2006-12-21 / News

Mooring and outhaul rate increase still undecided

By Sam Bari

Escalating operating expenses and the cost of needed repairs, as well as maintenance and improvements will require rate increases for moorings and outhauls for the 2007 boating season.

The exact amount of the increases was the subject of intense discussion and debate during the open forum portion of the Harbor Management Commission’s Dec. 13 meeting.

Commissioner Chris Brown, chairman of the harbor budget committee, had prepared a chart comparing Jamestown mooring and outhaul permit fees with those in surrounding communities. In most categories, Jamestown rates were lower or in the middle of fees charged by other towns in the bay area.

Brown’s recommended increases were calculated on the needs of the projected 2007-08 harbor operating budget. If his recommendations are adopted, the resident mooring rate will be raised to $3.20 per foot, with commercial moorings going up to $6.40. Non-resident rates will match the commercial permit fees, and outhaul fees will range from $525 to $600.The commissioners voted to make the matter an agenda item for the next regular meeting after further discussions take place at a budget committee meeting scheduled for Dec. 19 and at a mooring implementation meeting scheduled for Jan. 3.

During the open forum, former Harbor Commission Chairman Jim Archibald, who is also a scoutmaster, said that an Eagle Scout was interested in building a kayak rack for town use. The Scout will present plans and a budget for consideration.

Town Council Liaison Julio DiGiando said that five applicants for upcoming harbor commission vacancies were interviewed in executive session. The applications will be reviewed and discussed at the first Town Council meeting in January. He said that decisions would be made as soon as possible. DiGiando also addressed what he called his monthly question. “Has a decision been made about the use of the wood-pile pier?” Facilities Committee Chairman Robert Bowen said that it was on his list for discussion at the next committee meeting.

The harbor commissioners heard and reviewed Harry Dyson’s request for appeal concerning forfeiture of mooring space for non-compliance with the Jamestown Harbor Management Ordinance. After discussion, the commissioners voted 5-1 to grant the appeal. Commissioner Andrew Kallfelz cast the dissenting vote because he did not agree with the other commissioners concerning proof of non-compliance. Chris Lutyens, who represents the commercial fishing industry, was absent.

In other business, Police Chief Thomas Tighe, who is also the executive director of the harbor commission, reported that a crane tipped over at Dutch Harbor and damaged the pumpout station as well as three floating docks. The town is waiting for a report from the insurance company concerning reimbursement for the damages.

Harbor Clerk Paula Swistak said that moving expenses and construction of space costs for the new harbor office were in question. Harbor Commission Chairman Mike de Angeli suggested that the matter be discussed with the Town Council.

De Angeli and Commissioner Rick Anderson recused themselves while Vice Chairman David Laurie continued the discussion of commercial marina operators’ business policies. At the last commission meeting, the item was put on the agenda because of anonymous complaints from mooring holders to sev-

eral commissioners. Reportedly, some commercial marina operators have threatened to revoke some boaters’ mooring privileges if they took their complaints of unfair treatment to town officials. Laurie’s concern is that mooring holders have nowhere to go if they have a complaint because the commission does not have jurisdiction over marina business policies.

Chief Tighe suggested that all complaints be directed to his office and he would advise concerned parties about the steps they could take until the matter was settled and proper procedure was established. The common complaint appeared to be marina policies concerning the practice of favoritism for boat owners with vessels that the marinas are equipped to service.

Kallfelz suggested that clarity of marina policy could easily solve the problem. He explained that marinas are leased from the town, and they are in business to make a profit. It is their right to offer moorings to boat owners of brands that they sell and service. Moorings are a supply and demand commodity and the demand far exceeds the supply. If mooring holders and applicants know the rules in advance, these conflicts would not occur, he said. Kallfelz also said he suspects that many of the complaints come from people who are unhappy with the policy and are not willing to accept the realities of business.

Conanicut Marina owner Bill Munger said that his company is very clear about their policy of preferring to grant moorings and dock space to owners of boats they are equipped to service. In the marina operators’ defense, he said that if a Sea Ray owner applied for dock space or a mooring at his marina, he would suggest that he go to a marina or yard that is equipped to service his boat. In other words a Sea Ray authorized facility. It is more convenient for the boat owner, and allows the marinas to better service their customers and mooring holders. Munger said that he was sure that other marina operators did the same thing. The matter will be presented to the Town Council for discussion.

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