2005-12-22 / Front Page

New chairman selected for harbor commission

By Sam Bari

Immediately following the presentation of an award to Chairman James Archibald at the Dec. 15 Harbor Commission meeting, Archibald nominated Commissioner Michael deAngeli as his successor. The commission voted unanimously in support of the nomination. DeAngeli will take over as chairman on Jan. 1, 2006. Commissioner David Laurie will remain as vice-chairman.

Presented by Town Council liason Julio DiGiando,the award to Archibald was a certificate of appreciation from the Town Council for outstanding services rendered during his term as chairman of the commission. Archibald is resigning his post after serving as a commissioner since 2001 and chairman since December 2003.

The panel also voted unanimously in favor of Commissioner Bob Bowen to succeed deAngeli as facilities committee chairman, although deAngeli will continue to serve on the committee. Archibald said that he will also ask Commissioner Chris Brown, who was absent that night, to chair the budget committee.

In old business, the commission addressed the usage of the town-owned wooden pier at East Ferry. A Dec. 12 letter to the commission from William Munger, owner of Conanicut Marine Services, which leases the pier from the town, was accepted and moved up in the agenda for discussion.

Based on a copy of a letter from Town Solicitor Lauriston Parks, Munger’s letter agreed that the town was in compliance with the intent and regulations regarding use of the pier. Archibald and de Angeli concurred with Munger.

However, Bowen’s opinion differed with the other commissioners because he did not think that the dock space between boats should be counted as recreational space. deAngeli suggested that the nature of the letter implied that the public needed to have recreational access to the docks, and since walking, fishing, and sightseeing on the docks was allowed, the town was in compliance with the intent of the usage.

Bowen contended that only half of the question had been addressed. The top of the dock was in compliance. However, the matter of the length of the dock that is available for use by recreational boaters for docking still needed to be discussed.

Commissioner Greg Murphy, who represents the commercial fishing community, asked, “What would happen to commercial dock space if a fisherman vacated his dock and another commercial boat wasn’t waiting to occupy the space? Would it be given to a recreational vessel?” Munger, whose company controls the leasing of the dock space to boat owners, said that he would have no choice but to rent the space to a recreational vessel if it was on the waiting list. Murphy and Munger agreed that the length of dock space used for commercial boats is greater than that used by recreational vessels.

Archibald noted that occasionally fishermen take advantage of their use of the facility by covering the docks with gear. Munger said that the community has long supported the commercial area of the dock for the use of the commercial fishermen. He has made efforts to keep the amount of gear on the docks under control, he said. The marina operator suggested that if the commissioners inspected the docks today, they would find the areas to be in good order. He has made efforts to maintain a dialogue with the fishermen, and they have been co-operative in keeping the area accessible and presentable, Munger said.

After lengthy discussion, DiGiando suggested that solicitor Parks be invited to a meeting to ask him to clearly define his recommendations and interpretations. The commission voted 4-1 to invite him to the next scheduled meeting to clarify the use of the wooden pier.

In other business, the state Coastal Resources Management Council approved the completed construction project of an 8by 32foot boat storage rack at Head’s Beach on Seaside Drive. The rack was a privately-funded volunteer project of an Eagle Scout.

In the open forum, Munger noted that the channel buoy in East Harbor, a necessary navigational aid, was still missing.

Harbor Commission Executive Director and Interim Town Manager Thomas Tighe, soon to resume his regular duties as police chief, reported that he has directed Harbor Clerk Paula Swistak to recommend that the Town Council award the contract for consulting services concerning harbor construction projects to the R. T. Group of East Providence. The contract is for one year with an option to renew for three years to assist Town Engineer Michael Gray, as needed, in harbor construction services.

DiGiando noted that money should be set aside in the budget for legal fees in the event that legal matters are appropriated to the harbor commission. To date, all legal fees have come from the Town Council. Harbor Clerk Paula Swistak said that she sent letters to 16 mooring installers. The letters contained instructions on how to access a Web site on the Internet for the new guidelines for identifying mooring locations.

By consensus, the commission confirmed its recommendation of mooring GPS location format as degrees and decimal degrees to 5 decimal points.

Archibald mentioned that a budget meeting has not been held. He said that he talked over the matter with Chief Tighe and recommended that it was important for the budget committee to meet before the next harbor commission meeting. Archibald wants to work with the budget committee and restructure it with the new chairman to review the budget and make long-range recommendations. Archibald suggested that a meeting take place before his term ends. The budget meeting was tentatively set for Dec. 21 at 5 p.m.

In his Fort Getty Master Plan Committee report, Archibald said that the town-owned recreational area is a diamond in the rough. He suggested that the fort could be a water access facility with touch and go docks. In its meeting, the Fort Getty committee discussed ways to make the campground a major waterfront recreational facility.

Archibald recommended that the Facilities Committee look into the matter and discuss the possibility of an improvement plan. He said that he feels that “it is the responsibility of the harbor commission to move the Fort Getty plan forward to take some of the pressure off East Ferry and send people to other facilities that are worthwhile developing.” He said, “Money has been set aside for development, but it has to be initiated by the Facilities Committee before anything will happen to implement the work needed to make the project a reality.”

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