Finding a town-owned dinghy dock

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 10:15am
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The Harbors Committee does not want a repeat of this past season’s dinghy dock situation.

At its most recent meeting on Thursday, the group moved forward on finding a solution. The problems started earlier this year when the Block Island Boat Basin, which is privately held, but has for years supplied space for transient boaters to tie up their dinghies, cut the available space in half.

Committee member Charles Gustafson has been obtaining prices and schematics for docks and had arranged for a custom dock maker from Plymouth, Massachusetts to participate in the meeting by phone. When asked to give a one-minute overview of his business, Andy Costa, co-owner of Alumatech Marine Inc. said he was a “designer of custom water access points,” and had installed docks “all up and down the East Coast.” Having talked previously with Gustafson, he said: “your situation – you’re looking for a dinghy dock with a gangway that’s removable in winter.” 

Committee members had many questions regarding the modular docks, ranging from materials, to pricing, to ADA requirements. The Committee was most interested in 10- by 28-foot docks sections, which would cost approximately $9,800 each, depending on the size of the floats supporting them.

As for the ramps, or gangways, in order to be Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, which the committee members agreed would probably be necessary as they would be a public facility, Costa said the ramps needed to be 48 inches across and no longer than 80 feet. Slope is also a factor. A basic 48-inch ramp is $170 per linear foot. Add-on options such as rails are an additional $20 per foot.

When asked how many dinghies needed to be accommodated, Harbormaster Steve Land said that on a busy holiday weekend there could be 500 dinghies, but on a “typical” weekend, there were anywhere from 100 to 300. “When the money runs out, that’s when we stop building,” said Land. 

After the conference call ended, Vice-chair Arlene Tunney said: “The question is: how do we get $100,000 from the town?”

Land suggested writing a letter to the Town Council.

Member Carl Kaufmann said, “It seems timely. The Town Council requested it from Harbors anyway,” referring to a recent Council meeting where it was suggested that the Committee approach the dinghy dock and possibly related harbors facility on a step-by-step basis.

The location for the docks has not yet been resolved, but the Harbors Committee will be reaching out to the Wronowski family, which owns Dead Eye Dick’s, about utilizing a strip of land they own between the restaurant and Payne’s Dock. 

“Remember, we said ‘that could be moved’” said Kaufmann of the lack of a specific location.

Chair Denny Heinz said he liked the idea of tying the docks to moorings instead of attaching them to pilings, which are more permanent in nature. 

As for how many dock segments could be had, Land said: “If we build a 10-foot dock, that’s 100 percent better than we have now.”

Lack of dinghy dock space for transient boaters is not the only problem. Correspondence from a summer resident reads: “There is another group of boaters that need a dinghy dock solution, town residents who just want to get access to their boats. I do not feel like residents are being considered in this discussion. We need somewhere to keep our dinghy overnight.”

Tunney said people in such a situation should be renting a space for their dinghies. Member Gary Pollard disagreed.

“This has never come up before,” said Heinz. 

“Seems to me we’re talking about a new type of dinghy dock — one for residents,” said Kaufmann. 

To that end, Tunney made a motion to put the matter of a rental dinghy dock on the agenda for the Harbors Committee’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 16.