The Block Island Times

"Yacht clubs don't die."

When it comes to moorings
By Stephanie Turaj | Jul 21, 2013

It can take more than 20 years to get a non-resident town mooring for Block Island’s Great Salt Pond.

About a quarter of those who currently have a town mooring permit are yacht clubs, not individuals. This fact could make the wait even longer, since there is less turnover from organizations than individuals.

Harbors Committee member Carl Kaufmann came before the Town Council at its Wednesday, July 17, meeting to suggest a limit to the number of yacht clubs that are allowed moorings.

“It’s an ongoing problem,” said Kaufmann. “Yacht clubs do not die. The permit stays in the name of the organization.”

Kaufmann said there are 22 yacht clubs who have mooring permits. There is a total of 96 non-resident town moorings available. Kaufmann suggested that the limit for clubs be 23 or 24.

The waiting list to receive a mooring is a long one — there are more than 370 names on the non-resident list — and every year only a few new permits are given out.

New permits are issued only after a current permit holder either relinquishes the license or passes away.

As for yacht clubs, Kaufmann said there appears to be no turnover. “I’m not aware of any that have dropped out,” he said.

“I’m definitely in favor of setting a cap,” said First Warden Kim Gaffett. “At some point, all [mooring permits] are going to become yacht clubs.”

Kaufmann also said there is another problem with the idea of yacht clubs: It is difficult to tell what is a legitimate organization and what is not.

Kaufmann said that people could possibly “game the system” by forming an organization of a few people that looks like a yacht club but is not — this would mean that once the organization has a permit, it could keep it forever.

“I do agree this is an issue of concern,” said Town Councilor Chris Warfel.

The council voted 4-0 to approve the notion of setting a limit on yacht club mooring permits. It did not vote on the number it will cap the permits at.

Second Warden Ken Lacoste was absent from this meeting.

Fast ferry application

The Town Council voted to invite Charles Donadio, Jr., owner of Rhode Island Fast Ferry, to a future council meeting. Donadio has applied to the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers to operate a new high-speed ferry service to Block Island.

Town Councilors had some questions about the proposed ferry service that they wanted to ask Donadio, but overall they expressed support for it.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said councilor Sean McGarry. “It’s an alternative to Interstate. I wish him [Donadio] well.

Legal matters

Town Solicitor Katherine Merolla updated the council on various legal matters. She reported that two zoning violations had been removed, after the individuals in question corrected the issue.

Jeremy Roll has removed an accessory building that was cited for zoning violations. Homeowners Marcel and Judith Dulac have cleaned up their property, which was cited for a junkyard violation, and they have also removed a shed that was in violation.

Merolla also said that Champlin’s Marina laundry room had been cited for leaking soapy water into the Great Salt Pond. Champlin’s has shut down the machines that were causing this problem, reported Merolla.

Merolla also reported that she issued a declaratory judgement petition to the R.I. Public Utilities Commission (PUC) about state renewable energy grants. It is currently unclear whether or not Block Island is eligible for the grants, which are given by the Rhode Island Economic Development Council, and jointly regulated by the PUC. Merolla said that anyone interested in intervening in the declaratory judgement has until August 1 to do so.

The council finished its meeting in executive session to discuss the agenda item “Paul Filippi v. Interstate Navigation Co. v. the Town of New Shoreham and & Town of Narragansett.”

Other business

The council accepted the quarterly municipal deficit reports for June. Town Finance Director Amy Land reported that both the town and the school were running at a surplus.

Also, the council awarded a $180,000 bid to Hague, Sahady & Co. to perform the town and school financial audits.

The council began setting a process for next year’s capital budget. During the previous budget session, there was discussion about bonding some of the town’s capital expenditures, but this is a process that needs research about what, if anything, should be bonded. The council considered forming an infrastructure committee for this purpose.

During public comment, resident Bill McKernan reported that he and a committee had met with representatives from Verizon Wireless to discuss the “poor service” on the island, he said. McKernan said that it was a “good meeting” and that Verizon seemed receptive to implementing new technologies on the island.

Also during the meeting, Town Manager Nancy Dodge reported that the Rhode Island Traffic Commission has approved “no parking” signs on West Side Road, from Legion Park to Champlin’s Marina. These signs have already been installed on the sides of the road, Dodge reported.

Jay Foley sent a letter to announce that he has resigned from the Library Board of Trustees. There are currently openings on the library board and the Deer Task Force.

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