Panel mulls over harbor responsibilities
The Jamestown Harbor Management Commission discussed the lack of clarity regarding which town department is responsible for funding harbor-related infrastructure at its meeting last week.
Following a presentation by Public Works Director Michael Gray on a draft of the Asset Management Plan, Commissioner Andrew Kallfelz was the first to cite the problem at the commission’s Feb. 9 meeting.
Kallfelz praised the comprehensive 14-page report for documenting all of the town’s water-based assets including piers, boat ramps, outhauls, bulkheads and seawalls.
Placing no blame on Gray, Kallfelz said that the issue of responsibility and funding has been around for some time. Kallfelz objected to the cover letter language: “This plan was developed to provide a document identifying waterfront infrastructure that the harbor commission is responsible for maintaining and to assist in the planning and budgeting of improvements.”
Kallfelz said that the language appears to give the responsibility of all of the town’s harbor-side assets to the commission.
He explained, “Nowhere in the ordinance [is the harbor commission] responsible for any infrastructure.”
Kallfelz acknowledged that the mooring-fee structure is inexorably tied to a workable definition of the harbor commission’s infrastructure responsibilities.
The question remains, Kallfelz said, “What are we really responsible for and how are we going to pay for it?”
Chairman Michael de Angeli indicated that this would be a matter for the Town Council to sort out. He said that the council should determine who is responsible for waterside infrastructure and how maintenance and replacement will be funded.
Gray reminded the group that his report was only a draft document and that he expects there to be multiple versions. He said that it was prepared as an aid to the commission’s budget planning and the document helps answer the question, “What is the harbor commission responsible for and what should be done about it?”
This relationship between assets, responsibilities and funding will take center stage at the Feb. 22 hearing on the Harbor Management Ordinance and Comprehensive Harbor Management Plan, which is being held by the Town Council.
Pat Bolger, former harbor commission chairman, said that the harbor commission should be responsible only for “floating infrastructure.” Don Richardson, another former commissioner, spoke directly to the issue of the seawalls, saying that “mooring holders should not pay for the seawall; that is the taxpayer’s responsibility.”
The commissioners thanked Gray for the document that was prepared with assistance from Bolger and Commissioner Susan Little. Commissioner Edward McGuirl said that the document is “a good road map.”
Kallfelz recommended that costs somehow be attached to the assets that were outlined in Gray’s document so that items could be divided between routine maintenance and capital improvements.
The commission agreed that by assigning dollar values to the assets identified in the management plan, whoever is found to be responsible for maintenance and replacement – the harbor commission, the town, or taxpayers – could begin to project the amount of revenue necessary to fund the projects.
The commission agreed to wait until the public hearing on Feb. 22 to take further action regarding the Asset Management Plan.
A year-to-date budget review was also discussed. Several commissioners were looking for the Ft. Getty ramp fees as a line item under revenue. Kallfelz explained that the money would likely appear as a “journal-entry transfer…just for ramp fees” at the end of the fiscal year.
He reminded the group that 2010-2011 is the first year that a portion of the Ft. Getty fees, including $17,000 for parking-space rentals for boat trailers, are being assigned to the revenue side of the harbor commission budget.
Harbor Clerk Kim Devlin said that she would look into the details of the process and report back.
In the clerk’s report, Devlin explained that the 155 spaces on the wait list for moorings have yet to be renewed and were due by Feb. 15. She added that the grace period ends Feb. 28. Documentation made available to the commission prior to the meeting indicated that of the 178 wait-list spaces, six were renewed and seven were not.
In the absence of Town Council liaison Bob Bowen, de Angeli announced that the council had passed both the revised Harbor Management Ordinance and the Comprehensive Harbor Management Plan. This was done in order to go to press with the hearing date and with the understanding that the Feb. 22 public hearing would provide both feedback and an opportunity to change the documents before implementation.
Little, the liaison to the Jamestown Planning Commission, reported that the language in the harbor plan needed to reflect the Jamestown Comprehensive Community Plan language regarding parking needs. The community plan does not acknowledge a parking problem, while the harbor ordinance suggests that it is an issue. Little said that the planning commission would like the harbor ordinance to reflect the findings of the community plan. de Angeli invited Maureen Coleman, liaison to the Jamestown Conservation Commission, to speak about issue of conservation zones as they appear in the harbor ordinance.
Coleman invited any interested member of the harbor commission to join the conservation commission in a special work session to better define the Dutch Harbor Conservation Zone, which is a large triangular conservation zone located between Dutch Harbor, Ft. Getty and Dutch Island. de Angeli made the point that “reasonable [conservation] areas are easier to enforce,” and Kallfelz suggested that it would be beneficial to “define the obvious [conservation] areas first.”
Kallfelz also suggested that the public beach at Mackerel Cove seems to conflict directly with the conservation zone located there and that the pollutants created by swimmers and sun bathers “on a hot day in July” would likely surpass the potential pollutants created by boats off Dutch Island.
Coleman said that one approach might include a thorough examination of the triangular conservation zone of Dutch Harbor delineating the specific reasons why it is labeled as such.
Referencing memos from former conservation commission Chairman Chris Powell, Coleman said that the conservation commission was also seeking a change in the harbor ordinance that would no longer permit anchoring a boat anywhere in the Dutch Harbor Conservation Zone. Currently the language prevents overnight anchoring. de Angeli recommended that the conservation commission send a letter to the Town Council and copy the harbor commission regarding the request. There was some discussion concerning the viability of such a request given the difficulty of making visiting boaters aware of the restriction and enforcing it.
McGuirl agreed to attend the workshop meeting that would conduct a detailed examination of the Dutch Harbor zone.
Concerning boat storage on town-owned land, Little suggested that adding an annual permit to the seasonal option might address the 16 boats currently stored at the end of Maple Avenue and the one kayak that has spent the winter on the beach at East Ferry.
Little pointed out that the 17 boats in question should legitimately be removed from their current locations and taken to the Jamestown Police Station, and their owners fined.
As an alternative, the boat owners could purchase an annual permit at a greater cost allowing them lawful access to their boats year round and thereby providing additional revenue to the town. The issue was not resolved.
The next meeting of the harbor commission is scheduled for March 9 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.