2010-01-21 / Front Page

Mooring fee hike weighed

Public gets to comment on Jan. 27
By Iain Wilson

In its first meeting of the New Year last Wednesday, Jamestown’s Harbor Commission touched on a handful of items that may have implications for island residents and boaters in 2010 – as well as much farther down the line.

An extensive discussion waged over various permit fees for the upcoming boating season. An increase in fees for 2010 is under serious consideration, and a special meeting for the public will be held Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

During that public meeting, Harbor Commission Budget Manager Chris Brown will present a 10% bump in fees across the board. The commission will also assess the financial feasibility of changes, according to commission Chair Michael DeAngeli.

Currently, residents pay $3.35 per foot to hang boats on town moorings. Under the proposed fee increase, that cost goes to $3.69 per foot. Non-residents and commercial operators pay $6.70 per foot. That rate would increase to $7.37 per foot.

Boaters with a commercial fishing license currently pay $420 for an outhaul at Ft. Getty or West Ferry. An outhaul for boaters without a fishing license in the same locations costs $480. A 10% increase would bring the totals to $462 and $528, respectively.

The change would also bring the cost of having a public dockage at the East Ferry Wood Pile Pier or Ft. Getty dock up to $44 per foot for commercial vessels and $88 per foot for pleasure vessels.

The current harbor rates were put in place in 2007.

In other issues, DeAngeli said he didn’t expect positive public response to a recent Coastal Resources Management Council regulation change concerning mooring permits.

“People are going to be pretty upset,” he said, adding that the CRMC has added to its regulations, limiting “the transfer of a private mooring permit to an immediate family member to a onetime basis.”

This change counteracts somewhat of a tradition in Jamestown, where hard-to-come-by moorings are generally passed from generation to generation.

But DeAngeli said it’s not exactly clear whether this is actual law or just a guideline.

He has asked Chief Tigh to have Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero follow up on the ordinance.

“If the solicitor says it has the force of law, then we’ll have to put it in,” he said.

Jamestown has its own harbor ordinance, but CRMC does have the power to make such decisions over towns. Currently, there is no generational limit in Jamestown’s harbor ordinance, and DeAngeli is passionate about keeping it that way.

“It’s important to keep that ordinance in place,” he said.

Jamestown residents won’t have the opportunity to vote on the ordinance, but they are allowed to comment publicly on it, said Harbor Clerk Kim Devlin.

DeAngeli also said that it may be only a guideline, but if it passes as law, the response around the island could be justifiably bitter.

“This is a family-oriented community, and I think a lot of people are going to be annoyed at the fact that they won’t be able to keep their mooring,” he said.

The commission also discussed progress on the online mooring technology presented during its previous meeting by a representative from Fandotech, the company bidding for the rights to implement the technology.

A contract with the company was supposed to be agreed upon, but at last Wednesday’s meeting, the commission expressed its disappointment with the provider’s shortcomings on important contract items.

DeAngeli said the company hasn’t come through on several items, adding, “They didn’t put in any provisions limiting their right to terminate the contract. They can terminate at the drop of a hat. That’s not equitable.”

The town could terminate, but would need to give several months notice, he said.

Fandotech failed to include any terms for its responsibility of uploading all of the mooring information to its database, something DeAngeli said is “absolutely critical to the process.”

He said that if problems arise within the system, the town needs to know that it won’t be charged for phone support and debugging fees. At the time of the meeting, this was not guaranteed either, he said.

The commission expressed frustration because most of the items were discussed with the company.

Prior to the finalization of the contract, “we had a special meeting to discuss the contract and said, ‘We need this and this and this changed,’” DeAngeli said.

During the meeting, the commission also elected new officials for the 2010. DeAngeli will stay on as chair, while Kallfelz will remain as vice chair. Chris Brown will report on the budget and Susan Little will take over reports on facilities.

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