Agenda snafu stifles dinghy dock discussion

Moved to next Town Council meeting
Fri, 08/04/2017 - 10:15am

The much anticipated Town Council meeting to discuss complaints concerning the dinghy dock at the Block Island Boat Basin did not happen due to an apparent agenda snafu. While the agenda noted on ClerkBase for Wednesday’s meeting contained an item three, “discuss boaters’ concerns regarding lack of dinghy dock,” copies of the agenda circulated to the public at the meeting did not include the item. The dinghy dock topic will be discussed at the Town Council’s next meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 7 at 7 p.m.

Due to the agenda snafu, the meeting was a two-and-a-half hour discussion about revisions being made to harbor ordinances in the harbor management plan that hasn’t been revised since 1991. Throughout the discussion a room comprised of about 30 boaters interjected their thoughts concerning the lack of dinghy dock space at the boat basin. In fact, prior to the meeting, Jeff Tkacs, the Vice Commodore of the Pt. Judith Yacht Club and boating enthusiasts Jackie and Alton Evans discussed their disapproval of the dinghy dock and boater accommodations at New Harbor, noting that a harbor facility is needed on the shoreline near the Ball O’Brien property.

A boater, who is a Rhode Island taxpayer and has been visiting New Harbor for the past 30 years, voiced his frustrations. “You all talk about the dinghy dock at the Boat Basin. You’ve made this much more complex than it has to be,” he said. “You guys are like out in space. You’re out in Saturn.” The man said a dinghy dock space and shower facility need to be provided by the town. He was not interested in hearing about multiple issues with the harbor’s plan and a riparian moorings issue.

“We’re trying to please the Coastal Resources Management Council,” said Harbors Committee member Erik Elwell. “They’re telling us to do this.”

“I understand,” the man said. “You need to address some basic principles. Just pick five priorities... What do you want to be as a town? What do you want to be as a community? What services do you want to provide?” 

Second Warden Norris Pike, who was acting as First Warden in the absence of First Warden Ken Lacoste, thanked the man for his comments. “I think we’re on the same page with a lot of what you said. These are regulations that we have to discuss on a regular basis,” said Pike, referring to the ordinances in the harbor management plan. “I understand what you mean by ‘five priorities,’ but it’s never that simple.”

The Town Council took a recess after discussing the first two items on the agenda. At that time, some members of the public filed out of Town Hall, while a few remained to see if the dinghy dock discussion would be heard.

When the Town Council returned to the chamber Pike made a motion to move the dinghy dock discussion to the Council’s next meeting due to what he said was “some confusion.” That motion was seconded by Council member Martha Ball. For clarification, Councilor André Boudreau said, “The agenda that was printed, and distributed to everybody, did not include this item. The official one did. So for better posting we’re thinking of putting that off to the next meeting?” 

“Alright, sounds great,” said Harbormaster Steve Land, who had reviewed the revised harbor management plan, point by point with the Town Council during the meeting. “Somebody advertised the meeting on the Block Island Bulletin Board.”

“Yes, that was me,” said Boudreau. 

“I think you might want to do that again,” said Land. “I know you’ll get a full room” for that discussion. “This is a passionate topic right now.”

The Town Council then voted unanimously to move the item to the next meeting.