2014-08-21 / News

Board mulls kayak cap at Fort Getty

By Margo Sullivan

The Harbor Management Commission at its meeting last week agreed to cap the number of beach permits issued for Fort Getty, Head’s Beach and East Ferry.

A cap is already in effect at Maple Avenue, the fourth location where residents are allowed to store kayaks and other small watercraft on racks.

At the request of Police Chief Ed Mello, the commissioners last year capped the number of permits at 60 for Maple Avenue but left the other locations open. Mello asked for the cap to relieve congestion, since the area was at capacity. The hope was that boaters would be encouraged to use the other locations.

This year the harbor office issued 57 permits for Maple Avenue. Although it’s late in the season to be asking for caps, Mello said, harbormaster Sam Paterson and harbor clerk Kim Devlin are currently working on a regulation book that will determine the maximum size of boats allowed on the beaches. He suggested that the caps could be incorporated into the book.

Mello said that the regulations are above and beyond the rules in the harbor ordinance, but would reflect long-standing practices.

Harbor Chairman Michael de Angeli questioned whether the panel has the authority to impose new rules without Town Council approval. Mello said that setting the rules was within the commission’s purview.

These types of rules, however, don’t have a place in the ordinance, Mello said, and really belong in a separate rulebook. The book would also list the taxes on beach permits.

“Maple Avenue is in pretty good shape,” he said. “It’s pretty well organized.”

Mello also said that the area was full, and he wouldn’t recommend adding any more boat racks.

Over the last couple of weeks, he said, the harbor office has issued 15 new beach permits for Fort Getty. Given the increased demand at that location, the plan is to install one or two new racks there.

At Head’s Beach in the Jamestown Shores, he said, improvements to the parking lot are in the works. He didn’t rule out installing another boat rack, although there is no plan at the moment.

Following Mello’s advice, the commissioners deferred action on the beach caps pending action on the new regulation book.

The regulation book also figured in a discussion during open forum about Mason Kelly’s status. In July, the commissioners allowed his aunt to transfer her mooring to him, but then Kelly received a notice that he only had two weeks to put a boat on the mooring.

During the hearing last month, Kelly indicated that he did not have a boat but was in the process of acquiring one. He was told he had a year of grace to put the boat on the mooring.

Recently, however, he was sent a letter saying that time was running out.

That seemed unnecessarily rushed, de Angeli said. He added that there is no authority in the ordinance to set a deadline.

Mello replied that it is another case of a longstanding practice.

“We told him that he could appeal to the commission if he so chose,” Mello said.

De Angeli said that the rush seemed like a hardship. Devlin said the situation was unique.

“We had never encountered a transfer to someone who wasn’t prepared to put a boat on the mooring,” she said.

Commissioner Bruce Dickinson said the issue about the boat had been raised at the hearing. Kelly said he would buy a boat “in a very short period of time,” according to his recollection.

“That’s precisely why he was granted the transfer,” said Dickinson, who voted against the transfer at the July hearing.

In new business, the commissioners discussed a letter from Lance Gershenoff, who is appealing the harbormaster’s decision not to allow him to delay installing a new mooring.

Gershenoff has been on the waiting list for 10 years. But when his name came up, he asked to delay until next season.

In his letter, Gershenoff explained that he has been ill and may not be able to use the mooring. He will know more about his physical capabilities in the spring. He said that he was concerned about purchasing the tackle and paying for the mooring installation in the meantime.

Paterson said he’s never approved a delay for an entire season. The typical procedure, he said, is that the town sends qualified residents certified letters. Residents then have to notify the harbor office whether or not they intend to accept the mooring.

“We give them 20 days to start the wheel in motion,” Paterson said.

“In my opinion, he should prove he has a boat,” Dickinson said. “I’d like to see him pay for his tackle and put it in the water.”

De Angeli and Commissioner Patrick Bolger said they wanted to be fair given the circumstances. Ultimately, the commissioners decided to send Gershenoff a note and ask him to appear at the September meeting and explain his side in person.

In other business, Mello reported that Jamestown has received a grant from the state to pay for refurbishing two pump outs. The total cost for the two separate projects is “roughly $30,000,” he said. The plan is also to enlarge the shed at West Ferry.

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