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Virginia CZM Program: 2010 Coastal Grant Project Description and Final Summary

Project Task:



Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission 

Project Title:

Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority: Perrin Wharf Waterfront Revitalization 

Project Description as Proposed:

Within the Middle Peninsula, and in most coastal communities nationwide, the commercial seafood industry has had to adapt and shift as coastal land use and waterfront property ownership is altered. Historically, as epicenters of economic development, coastal communities were the location of a strong fisheries industry, shipbuilding, as well as public access areas for recreational and commercial uses.  However, as more and more people move toward the coast, the coastal dynamics and demographics ultimately threaten traditional and culturally significant working waterfront industries (ie. commercial seafood). Jack Wiggins Urban Harbor Institute’s white paper titled Preserving and Promoting a Working Harbor: The Experience of Gloucester, Massachusetts articulates the true nature of the challenge faced by many coastal communities:
“Without economically viable waterfront business, property owners are unable, and lending institutions unwilling, to invest in capital improvements needed to maintain piers, wharves and other waterfront infrastructure”….“The viability of many businesses on the Gloucester waterfront has been and remains tied to the health of the commercial fisheries”.
Coastal Gloucester, Virginia is no different.  It is well known that key commercial seafood businesses have closed in Gloucester for a variety of reasons.   To compound the problem, traditional access points are built upon, fenced off, posted “No Trespass”, or purchased by new owners who are unwilling to continue old patterns of public access uses. Consequently as watermen are forced to move from or are restricted from using traditional access points, they struggle to sustain their commercial seafood business. With limited space and limited sites available for mooring their boats and safe infrastructure on which to conduct business, watermen seek innovated and new options to continue business as normal. 

The Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority has received ownership of a 320 ft wharf (transfer of ownership from VDOT) on the Perrin River traditionally used by commercial watermen for vessel moorage.   The Perrin River exists as the urban working waterfront for the county.  This project would serve as a revitalization of the urban waterfront- commercial seafood hub for Gloucester County.   With the recent closure of several key docking locations, up to 25 commercial workboats have been displaced and are rafting at the Perrin Wharf.  This project proposes to revitalize and reorganize the public wharf moorage space.  The current moorage space is unorganized. Vessels will tie up parallel with the pier, making inefficient use of public space.  Rafting is also used, but is not as safe as slip mooring.  This project proposes to reorganize the first 100 ft of the pier by installing new slip poles and finger piers to assist with mooring and off loading for commercial watermen and also general use by the public.   

Federal Funding:


Project Contact:

Harrison Bresee; 804.758.2311; 

Project Status:

4/1/2013 - 9/30/2013; Project Completed 

Final Product Received:

Perrin Wharf Waterfront Revitalization Final Report (pdf) 

Project Summary Provided by Grantee:

In February, 2013, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) transferred ownership of the 320 foot Perrin River wharf to the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority (MPCBPAA). The wharf has been traditionally used by commercial watermen for vessel moorage and seafood offloading. The current moorage space was unorganized. Vessels would tie up parallel with the pier, making inefficient use of public space. Rafting (tying up boats side to side) is also used, but is not as safe as slip mooring.
This project was funded, in part, by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program at the Department of Environmental Quality through the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. With this funding and help from local businesses and the Gloucester County Parks and Recreation Department, the Middle Peninsula Chesapeake Bay Public Access Authority (MPCBPAA) reorganized the first 100 ft of the pier by installing 15 new slip poles and 3 finger piers to create 9 slips for boat moorage and seafood offloading. This project served as a revitalization of the Perrin River urban waterfront- commercial seafood hub in Gloucester County, Virginia.
The final report will be available on-line at:

Disclaimer: This project summary provides the federal dollars initially awarded to the grantee. Due to underexpenditure or reprogramming of grant funds, this figure may change. For more information on the allocation of coastal grant funds, please contact Laura McKay, Virginia Coastal Program Manager, at 804.698.4323 or email:

A more detailed Scope of Work for this project is available. Please direct your request for a copy to

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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