The Block Island Times
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Harbors floats harbormaster shack ideas

By Judy Tierney | Feb 06, 2013
Photo by: Judy Tierney The Harbors Committee discusses moorings.

A new harbormaster’s office is under serious consideration by the Harbors Committee. At its meeting on Thursday, January 25, members discussed a site, water lines and how to consult with the state Coastal Resources Management Council.

Properties near the Boat Basin, where a barge now holds the “harbormaster’s shack,” were mentioned as possibilities. The lots — Plat 5, lots 69-7 and 69-3 — were created in 1988, and are owned by the Land Trust. Any plans would have to go to the Land Trust first and then to CRMC for its approval.

Town Manager Nancy Dodge, who attended the meeting with First Warden Kim Gaffett, said the committee could request money for engineering in the capital budget. Questions about what to include besides an office, such as toilets and showers, and a dinghy dock, led Harbormaster Steve Land to offer a novel idea. Land suggested building a pier that could hold dinghy tie-ups with the office at the end of it, like Trader Vic’s at Champlin’s Marina. Vice-Chair Dennis Heinz mentioned there are town water lines that could be extended to the area as they now reach all the way to West Side Lane.

Asked his opinion on what to build, Land said he would leave that up to the committee, however, he does like the good views from the office now and can see the activity and boats out on the pond. A discussion to determine what the committee would like to build will be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.

Yacht club moorings

Yacht club moorings will be scrutinized this winter. Committee member Hermann “Bo” Gempp reported they have not been monitored and he would like to make sure they all belong to legitimate yacht clubs. In explanation, he mentioned there is one off-island club registered as a nonprofit with boating safety as its goal, and there are only two members, who together hold the seven offices in the club.

Clerk Beth Rousseau said there are 22 clubs with moorings right now, and of the 290 moorings in the pond, a total of 94 are allotted to nonresidents. Citing the lack of mooring available for island residents with boats, Gempp made a motion to cap yacht club moorings and review them before any more are issued. Apprised by Gaffett that the Harbors Committee is an advisory to the Town Council, Gempp amended it to a recommendation that the council place the moratorium until a review is conducted. The motion passed unanimously.

Old Harbor damage

Dodge offered an update on the storm damage to the Old Harbor docks. The bait dock repairs will be going out to bid as soon as possible once the town has received the insurance money. The east dock will not be ready this summer, however. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could not come until June to work on it, so the town asked them to wait until September. In the meantime, though, she thought the pilings were not damaged and boats might be able to tie up on them.

Land said he would like to have 50 amp electricity installed in Old Harbor instead of 30 amp, and Dodge said she would try to place that in the budget, if not with grant money then from the capital budget. Outgoing chair Gempp and incoming chair Dennis Heinz both recalled there already was grant money for water and electrical hook ups. Dodge thought about that, then remembered there was a matching grant from the boating infrastructure earmarked for last spring that they had put off to the fall. She said she is “still looking for it,” adding that the town had come up with a match. Though the U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service has been contacted in regard to the grant, Dodge said she had not received an answer and will put in a capital request as a fallback.

Heinz also would like dredging along the breakwater by Ballard’s. Gempp suggested putting maintenance money in the budget so the sand doesn’t get high again.

Several sections of an army surplus steel boat ramp are being ordered for $305. Charles Gustafson said if it works it might solve the problem of the dilapidated New Harbor boat ramp. The sections he ordered are a “pilot test” to see whether this type of ramp would work on the island.

The committee elected new officers for 2013. Heinz was elected as chair. Bob Littlefield, absent at this meeting, was elected vice-chair.

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