Board Discusses Increasing Town Marine Staff, Boats
By: James Kinsella
At a workshop last night, the Barnstable Waterways Committee grappled with the concept of increasing town staff and equipment to encourage better use of the moorings permitted by the town.
Numbers including a $50,000 annual increase for more staff and a capital expenditure of $50,000 for more boats were floated at the meeting, held at the Marine and Environmental Affairs office on Phinney’s Lane in Centerville.
Committee members want to explore what sort of revenue is needed to improve mooring enforcement in the town.
The town permits about 2,500 moorings.
The committee is frustrated by permitted moorings that sit empty for much of the boating season while people sit for years on waiting lists for particular harbors, as well as by the use of moorings by people who are not permitted to use those moorings.
Town mooring officer and assistant harbor master Joseph Gibbs told the committee that he works hard. But given the available resources and his other responsibilities, he said he does a “mediocre” job on mooring enforcement.
At present, Mr. Gibbs said, he is assisted by one seasonal mooring officer.
The town uses a 16-foot skiff and sometimes a 13-foot boat to inspect the mooring fields.
“We can’t do the whole town in a year,” he said of mooring enforcement.
Committee member Frederick “Ted” Komenda called for a “wish list” from Mr. Gibbs for resources to improve mooring enforcement.
“Isn’t that what we need to move forward?” Mr. Komenda asked.
Otherwise, he said, the committee is caught in a cycle of seeking better mooring management, only to be told that the resources are not available.
“If we don’t do any of this, we’re sitting here talking to ourself,” Mr. Komenda said.
Mr. Gibbs said he works for Daniel Horn, the town harbor master and the director of marine and environmental affairs for the town.
In that light, the committee intends to request a meeting with Mr. Horn to discuss the issue of resources.
John F. Meade, chairman of the waterways committee, said the committee represents the residents of the town.
Mr. Meade said the committee, which is advisory, can act as an advocate on mooring concerns in discussions with town management and the Barnstable Town Council.
He said he is seeking “the highest and best use of the water sheet out there.”
Committee members Robert Hazelton and Paul Everson further said boating safety enforcement in the town has decreased even as the use of the water has increased.
Mr. Komenda asked, “Are we even responsibly running these waterways?”
At the workshop, the committee also discussed a proposal from Mr. Meade under which an organization or event sponsor could obtain a special permit from the town to make use of temporarily make use of a number of moorings.
The committee also reviewed a proposal that would open rental moorings in town to a wider group of potential users.
At present, people who have obtained permits for rental moorings are restricted to finding users who are on certain harbor waiting lists.
Also at last night’s workshop, Michael Trovato, the town’s economic development specialist, said the town could take steps to arrange for rentals of temporarily available moorings to visitors for a day or two, as is the practice in Edgartown and Nantucket.
Mr. Trovato said the practice could generate revenue for the town.
He said the practice also could increase local commerce, as visitors to a harbor, such as in Hyannis, could then patronize on-shore restaurants and stores.
The specialist also suggested allowing mooring permit holders to not put boats on those moorings for a year or two.
The town could then arrange to bring in other users for that period of time. The mooring permit holder would continue to pay his annual fee. The temporary user also would pay an annual fee.
That way, the mooring could generate twice the money for that period of time.
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