Dredging project wraps up

Thu, 01/07/2021 - 6:30pm
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The tugboat MV Aegean Sea has left the harbor. As promised, all the dredging work slated for this fall in Old Harbor has been completed. Harbormaster Kate McConville told the Harbors Committee at their Zoom meeting on Dec. 10 that the water around the old bait dock was now 17 feet deep. Pictures from before the work was performed show that the bait dock had been thoroughly filled in by the build-up of sand.

The dredging of the bait dock allowed the barge and tug to move closer into the harbor to dredge the town dock.

The Harbors Committee didn’t have a quorum, so no formal meeting took place, but those members in attendance took the opportunity to get an update on the Harbor Management Plan from Kevin Cute, of the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, who had phoned in as a guest.

A revised Harbor Management Plan was sent to the CRMC in late winter of 2020, just before Covid-19 closed offices all over the state. As staff transitioned to working from home, Cute said the Harbors Management Plan “got buried.” He has now reviewed what was sent and was currently cross referencing it with “a checklist from the CRMC.” This is a technical review to make sure all the language is in accordance with state guidelines.

“You’ve hit the mark,” said Cute, adding that there was “still a little to be done,” in terms of “recommended language being followed word to word.”

Once the checklist is completed, Cute said he will do a “full cover-to-cover review” before the next Harbors Committee meeting.

“So, there are no show-stoppers?” asked member Charles Gustafson.

“No,” said Cute. “It’s a really great looking plan – professionally done. You can pat yourselves on the back.” Rather, he said, a key word or phrase was left out here and there. “It’s 90 percent correct. I don’t see any show-stoppers.”

The committee has been working recently on changes to the Old Harbor Docking Plan, an appendix to the HMP. Since there was no quorum, the current draft could not be voted upon before it is sent to the Town Council for approval. Gustafson asked if that would need to be reviewed by the CRMC also.

Cute said he would be happy to review the draft and suggested that it would be most efficient to review it before, rather than after it went to the Town Council, in case changes needed to be made.

The proposed changes to the Old Harbor Dockage plan are to clarify policies regarding the transfer of commercial dock slips for fishermen, and to allow a one-time transfer to a family member. The current language is contradictory on whether the right to a slip belongs with the berthing holder, or the vessel itself.

Thus, the amended plan strikes the language: “Any Berthing permit is specific to a vessel and may not be transferred without written approval of the Harbormaster.”

The following language has been added: “The holder of a berthing permit shall be entitled to transfer the berthing permit on one occasion only either during the permit holder’s lifetime or upon the permit holder’s death to any one of the following relatives of the permit holder: spouse (including common-law spouse), child (including step child), sibling (including step sibling), grandparent, parent (including step parent) or grandchild (including step grandchild).”

At a previous meeting, some members of the committee questioned whether some of the boats currently occupying commercial slips were actually being used for commercial fishing purposes. Previously all a commercial slip holder had to provide to the Harbors Department was the vessel’s registration and documentation, as well as a commercial lobster or multipurpose license. The revised policy adds that “Federal or State vessel trip reports for fishing activity” must also be provided annually to prove that the vessel was used for commercial fishing for the required number of days per year.