2011-01-13 / Letters to the Editor

Hike in mooring fees unwarranted

Jamestown is unlike other places when it comes to boats and access to the water. As a long, skinny island, Jamestown has a lot of water frontage to go along with its heritage and culture of boating.

Unfortunately, there are no good harbors and most boats live on moorings set into deep water, exposed to high winds and waves. In other places, a mooring can be a simple block and chain. Not so for Jamestown, thus the cost of maintaining a safe mooring in Jamestown is much higher than most places.

Fortunately, Jamestown has four boat yards that are highly proficient at not only maintaining safe moorings, but at providing all of the ancillary services for boaters such as parking, dockage, launch service, and full secure access to the water. These services come at no cost to the town – in fact it’s the opposite – the businesses pay fees to the town and add it to their pricing.

Directly or indirectly, every job on this island owes its existence to the boating industry. Merchants can compare January to July to get an idea of what it might be like without boats. The four boat yards employ more people than any other industry in the town, including the town itself.

In the larger context for boaters, Jamestown is at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the communities on Narragansett Bay. We are in the middle, and a bridge must be crossed to reach us. Due to the bad economy, marinas on the mainland have dropped prices for slips, putting extraordinary pressure on our island boat yards.

Now the Harbor Commission wants to raise rates by 24 percent? The boat yards already pay double the citizen rate for mooring fees and they have not been able to raise rates in three years. If the largest industry on this island is forced to bear this additional cost, then it will be even less competitive. Boaters will go elsewhere, and the whole town will suffer.

May I suggest that the town council embrace the hand that feeds all of our island businesses, and reject this inadvisable price hike directed at our citizens and employers?

William Tuthill


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