Vital workshop for mooring holders
Notice to all mooring owners and anyone renting a mooring in Jamestown waters: It is in your best interest to attend the upcoming workshop of the Town Council with the Harbor Management Commission on Monday, July 18 at 7 p.m.
As a member of the Jamestown Waterfront Authority in the 1970s, the Harbor Management Commission in the 1980s and part of the 1990s, I can recall no decision by the commission to pay for townowned infrastructure. In the early days of the Waterfront Authority and continuing with the commission, there was no Harbor Ordinance, no mooring fees, and the harbormaster was a volunteer. In the 1980s, when the new ordinance was written, all funds collected from private mooring owners and commercial rental moorings were to provide funds for the water-related operations of approximately 18 miles of shoreline.
Funds were collected for the harbormaster and harbor clerk’s salaries, the harbormaster’s boat and its maintenance, boat ramp repair and maintenance, fairway buoys, town touch-and-go floats, and assorted supplies. Rental and outhaul fees at East and West ferry docks are for the maintenance and upkeep of those facilities.
The waterfront parking lots at East and West ferries, held in place by seawalls or bulkheads, are for the enjoyment and use of all Jamestowners. These lots are used by people for shopping at stores, having coffee or ice cream, sitting to watch the boating, or strolling along the seawall looking out at the East or West passages. These lots, seawalls, bulkheads, sidewalks and safety railings are all part of Jamestown infrastructure and can be used by anybody. It is the responsibility of all Jamestown taxpayers to pay for and maintain these town properties. Mooring owners should not be responsible for paying for town properties not associated with moorings.
For 300 years Jamestown has built and maintained its infrastructure without singling out a specific group to fund roadwork and the ferry landings. Now they have found a way to raise money from a source that isn’t organized to stop it.
I have heard from members of the commission that we in Jamestown are not in line with other nearby communities regarding mooring fees. Moorings along the Jamestown shore are not the same as moorings in congested Newport or Wickford harbors; they don’t have approximately 18 miles of shoreline with little protection that is open to all conditions. They are sheltered harbors with breakwaters and more protection so their fees should be higher.
The fees collected from private and commercial moorings were to my knowledge never intended to be used for Jamestown infrastructure. There is plenty of income being made from the mooring fees to pay for all of the intended use and have a surplus. Fees have constantly risen faster than the cost of the things this money was intended for and there should be no need to raise this tax again.