Town Council inspects East Ferry piers; plans improvements
Three Town Council members along with city officials and several interested citizens went on a walk-about at the town-owned piers at East Ferry Monday morning. Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and Harbor Management Commission Facilities Chairman Robert Bowen initiated the inspection to prioritize improvement projects at the East Ferry waterfront.
"The inspection went very well," Keiser said. "It was informative, and being physically present at the facility brought a lot to the forefront that was not evident at town meetings away from the area in question. The town's support for the commercial fishermen and the industry in general was much more obvious. The allocation of space for commercial use and recreational purposes was made clear. I was surprised to see so many conflicts between the different outdoor recreation user groups about how the piers should be used," he added.
Keiser said that the inspection definitely made prioritizing an easier task. Discussions with the Town Council and Harbor Management Commission can now be focused in a more practical way, "so we can move forward and get things done. Everyone involved saw the facility together and now has a clearer understanding of the shortcomings and immediate needs that must be addressed," he said.
The Town Administrator suggested that the harbor commission needs access to additional funds if they want to complete any of these projects in the near future. "Their ability to produce revenue is limited," he said. "One option that might be considered by the town is to put harbor revenues into the general fund so that more money from other revenue streams and sources can be allocated to much needed projects."
Facilities Chairman Bowen agreed with Keiser, and said that the suggestions for improvements are all good and necessary, but not very practical if we don't have the funding. "I think we have to keep our wish list and our ability to do lists separate," Bowen said. "Until we have additional sources of revenue, we're either going to continue talking about needed improvements for another five years and do nothing while the price keeps going up, or we're going to use the money we have available and spend it wisely to get things done," he said.
Town Council Member Barbara Szepatowski said that although the docks must be repaired and maintained, the town should look at other needs at the facility that might be more important than aesthetic improvements to the piers. "The need for a public dinghy dock is just one of the things that I think is most important," she said.
Alek Bronovitsky, a Jamestown Shores resident and boat owner said that he was glad he attended the East Ferry tour. "The inspection was a real eye-opener for me," he said. "It is obvious that the town has significant infrastructure assets that are grossly undervalued and are not being used to generate revenue to pay their own way. I see no reason why the town doesn't have its own town-managed dinghy dock and taxi service so that boaters can get to and from their moorings. It would generate money for the town and provide services that are necessary for the boating community. We are the only marina facility in the bay area that I know about that has mooring fields with no single trip taxi service. That is unconscionable," he said.
Town Council Members Julio DiGiando, Barbara Szepatowski, and William Kelly attended the inspection as well as Harbor Commissioners Robert Bowen, Chris Lutyens and Terry Jones. Police Chief Thomas Tighe and Town Administrator Bruce Keiser were also present. Town Council President David Long did not attend the meeting due to family illness, and Councilman Michael Schnack was absent because of scheduling conflicts.