New harbor plan gets nod from panel
The Jamestown Harbor Commission voted unanimously to pass both the harbor management plan and the harbor management ordinance during its Dec. 9 meeting. The commission also heard a presentation on a potential switch to Internet-based mooring management.
Brad Hurley of Fandotech of Manchester, Conn. presented the company’s online mooring technology to the group. The town currently uses a program that was developed specifically for Jamestown by an out-of-state company, but Harbor clerk Kim Devlin said the current system is several years old and doesn’t perform optimally.
“There are a lot of issues with accessibility and statistical information,” she said. “I don’t really have much confidence in the data that I get from it.”
Two Rhode Island communities, Portsmouth and Middletown, already use the Fandotech system to manage their mooring data. The first community to implement the program was Shelter Harbor, N.Y., and Hurley said reviews over the last two years are reason for enthusiasm. The application can optimize the way the town manages its waiting lists and mooring permits, keeps track of mooring coordinates and processes payments, he said.
After the presentation, Hurley said that the benefits of online mooring extend beyond the administrative side of operations.
“It also helps to better manage where things are in the harbor by visualizing where the moorings are,” he said. Using Google Maps, the application can create images of the bay, including all moorings, as well as the diameter that each mooring’s chain can swing, thus alerting boaters to any potential problems. The system would be accessible from phones with Internet capability, thereby streamlining the laborintensive work of the harbormaster, who must verify that the correct boat is on each mooring at intervals during the season.
Commission members agreed to meet to further discuss the online mooring – and a potential contract – at a date to be announced. Harbor Commission chair Michael deAngeli said that although the commission was impressed with the presentation, it is required to solicit bids before signing a contract.
During his presentation, Hurley explained that every person who owns a mooring can access information in the system’s database concerning his or her mooring, and can apply for renewal online. The cost of the system would be $5 per application, Hurley said.
Members of the commission agreed that if the system is implemented, the $5 fee would be tacked onto the standard mooring fee boaters now pay. The $5 fee would be required of mooring holders who prefer to submit their application in person or by mail, since the harbor clerk would need to input the data into the system. Those on the waiting list would not be required to pay any additional fee.
After months of fine-tuning terminology and eliminating inconsistencies, the commission voted unanimously to pass both the comprehensive harbor plan and the harbor management ordinance, both of which are required by the Coastal Resources Management Council. Both are vital to the commission’s operations, but deAngeli said the two documents function quite differently.
“The plan says ‘these are our goals, these are the problems that we have to address,’” he said. “The ordinance says ‘these are the rules under which we operate.’”
CRMC requires that groups of moorings outside of recognized harbors be formally recognized as “mooring areas” and has required Jamestown to recognize three mooring areas around the island. The proposed mooring areas are located at Head’s Beach, Cranston Cove and at Park Dock at Conanicut Park.
Creating these mooring areas isn’t extremely difficult, deAngeli said.
“We draw a line in the water,” he said. “It doesn’t mean anything. If there wasn’t room for additional moorings there before, there won’t be now.”
The major change, deAngeli said, is that the commission is not allowed to permit any additional non-riparian moorings outside of these mooring areas and the harbors, adding that Jamestown has historically placed moorings liberally around the island. Moorings that have been created in various spots will be allowed to remain where they are, but no new moorings will be allowed in such places, he said.
Both the comprehensive harbor plan and the harbor management ordinance have been forwarded to the town council for review and public comment.
Wednesday’s meeting marked the last for commission members Wendy Waller and Rick Anderson, who reached the end of their terms, and for Bob Bowen, who has been elected to the Town Council. The council is now interviewing applicants for three new members.