2008-05-22 / News

Dutch Harbor owner denies upcoming auction

By Sam Bari

Barbara Paterson, one of the principals of Dutch Harbor Boat Yard, denied that the boatyard was being auctioned due to financial problems after being asked for a status report at the May 14 Harbor Management Commission meeting.

Paterson said, "Everything is fine. We're just getting refinanced and in a couple of days everything will be back to normal. Right now, it's business as usual. We're not going anywhere."

Jamestown Finance Director Christina Collins said that the company's obligations to the town had been met. The lease was paid in advance and taxes are current, she said.

An article in the Providence Journal on May 14 differed dramatically from Paterson's assessment of the situation. The article said, "The Providence County Superior Court has ordered the company's business, assets and real estate to be sold for the benefit of its creditors, according to Joseph P. Ferrucci, a Providence attorney and the court-appointed "Special Master" selected to carry out the court's directive.

"Bank Rhode Island, one of the company's two major lenders, said in a petition filed in March that the company "is in default of its obligations" to the bank because of a failure to make payments according to the loan terms. The bank sought to have the company taken over by a receiver in order to sell the business and its assets."

Several messages were left at the boatyard asking for Paterson's side of the story, but the calls were not returned. Paterson answered the phone on Saturday, but refused to talk to the Press. "Talk to my lawyer," Paterson said.

Dutch Harbor Boat Yard is owned by DHBY LLC, which lists Barbara and Robert Paterson as partners in the corporation. The company purchased the land and business in July 2005 for $2.65 million, according to town records.

During the open forum portion of the harbor commission meeting, Conanicut Marine owner William Munger again brought up the subject of fishing on the town-owned woodpile pier at East Ferry. Munger wrote a letter to the Town Council that was discussed at its May 8 meeting, but the council referred the matter to the harbor commission for a recommendation. De Angeli said, "We have the letter and we can discuss the matter, but since it isn't an agenda item we can't make any decisions."

In his letter, Munger reminded officials that the town and Conanicut Marine are jointly responsible to manage the woodpile pier for the "utmost safety of all user groups." He mentioned the conflict between fishing and boating interests that has caused dangerous conditions and situations. He sited casting off the pier as being potentially dangerous for boats trying to navigate the narrow channels.

He also suggested that fishermen casting from both sides of the narrow pier endangers anyone walking down the center.

Munger said in his letter that he would like to see the rules governing fishing on the pier remain as status quo, which would mean no increase in the number of rod and reel fishermen allowed at one time on the deck of the pier. Presently, ten anglers are allowed on the pier at one time.

Munger said, "The boating public, who must have access to the pier and floating docks to load and unload passengers and gear as well as gain access to the pump out station to empty their holding tanks, was being impacted by those using the dock for fishing."

Town Council Liaison Julio DiGiando, reminded those present that the Council had approved reserving 40-feet on both the north and south side of the pier as well as an additional 80-feet on the north side for transient boating. This means the reserved section

for transient boaters cannot be leased as seasonal dock space.

Facilities Committee Chairman Robert Bowen said that the U.S. Department of the Interior fi- nanced 167 feet of the pier for the purpose of transient, recreational boating and fishing. Consequently, that much of the pier had to be reserved for those purposes.

Steve Moreau, owner of the commercial vessel Beavertail, which is docked at the woodpile pier, said he would be willing to move his boat back to Ft. Getty if asked. He said that fishermen constantly caught hooks on his dock lines and he consistently found evidence that fishermen had been on his boat when he was not on board.

"You can say that clearing the docks for transient boaters is not creating a fishing pier, but no matter how you say it, that's what you've done. Fishermen can stay and boats cannot," Moreau said. He said the commission has to make up its mind for the use of the dock. "Is it a boat dock or a fishing pier?" Moreau asked rhetorically.

Moreau also said that transient boaters attempting to tie up at the touch and go dock or use the pump out were often intimidated by fishermen not moving their lines, or continuing to cast while people were trying to dock their boats.

Commissioner Rick Anderson agreed with Moreau that clearing the docks automatically created a situation that favored fishermen. "When you say boats are not allowed to stay but fishermen can, you've created a fishing dock," Anderson said.

Anderson also mentioned that limiting the number of fishermen on the pier to 10 at a time is only going to work if it is enforced. "Who's going to be there to enforce any rules?" he asked.

After a lengthy debate, Chairman de Angeli said that the matter would be an agenda item at the next meeting. He said they would further discuss the issue and make a recommendation to the Town Council.

In other business, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve the harbor budget prepared by commissioner Chris Brown and recommend it to the Town Council.

In an unrelated matter, Bowen said that the steel pier project was scheduled to commence work on Aug. 1 for six weeks.

Return to top