City seeks to address inner harbor space issues
Belfast — The city is considering options to maximize space within the inner harbor by relocating existing moorings and moored floats, as well as cracking down on non-compliant and abandoned moorings.
City Manager Joseph Slocum told councilors during a Tuesday, Jan. 15, meeting that the increased demand on space in the inner harbor, because of the expansion of Front Street Shipyard and requests by small business owners to expand commercial operations in that area, requires further reorganization to determine how much space is available.
The inner harbor is defined as the area between the city landing and the Armistice Footbridge.
A city ordinance requires moorings be inspected every two years, and a record of the inspection must be filed with the Harbormaster. The ordinance also states that any mooring that is not used 50 percent of the time for three consecutive months is considered abandoned.
Slocum did acknowledge that some owners have had issues with getting their moorings inspected because they were waiting for the inspector to do the work.
Harbormaster Katherine Pickering said eight or nine moorings were pulled in 2012 for non-compliance with the city ordinance. She noted that the economy impacts moorings, because some owners can no longer afford to maintain them and instead choose to abandon them.
To address the space constraints, Slocum outlined four recommendations in his manager’s report for the how the city can approach the inner harbor. He suggested the city “move with all speed” to make sure the moorings and floats are in compliance with the city ordinance; that Pickering relocate any moorings she needs to; that Pickering and the Harbor Advisory Committee discuss whether any new moorings should be added; and that Pickering and the committee better define “commercial use” within the inner harbor.
Councilor Mike Hurley said the city could look at a way to calm the waters closer to the boathouse –– possibly through the use of small wave attenuators — in order to create more space within the harbor.
“We need to start to figure out a way to make this harbor bigger. Either we need to calm it, or go further upriver,” Hurley said.
Local boat builder Steve Garrand is one of the small-business owners looking for space within the inner harbor for commercial purposes. Garrand submitted a proposal to the Council more than a month ago outlining his plans for a service marina.
In his proposal, Garrand said he envisions the service marina would be composed of four floating docks located within the inner harbor that are not attached to the shore.
One of the docks would be larger than the rest in order to accommodate a small building that would be used for storage. The remaining floats would be what Garrand described as “standard size,” with a deck box on each one.
In addition, Garrand said a barge of some kind — possibly a pontoon deck boat with a loading ramp — would be essential to operations in order to ferry supplies and workers to and from the service marina from the city launch ramp.
“I am not proposing to run a full-service marina, but to provide a place where independent boat yards and other commercial users can conduct activities essential to their businesses,” Garrand wrote in his proposal.
Garrand, who attended the Jan. 15 Council meeting, told councilors his proposal is “off the table” until questions about how the inner harbor is going to be utilized are answered.
Belmont Boatworks owner Dan Miller also attended the meeting and said he supported Garrand’s proposal because it would give other businesses the opportunity to work on boats in Belfast. Miller explained that he did not locate his business in Belfast because of a lack of available space along the waterfront.
The discussion concluded with Slocum telling councilors that the city would move forward with “all due haste” to address the inner harbor issues.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.