2010-05-20 / News

Commission mulls fishing ban at East Ferry

By Iain Wilson

Representatives from Contech Construction Products Inc. met with members of the Harbor Management Commission during its meeting May 12 at Town Hall – a sign that work on the boat ramp at Ft. Getty could start soon.

Commissioners appeared enthused after the presentation by the Ohio-based company, which is likely to be awarded the contract to construct the ramp.

Tom Hennessy of Contech spoke to the commission about the benefits of ArmorFlex technology, a flexible matrix of concrete blocks used for erosion control.

He noted that the material has been used locally at Indian Run in South Kingstown and at Ft. Adams in Newport. The material is efficient enough that “it becomes a green solution,” he said.

According to a Contech company brochure, “ArmorFlex is easy to install and has a low life-cycle cost when compared to other permanent solutions.”

Estimated costs for installation are about half of what installing a traditional concrete ramp would be, according to Hennessy.

In addition to the cost-saving benefits, Hennessy said the environmental and aesthetic pluses are also worth noting.

In an interview after the meeting, Harbor Commission Chair Michael deAngeli said he saw no reason why Contech would not get the project bid.

In other business, the commission also discussed a potential ban on fishing on the docks at East Ferry.

Though deAngeli acknowledged that “banning fishing is politically impossible,” the commission made a recommendation to the Town Council that fishing be prohibited on the new touchand go docks.

DeAngeli noted that the pier was built partially with federal money, so the limitations are varied and sometimes complex. The ban is now subject to a Town Council vote.

The commission also acknowledged a delicate balance between visitors, boaters and those who fish off of the pier.

While the situation poses certain dangers, deAngeli said nonresidents have also posed problems in the past.

“We have had a problem here from time to time with out-oftowners,” he said, adding, “A few years ago, it got really bad.”

Litter, foul language and vandalism have all subsided since then. deAngeli said the implementation of a 10-person maximum on the pier’s outer float has helped.

Commissioner David Cain referred to the potential issues with tourists, saying, “We have to be prudent in what we allow in proximity to the tourists.”

Island resident Elena McCarthy spoke to the commission from her seat in the audience, saying, “I think to prohibit fishing would be a shame,” adding that her young son frequently fishes off of the pier.

DeAngeli shared the sentiment.

A May 2005 decision by the Town Council states that fishing is allowed only on the north face of the East Ferry concrete pier. Fishing is allowed on the East Ferry wood-pile pier, but casters must yield to boaters.

In 2007, the Town Council voted to allow fishing at East Ferry, but also requested money for 160 feet of extended pier, which is now the new touch-andgo docks.

Discussion of a fishing ban soon shifted to noise issues, particularly the issue of portable generators.

Though Conanicut Marine Operator Bill Munger said the generators are loud, deAngeli said, “I’d hate to pass another rule just to have another rule.”

Police Chief Thomas Tighe said there are standard procedures and limitations for dealing with noise, and that the department handles each situation accordingly.

The next meeting of the Harbor Management Commission will be Wednesday, June 9, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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