Board decision included language about use of the pier.
Salem has done a lot of work recently on the Salem Wharf at the Blaney Street landing, which is adjacent to the power plant site, but it is not yet ready to host larger cruise ships, Winn said. An estimated 200 feet of the new Salem Wharf has been built, but funds have not yet been secured to build another 140-foot section and complete the project.
Now, it appears the city is planning to use the Blaney Street pier for the Salem Ferry, commercial vessels and smaller cruise ships and the power plant pier for what the cruise industry considers mid-sized vessels carrying several hundred or up to 2,000 passengers.
The construction planned would make the power plant pier accessible for passengers and also meet state and federal disability guidelines, officials said. There are also plans to build a walkway over to the Blaney Street landing.
Small cruise ships with about 100 passengers or fewer have stopped in Salem in the past, docking on Blaney Street.