2013-02-21 / Front Page

Waterfront not harmed in blizzard

Repairs still needed due to damage done by Sandy
BY MARGO SULLIVAN

The waterfront came through the blizzard and nor’easter with “insignificant damage,” Police Chief Ed Mello told the Harbor Commission at its Feb. 13 meeting.

Mello, the Harbor Department’s executive director, said the town is still talking with the Federal Emergency Management Agency about the repairs on the East Ferry steel pier that was damaged in Hurricane Sandy.

The cost has been estimated at $100,000 and FEMA is expected to pay for 75 percent of the work, according to Mello. The Public Works Department has done some work on the decking on top of the pier. The rest of the job calls for rebuilding the pier’s underside, plus repairs to the electrical systems and pumpouts.

But Town Engineer Mike Gray would like to add another $15,000 capital project “as an alternate” on the bid documents. That job would replace the pumpouts, instead of fixing them, Mello said.

“The vendor himself has been suggesting replacement every year due to age and repairs,” Mello said.

Mello suggested Harbor Clerk Kim Devlin could apply for a grant to cover the pumpout replacement costs.

In other business, the harbor commissioners rejected Michael Egan’s appeal to regain his moor- ing space.

Egan, of 9 Champlin Way, went to the Harbor Commission meeting in the hope he could get his mooring back if he paid the overdue fee and penalties.

“I never paid my mooring fees,” Egan said. “I really don’t have an excuse.”

He said he was throwing himself on the commissioners’ mercy, but he lost his appeal.

According to de Angeli, under the new harbor ordinance, once a mooring holder has forfeited the space, the commissioners have virtually no discretion to undo the damage.

The panel voted 5-0 to deny Egan’s appeal but noted he has the right to appeal the decision to the Town Council.

Commissioner David Cain said the commissioners would be setting a bad precedent if they granted Egan’s appeal. De Angeli agreed.

“If we grant it, that would be a precedent that would take all the teeth out of the mooring permit regulations,” de Angeli said. “I hate to do it, but we have the rules for a reason.”

Egan acknowledged he had received several notices about the mooring fees but neglected to pay. He said he has held the mooring, which is “just south of the Newport Bridge,” for 10 years and was late paying the fee once before.

“Did you have a boat on it?” de Angeli asked.

“Yes,” Egan replied.

Bolger verified the space was not a riparian mooring and asked if the harbor office had already given the space to another boater.

“No,” de Angeli said. “Not yet, I suppose.”

But he was concerned about the fact Egan had used the mooring all summer long but had not paid the fees.

“We have the ordinance in place so we clear moorings that are not being paid for,” de Angeli said. “And if you have a boat on it, you’re not paying for it.”

Before they voted, the commissioners studied the ordinance language in the section for mooring forfeiture.

Commissioner Ed McGuirl said according to the language, the mooring holder would be fined $100 per month for failing to renew an existing permit by June 15. If the fees remained unpaid, the mooring space would be considered forfeited on Oct. 1 and would not be renewed.

Egan could have appealed within 30 days, but he didn’t, de Angeli said.

Finally, the harbor commissioners continued to grapple with budget numbers and encountered problems with their long-term infrastructure budget. Now they will notify the town administrator and finance director they may want to ask the Town Council for a onemonth extension before presenting the harbor budget for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.

The commissioners also indicated they cannot afford to pay for half of the $300,000 East Ferry seawall repairs. They plan to ask the Town Council to overturn its decision to use mooring and other harbor fees for town projects. Under the new deal, the mooring and harbor fees would be used to pay for “all water-based infrastructure,” while town-collected leases and transfers would pay for landbased assets.

Bolger said if the Harbor Commission is required to pay for part of the seawall repair, it will be dealing with red ink, specifically with “negative infrastructure reserves going forward.”

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