2010-03-18 / News

Posting problem cancels meeting between Town Council and Harbor Commission

By Iain Wilson

A highly anticipated meeting between the Town Council and the Jamestown Harbor Management Commission was postponed last Wednesday after the meeting was not listed on the Secretary of State’s website as required.

Later that same evening, the Harbor Commission met for its regularly scheduled meeting to discuss budget numbers, and hold a discussion on the future of fishing on the island.

The commission’s budget manager, Chris Brown, disclosed the results of his meeting with Jamestown’s Finance Manager Christina Collins.

The budget’s big-ticket item will be repairs to the town’s wood-pile pier, which will cost $240,089. The large amount is within the budget, Brown said, but effectively limits other projects that can be taken on by the commission.

Discussion then turned to repairs to the dock at Ft. Getty, with a handful of commission and audience members expressing a need for these repairs.

Harbormaster Sam Paterson said that if any one thing should be done at Ft. Getty, it should be repairs to the outhauls. Though the harbor budget isn’t large enough to complete the actual repairs, the commission suggested allotting funds to have the project surveyed by the company doing the repairs to the wood-pile pier.

“We probably can’t do the work this year, it’s too late to start anyways,” said Commission Chair Michael deAngeli.

In what promises to be a controversial issue looking forward, the commission mulled recreational fishing at East Ferry.

Prior to the meeting, deAngeli made very clear the fact that a vote was beyond the commission’s power, and that the issue can only be handled by the Town Council.

A contentious topic for almost a decade, talks over fishing at the docks stemmed from a recent memorandum from Bill Munger, owner and operator of Conanicut Marine Services.

In his memo, Munger, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, wrote, “The need for immediate action is because a particular user conflict creates an intolerable safety problem, and, as a result thereof, an exposure to substantial liability for the town.”

When asked if a ban on fishing was feasible, deAngeli said, “It’s not up to us.”

Several years ago, he said, a ban on fishing was proposed and the Town Council replied with an adamant “no.”

The primary emphasis of the commission’s concern was on the danger of casting a fishing line; however, the commission made the point that prohibiting casting will effectively prohibit fishing.

If rules were to be put in place regarding casting, commission member Susan Little said, “What kind of penalties would you post?”

deAngeli echoed Little’s concern, saying, “Enforcement is another big issue.”

Commission members sympathized with island residents, explaining that this was not an effort to prevent a father from teaching his son how to fish, but to eliminate out-of-town visitors who cast recklessly and leave behind their waste.

Also acknowledged was the fact that people walking in the area could be placing themselves in a certain level of danger should casting go awry.

A motion was made to prohibit fishing at the pier and all floats attached, but that motion did not foster a second vote of support.

Chief Thomas Tighe said that while concerns are legitimate, there is very little chance that the town would actually ban fishing.

Commission Vice Chair Andrew Kallfelz presented several alternatives, including marking certain areas as fishing and nonfi shing zones, but those alternatives were met with the same skepticism over problems with enforcement.

The commission’s 2010 annual report was also presented, and will be mailed to all who hold related permits given through the town. Basic information is included in the report, including an explanation of the $5 permit rate hike to cover the new online mooring management system. The report also includes a permit summary and project updates for woodpile pier repairs and Ft. Getty improvements.

A final date has not been set for the cancelled meeting between the Town Council and the commission to discuss the future of the Harbor Management Ordinance.

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