After more than a decade of planning and almost three years of construction, the Steamship Authority’s new Oak Bluffs terminal was officially opened on Wednesday, just in time for the start of the boat line’s seasonal service.

The chairman of the Oak Bluffs selectmen, Duncan Ross, flanked by the SSA’s general manager, Wayne Lamson and Martha’s Vineyard’s representative on the SSA board of governors, Marc Hanover, cut a red ribbon strung across the front door of the new building.

Then the couple of hundred people gathered for the event squeezed inside to check out the new facility. It was not the sort of day you wanted to spend long outside.

It was cool and windy and overcast and occasionally spitting rain. But the weather actually served to highlight at least one of the major improvements that have been made: the extensive new passenger pavilion and wide, covered walkways.

They will give passengers much greater protection from the elements as they get on and off the boats, just as they gave Wednesday’s gathered crowd protection through the 20 minutes or so of speechifying and entertainment which preceded the ribbon cutting.

In his comments, Mr. Hanover recalled the early days of planning for a new terminal, 12 years ago when the Oak Bluffs selectmen asked the boat line governors and others to come up with a plan to renovate the old terminal.

“I can assure you, what that committee came up with was nothing near as grand as this is,” he said.

“Grand,” however, might not be quite the word to describe the new building. “Quaint” probably goes closer; the intent was not to make a structure which stood out, but one which blended in, as Steve Cecil, of the planning and design firm The Cecil Group, explained.

Oak Bluffs, he said, was notable for its stick-style Victorian architecture, which was not highly refined, but was well-suited to a summer colony.

He said the previous terminal buildings which had stood on the spot for 150 years were always “friendly,” like the town itself.

Thus the new terminal took its design cues from the other buildings of the town, including previous terminal buildings, which had been built and replaced on the same site over 150 years.

Pitched, shingled roof, lots of exposed timbers, a turret. And, topping it all, a weather vane, inspired by an old ferry, the Nobska, constructed by Anthony Holand of Tuck and Holand, here on the Island.

Mr. Cecil presented Mr. Lamson with the original graphic of the weather vane.

Mr. Hanover noted that the project had not always gone smoothly, and it was a “true accomplishment for the Island and for Oak Bluffs,” and a testament to the boat line and its contractors that the building was done by the deadline.

Indeed, there were several deadlines, for the project was done in three phases, each completed over a winter so the terminal could operate during the tourist season.

The last phase, this past winter, involving the construction of the terminal building itself was difficult. Part of the preexisting terminal foundation and a bulkhead collapsed.

At one point, Mr. Hanover said, the project was running a full month behind schedule.

Mr. Lamson, when it came his turn to speak, went through a list of thank-yous of Oscars-like length. In particular, he thanked several politicians.

“This project was funded in part by three separate grants, totaling over $3.8 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Ferryboat Discretionary Program,” he said.

“I want to thank Congressman Delahunt and the late Senator Kennedy and Senator Kerry for their help in getting this much-needed funding.

“In addition we received $1.05 million in stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and this would not have been possible without the support of Governor Patrick and his administration . . . We were fortunate to have Robert O’Leary and Tim Madden working on our behalf as well.”

But it was Duncan Ross who actually touched on politics — Island politics — in his little speech.

“What I really love about it is it mixes in with what we are doing here in town. This is going to be the most pedestrian-friendly terminal on Martha’s Vineyard,” he said.

“My hope and prayer is when people get off the boat and come here, they won’t want to leave. They’re going to stay in Oak Bluffs.”