2007-06-28 / Front Page

Council takes up East Ferry pier improvements

By Tom Shevlin

Town Council members tried to come to grips with the ongoing dispute over use of the town's wood pile pier at East Ferry on Monday.

According to reports, the wood pile pier measured 167 feet when it was first built with federal funds in 1974 for public outdoor recreation. Because it was built with federal funding, the town is required to provide equal access to all users. Since then, it has been used to serve fishermen, pedestrians and transient recreational boaters. An expansion of 140 feet in the 1980s also did not place limits on users. However, since then, additional boat, pedestrian, and fishing traffic has caused issues between users, with each group claiming the other infringes on the pier space.

Councilor Barbara Szepatowski said there may never be enough space to satisfy everyone. "We could build from here to Newport and not have enough space," she said.

Vice President Julio DiGiando also expressed his concern over the high cost of a proposal received by the town in February to make improvements to the East Ferry facility, which could reach as high as $284,000. Councilor William Kelly agreed and suggested that Department of Public Works personnel examine the pier complex to determine what, if any, improvements could be made independently by the town.

Councilor Michael Schnack said that the town needs to "look at what makes sense today," and proposed a joint work session for sometime in late July with the Harbor Management Commission to determine the scope and the need of the project going forward.

Also, in a bow to the town's heated highway barn vote, which was also on the agenda earlier that night, Schnack concluded by slyly saying, "In conclusion, I'd like to move that the wood pile pier be moved to Lot 47."

In other business:

+ In the open session, Charlotte Zarlengo, president of the Jamestown Shores Association asked council members to refrain from making any decisions regarding the proposed mooring field at Head's Beach pending the outcome of two separate water quality studies.

+ Town Administrator Bruce Keiser requested a special meeting of the town council for Thursday, June 29 to discuss the Town's farmland buyback effort.

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