SALEM, Mass. — A city that once had one of the busiest harbors in the country is trying to return to the days when this was a working port.
On Thursday night, the Conservation Commission will hold a hearing on a city proposal to build a commercial marina at the Blaney Street ferry landing.
While a relatively small venture with about 10 slips, the marina is being built for commercial fishermen and lobstermen and possibly for boats used for whale watches and charter fishing.
“This is not a large commercial fishing operation ... but it’s all part of reactivating the waterfront and having an opportunity to see how our waterfront can be used in Salem,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll.
Harbormaster Bill McHugh called the marina a “vital link” to the overall harbor plan.
The size of the marina is limited, in part, due to the depth of the water and dredging restrictions in the area where the marina is planned — an inlet of water between the private Hawthorne Cove Marina and the Salem Wharf site.
Building a small marina will allow the city to see how commercial boats fit on the landing.
“We want to make sure we have something that can co-exist well with passengers coming off the ferry and cruise ships,” the mayor said.
If local and state permits are secured, the city hopes to dredge in the late fall.
Other harbor plans are underway.
The Conservation Commission will hold another hearing Thursday on plans to modify the ship pier at Salem Harbor Station power plant for use by cruise ships. Footprint Power, the plant owner, has agreed to allow the city to renovate the pier and also build a walkway to the Blaney Street landing.
The first medium-sized cruise ship is tentatively scheduled for the fall. Several smaller cruise ships used the Salem Wharf last year.
The city is also going out to bid for the next phase — a $4 million phase — of its port expansion.
This additional construction work will include a harbor walk and the next section of the Salem Wharf, as well as final paving and striping of the parking lot, landscaping and benches.
Bids are due May 29.