2009-07-16 / Front Page

Harbor Commission moves ‘step closer’ to Ft. Getty boat ramp repairs

By Erin Tiernan

Harbor Management Commission members will take a close look at the harbormaster and harbor clerk positions during the next month, analyze the harbor office operations and report on the effi- ciency of these job functions to the Town Council by September.

Commissioner Richard Anderson tied the council’s concerns about the efficiency of the harbor operation to upcoming elections that will affect several current Town Council members.

“This is not a process that I’m in favor of rushing just to satisfy perhaps one politician who might drop off the Town Council,” Anderson said during the July 8 Harbor Commission meeting. “If we’re going to do this right, this is something that could take from now until next February.”

Andrew Kallfelz, vice chair of the Harbor Commission, agreed.

“We need a heck of a lot more data to have a grounded discussion,” he said, and added that a complete review of procedure would only be possible after commissioners have an opportunity to fully review duties of the harbormaster and clerk. The commission needs to assess what activities are currently being outsourced to see if they can be internalized and compare Jamestown’s harbor operation with staffing models from surrounding communities, he said.

According to Town Council President Julio DiGiando, most of the council’s concerns are budgetary.

“My perception is that there is an urge by some (council mem- bers) to be more efficient,” he said. “Because we’re a small community we see these problems with the economy at scale and think, can’t we do better? That all got tied in with the talk of the budget.”

During a special meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 5, commissioners will discuss harbor operations and the perceived versus the actual functions of the staff. They will then make recommendations to the council regarding any changes in the budget and in employee responsibilities.

Fort Getty boat ramp

The Harbor Management Commission also moved a step closer to launching repairs to the boat ramp at Fort Getty, after it unanimously decided to move forward with drawings for assent by the Coastal Resources Management Commission for a maintenance certificate. If approved, it will allow for a 124-foot by 24-foot precast concrete ramp to replace the existing facility.

Approval for construction to the ramp may be difficult to obtain because the waters surrounding Fort Getty are Type 1 conservation areas. Because of that designation, the Harbor Management Commission

will request a maintenance permit that allows for the preservation of pre-existing structures.

“I think this is the best boat ramp we could do under the assent,” Commissioner Bob Bowen said. According to Bowen, the extension will bring the end of the boat ramp to two feet below water without doing any dredging.

“This means you’re going to be able to use the boat ramp in quite a long range of the tide,” he said.

The proposed ramp is three times the size of the current structure. According to Chairman Michael DiAngeli, “It’s way over the top.”

He reminded the commission that the goal is to build the best ramp possible under a maintenance permit.

“We need to be modest,” Di Angeli said.

Bowen, however, was confi- dent the plans would fall under the maintenance certificate. “If it goes forward as maintenance, maybe CRMC will come back and say you can’t make it that far,” he said. “They don’t give you just a yes or no. They’ll give you a yes, but…”

Future improvements still in the planning phase include the construction of a new fixed timber pier, including a touch-and-go float that would provide convenience for boaters and a place to temporarily dock their boats while they park their vehicles.

The total cost of the maintenance and new construction is estimated at $480,000 by Town Engineer Michael Gray.

Mooring procedure

Harbor procedure has now changed for mooring owners. Before a permit can be issued, a boat inspection must be handed in with the application.

The deadline for applications is May 15, and boaters then have a 30-day grace period to complete inspections before June 15. After that, all mooring applications are hit with a $100 late fee.

Although commissioners are sympathetic to busy lifestyles, they decided not to waive fees for late applications. If weather or time will inhibit a boater’s ability to complete the necessary inspections before the deadline in the future, they must call Sam Paterson, harbormaster, prior to missing the deadlines to avoid fines.

“Everyone has the same deadlines and the management of that process is your (the boater’s) responsibility,” Anderson said.

Harbor Clerk Kim Devlin reported that 38 mooring permits, mostly riparian, still had not been renewed.

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