Fast ferry dock plan requires town assent

Says Coastal Resources Management Council
Thu, 11/29/2018 - 6:00pm
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The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council has ruled that a modified dockage plan proposed for Rhode Island Fast Ferry’s seasonal high-speed ferry service from Quonset Point to Block Island requires the Town of New Shoreham’s assent; something the town is not willing to grant. The town, which has opposed the service since 2013, owns a 50-year lease of the red stone breakwater where Paul Filippi is proposing installation of a fixed-landing pier.

Filippi, owner of Bluewater, LLC, the company responsible for securing dockage for the ferry service, said he is prepared to litigate the matter if it is necessary. He submitted a preliminary determination request for the modified dockage plan to the CRMC on Nov. 13.

The CRMC’s preliminary determination, written by Deputy Director Jeffrey Willis, and dated Nov. 21, states that: “the proposed Ferry Pier extending seaward and beyond the limits of the CRMC authorized marina perimeter for the Ballard’s Wharf Realty Marina authorized by CRMC assent B2003-12-061 and into tidal waters fronting and seaward of the Red Breakwater has the potential to significantly affect the Town’s riparian usage/rights pursuant to the lease and as previously discussed with this office. On that basis, you must provide Town’s approval or the Town’s co-signature on the application form in order for this Preliminary Determination request to be accepted for review by the CRMC. Please provide this approval within the next 10 business days or the application will be returned deficient.”

The modified dockage plan that Filippi submitted to the CRMC calls for installing a fixed pier adjacent to the west dock and red stone breakwater at Old Harbor via Ballard’s Wharf Realty marina property. Filippi is the current manager of the Ballard’s Wharf property, and co-owns the real estate company with his two brothers, Blake and Steve. 

The plan would involve constructing a dock containing three sections in Type 5 waters, and installing a 117-foot long by eight-foot wide fixed pier for passenger access abutting the west dock; a 35-foot long, four-foot wide floating cat walk for dockworkers; and a 95-foot long, eight-foot wide fixed pier landing portion for docking vessels. Three dolphin cluster pilings will be installed at the west side of the slip, providing protection from adjacent piers.

Bluewater’s proposed pier would jut out at a northeasterly angle in front of the red stone breakwater. The town has long contended that Filippi’s dockage plan in that location requires town assent, and proof of ownership. 

New Shoreham Town Manager Ed Roberge told The Times that Filippi’s plan infringes on town property: the red stone breakwater.

“There is nothing new being offered in this plan, and the town’s position is the same: the proposal we see doesn’t address the town’s concerns.” Roberge said the Town Council has reiterated its position: that there is insufficient landing space and infrastructure at Old Harbor to accommodate the ferry service.

In response to the CRMC’s determination, Filippi said, “We have anticipated this issue of the red jetty lease coming up because it was first raised at the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers in 2015, and we are prepared to litigate it, if necessary.”