2007-01-18 / Front Page

Mooring fee increases going to council for approval

By Sam Bari

After discussing the matter in committee and at monthly public meetings, the Harbor Management Commission last week accepted the suggested mooring permit rate increases for the 2007-08 boating season.

At its Jan. 10 meeting, the commissioners voted 5-1 to send Budget Committee Chairman Chris Brown's recommended rate increases to Town Administrator Bruce Keiser for presentation to the Town Council. New Commissioner Terry Jones was absent from the meeting, and Commission Chairman Robert Bowen cast the dissenting vote.

Brown's increases were calculated on the needs of the projected 2007-08 harbor operating budget. If the Town Council adopts his recommendations, the resident mooring rate will be raised to $3.20 per foot, with commercial moorings going up to $6.40 a foot. Non-resident rates will match the commercial permit fees, and club rates will increase to $1,000. Out- haul fees will cost $525 for those with a commercial fishing license and $600 for those without a commercial license.

At public piers, commercial vessel rates will increase to $40 per foot while rates for recreational vessels will increase to $80 per foot. Beach storage will go up to $75 for boats up to 11 feet and $30 per beam foot for vessels 11 feet in length and over. Vessels on racks will be charged the same rates as those stored on beaches. At the West Ferry dinghy dock, vessels up to 10 feet in length will be charged $300 for the season.

According to Brown, the rates are in line with other public mooring facilities in the surrounding area. The recommended rates are in the mid-range of other comparable operations.

In an unrelated item, Hazelett Marine's General Manager Jeff Lefebvre made a detailed presentation of the workings of the Hazelett Elastic Mooring System.

The high-tech system is engineered for performance in severe weather conditions, Lefebvre said. It is a low-maintenance system that is ecologically friendly and designed to work at 30 percent capacity on specified boat weight classes in winds up to 70 miles per hour, he noted. However, like traditional systems, the Hazellet system is not guaranteed in hurricane conditions, Lefebvre pointed out.

Unlike traditional mooring systems using concrete block, chain, and nylon lines that can require considerable scope, the Hazelett system eliminates the need for chain, and has the potential for one-to-one scope in ideal conditions, Lefebvre said.

With mooring space in the harbors at a premium, the system shows promise for accommodating as much as four times as many vessels than using traditional moorings in the same area.

While discussing the system, several commissionsers pointed out that unfortunately, this attractive feature works against the implementation of the system in mooring fields where boats are still using traditional tackle. When both types of mooring systems are close together, those using traditional tackle collide with boats implementing the short scope of the Hazelett system.

Although the system costs approximately twice as much as a traditional mooring, it is engineered to last four times as long and requires less maintenance. The system, however, does not work well with mushroom anchors.

The harbor commissioners voted 6-0 to draft a letter to Harbormaster Sam Paterson requesting that he review the system and possibly recommend its use as an alternative in areas where new moorings are being installed, particularly on the west side of the island.

Police Chief Thomas Tighe, the commission executive director, asked the commissioners to nominate and elect a commission member to the position of vice chairman to replace the seat vacated by David Laurie at the end of his term. The commissioners elected Commissioner Andrew Kallfelz with a 5-0 vote, with Kallfelz not voting.

The commissioners also voted 5-0 to re-instate Michael de Angeli as the commission's chairman.

The town-owned wooden pier at East Ferry was again put on the agenda to attempt to solve the 10- year-old problem of defining its use. The commissioners reviewed a letter drafted by Chairman de Angeli to make recommendations to the Town Council concerning all phases of the matter. While most agreed that the letter adequately covered the allocation of commercial space, required to be less than 280 feet, some were concerned that the letter might not adequately address the issue of the "open public section" of the pier. This delicate issue has been a source of controversy since the matter was first argued 10 years ago. De Angeli agreed to rewrite the letter and bring it back at the February meeting as an agenda item.

In new business, the commissioners sat as a board of appeals to hear the appeal of Peter Cummings concerning a decision made by Harbormaster Paterson regarding the forfeiture of his mooring space due to lack of use. Cummings has had a mooring permit for an 18- foot boat registered to the mooring since 2002.

According to Cummings, his boat was on the mooring for over three weeks when engine problems caused him to haul the boat for repair. Moorings must be used for a minimum of two weeks before they are considered abandoned. The boat was deemed irreparable and Cummings decided to replace it in the spring of 2007 with a new boat when he was informed that his mooring had been forfeited.

The commissioners voted 5-1 to approve the appeal subject to receipt of a letter from Cummings explaining the circumstances of abandoning the mooring and his intentions for future use.

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