Harbor discussions continue in Lincolnville
Lincolnville — Lincolnville Selectmen and Harbor Committee members continued a workshop discussion regarding the harbor Aug. 13, again restricting comments to the group but reassuring those in attendance there will be a time for public comment at a later date.
The group originally tackled the lengthy agenda in July with discussions of an annual meeting for Lincolnville and Islesboro officials, fresh water access on the pier, GPS locations of moorings, replacement of a third guest mooring and contacting people on the waiting list for moorings in the outer harbor.
Harbormaster Mike Hutchings updated selectmen on progress with contacting people on the waiting list and said three people responded to a letter and expressed an interest in a mooring. The other nine people have not yet responded and the deadline for responses is rapidly approaching, Hutchings said. He asked for direction from selectmen should other requests for outer moorings be received.
“If more people respond, what do we do? Start a new list or keep putting moorings in forever?” Hutchings asked.
Selectmen discussed placing a limit on the number of moorings but ultimately decided, due to consistency and the need for a vote to amend the harbor ordinance, it may not be possible to set a number. Hutchings said moorings are owned by the applicant, the town only assigns the space in which to place it, based on the size of the vessel. He said the number of moorings is, in part, determined by the available dock space for tender vessels and dinghies. According to the existing harbor ordinance, the harbormaster is responsible for determining if there is room for additional moorings.
“It’s almost like an egg and chicken thing,” Select Board Chairman Ladleah Dunn said. “The gray area is about as big as our outer harbor.”
The Ducktrap area was suggested as a possible place for expansion of moorings; Hutchings noted there is just one mooring there now.
“We could get six or eight small boats in there but it would be tidal access only,” he said, adding he expected there would be a fair amount of opposition from abutters.
Selectman Rosey Gerry pointed out that, historically, Ducktrap was the harbor for Lincolnville.
In regard to replacement of the third guest mooring, Hutchings said he received an estimate of $1,275 for a 3,500-pound mooring, delivered at low tide. After installation costs and labor, the cost would likely total more than $3,000, he said. Hutchings suggested waiting until spring to replace the mooring, as it is nearing the end of the boating season. He noted the third mooring was given to the town by Prock Marine following some work in the harbor and the town previously only offered two guest moorings. Average use of the three moorings is 15 percent, according to Hutchings. Dunn suggested the third mooring might be of interest to Islesboro residents. Harbor Committee member Shey Conover, representing Islesboro, said discussions with selectmen have been ongoing and of most importance is additional float and dock space, particularly for emergency medical transports. Conover said, too, the float available in the winter is most appreciated by Islesboro residents. She asked on selectmen’s behalf that there be better communication in regard to removal of other floats, though.
The group dove into discussions about a potential harbor study and creation of a strategic harbor plan. Selectman Art Durity said he has receive a lot of conflicting information and an independent study would allow for a more objective look at what the harbor is capable of in terms of physical use and economic potential.
“It would give us a clear analysis we can have faith in,” he said, adding a study would also provide the groundwork for a strategic plan for the harbor.
As selectmen were unsure as to which individuals would be qualified to create a harbor study, they turned to Town Administrator David Kinney. Kinney was directed to reach out to other town managers, as well as people at the state level for direction. Selectman Cathy Hardy objected to the cost of an outside party, citing her “Yankee frugality.” She suggested looking to local residents with experience in the marine field for a second opinion on the harbor rather than a full study. Selectman Jason Trundy said he agreed with Hardy’s concerns regarding cost.
“I’d be cautious about spending a whole lot of money on a plan,” he said, adding it would be wise to limit the suggested projects or improvements. “I think any study done should include a rough cost estimate of those things.”
Gerry inquired about money leftover from the Comprehensive Plan; Kinney said there is funding available and selectmen have the discretion to allocate it. He said he would gather as much information as possible before progressing.
“You can burn through consultant dollars really quickly,” Kinney said.
Hutchings also noted the need to work with Maine Department of Transportation, as the state owns and operates the ferry terminal.
Addressing dinghy space, Harbor Committee member Shane Laprade suggested instituting a permit fee system and consideration of expanding space for dinghies. He said commercial users should be offered space before recreational users and perhaps pay a lower fee. Hutchings said many harbors with a fee system have full-time harbormasters -- which he is not -- and he added Lincolnville does not need a full-time position.
Hardy asked Hutchings and Assistant Harbormaster Kendall Smith if they have a set schedule between them to make sure someone is available all of the time. Hutchings said they do not but he is available via cell phone at all hours.
“If we’re not directly there, we’re not far,” Hutchings said. “I’m probably down there more than anyone else is.”
Kinney pointed out there is nearly always someone manning the ferry terminal during the day as well, and they help transient boaters and point them in the right direction. Hutchings said there also is an informational sheet posted at the ferry terminal with his phone number and general harbor information.
Harbor Committee member Brian Cronin speculated about the status of the harbormaster and assistant harbormaster. Kinney noted town appointment papers state the positions are valid “until June 2014 or until replaced.”
After nearly two and a half hours of discussions, selectmen decided to set a third, and what they hope will be final, workshop for Thursday, Aug. 21, at 6 p.m at the town office to finish the agenda. Items remaining for discussion are the Harbor Committee recommendations and a generic other items category.
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.
Stephanie also was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has nearly a decade of experience in the newspaper business ranging from southern and central Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and chickens.