City Manager Joe Slocum told the Harbor Advisory Committee the city will be hiring Gartley & Dorsky Engineering and Surveying as its inner harbor design consultant April 1.

Slocum said the decision to hire Gartley & Dorsky came from their familiarity with Belfast Harbor — they designed the proposed expansion of Thompson's Wharf — and with their success in designing a float plan for Camden Harbor.

According to Gartley & Dorsky it will look into improving the "Inner Harbor Layout to maximize usage of the city's Inner Harbor." To do this the company will survey the existing conditions in the harbor, do a bathymetric study of the harbor bottom, conduct individual stakeholder meetings, and review the location of the current channel. Gartley & Dorsky will use that information to develop a "master plan" with new float and mooring placements, as well as estimated construction costs.

The entire process will take four to five months to complete and will cost around $20,000. The harbor committee felt the stake holders meetings were an especially important aspect of the process and plans to meet with Gartley & Dorsky as a committee following those meetings.

Committee member Alex Allmayer Beck suggested one method Gartley & Dorsky could look into for increasing the efficiency of the harbor layout.

"The single biggest impediment to the inner harbor layout is the single-point mooring," Allmayer Beck said. "The answer is floats and two-point moorings."

Will Gartley of Gartley & Dorsky said the company is ready to begin work on the study. He said he would be able to have a boat in the harbor to begin the survey in early April.

Thompson's Wharf public hearing

The Harbor Advisory Committee re-held a public hearing on the proposed upgrade to Thompson's Wharf at its March 19 meeting. The committee voted to recommend to the planning board that the city be granted the necessary permits to move forward.

Wayne Canning, a Belfast fisherman, spoke in favor of approving the project.

At its February meeting the committee had voted to recommend the project not be granted approval by the planning board due to it encroaching on the Inner Harbor channel — at the time the committee thought the channel would be reduced to 65-feet. However, at a work session March 3 Gartley told the committee an error on the plan that was presented to them showed the channel as narrower than it would actually be. The plan would actually allow for a 75-foot channel.

The proposed rebuild would would push the wharf out to the channel buffer and effectively double the amount of slip space from the existing 400 linear feet to 800 linear feet. It would also add four new slips and would deepen the existing slips, according to previously published reports.

SHIP projects

Harbormaster Katherine Pickering told the committee she would have to submit project ideas to the state by the end of March in order for them to be eligible for Small Harbor Improvement Project grant funding.

Pickering requested the committee brainstorm ideas for projects to include. Committee member David Black suggested putting a wave attenuator at the entrance to the inner harbor would be a good project for SHIP funding. Other projects suggested included electrical upgrades to City Landing, tiling the bathrooms at City Landing and doing mooring repairs.