2010-06-17 / News

Town ready for summer boating season, says Harbor Commission

By Erin Tiernan

After a few repairs and new additions, Jamestown is ready to embrace recreational boaters and tourists visiting town docks this summer, the Harbor Management Commission reported during its meeting last Wednesday.

East Ferry has a new pump-out system, and docks at both East and West Ferry have been outfitted with signs citing regulations that Town Council liaison Bob Bowen said the council recently approved. They are intended to ensure that seafarers heed boat-parking limits and that fishermen yield to boats and passersby.

Although these rules are not new, adherence has historically been loose and enforcement has been difficult.

“The Town Council discussed hiring a student to work with a parking monitor for behavior monitoring and parking monitoring on the docks,” Bowen said. “It’s become an issue at West Ferry. The time limit over there has been kind of stretched.”

The council is in the process of developing a job description for this position, Bowen said.

But for now, Police Chief Thomas Tighe and Harbormaster Sam Paterson said both departments would work together diligently to enforce waterfront regulations. Harbor Commissioner Andrew Kallfelz suggested amending signs at the docks so they would include the numbers of the harbormaster and police offices. He said that this way, the public could help inform the authorities about violations.

Violations are frequent, Bowen said, because there aren’t enough spaces to service all the boaters who try to tie up here.

“Now’s the time to look at the engineering [at West Ferry],” he said. “By next year, we’re going to have to replace a lot of those floats.”

One change the Town Council did make to touch-and-go docking limits was the addition of a single three-hour space on the inboard side of the new East Ferry dock – a decision some locals and commissioners seemed to disagree with. All other touch-and-go spots have 30-minute limits.

“A three-hour limit is really a long time,” said Bill Munger, who owns Conanicut Marine Services. “Do we really want to do three hours on that dock?”

Munger said he often observed people tying their boats up and meandering for hours while parked in 30-minute spots. He said a longer parking allowance would only encourage this kind of behavior and deprive other boaters.

In other business, Paterson reported that he had awarded five new mooring permits. He said that when moorings are forfeited, current permit holders on the relocation list have first choice of any openings. He also said riparian property owners with mooring rights are always entitled to the first permit that opens, regardless of their position on the waitlist.

The Harbor Management Commission will next meet on Wednesday, July 14, at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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