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Falmouth harbor moorings may be left vacant, despite waiting list of 180 boaters

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Falmouth harbor moorings may be left vacant, despite waiting list of 180 boaters

FALMOUTH — Although 100 or more mooring holders are not expected to renew this year, the allotment of vacant moorings offered by the town will not be made available to any of the 100 boaters on its waiting list.

Police Chief Edward Tolan delivered the news in a presentation to the Town Council Tuesday about the Harbor/Waterfront Committee's plans for operation of the harbor.

Acting on recommendations from a study completed last year, he said the committee focused on four areas: repositioning of the moorings, parking, dinghies and launch service.

But two councilors, Dave Libby and Teresa Pierce, questioned the committee's decision not to offer moorings to those on the waiting list – including some who have been waiting for years.

When Pierce asked Tolan why the committee wouldn't take people off the waiting list he said, "We need to get a feel for what it opens up for space. We really haven't seen what it's going to make for an effect once we pull these out."

The portion of the 100 vacated moorings controlled by the Portland Yacht Club and Handy Boat will be available through those clubs but moorings controlled by the town, with the number not yet determined, will not be offered to those on the town's waiting list.

 Tolan said the added space may help the harbormaster and the committee as they seek to establish a grid for moorings. Although Tolan acknowledged he "can't document a large number of accidents," he said establishing the GPS-enabled grid would cut down on accidents and improve management of the harbor.

But questions remain about  who will bear the cost of the repositioning.

"There will probably be strong opposition of mooring holders, especially if we require them to pay for the move," Tolan said.

Since the mooring holder owns and is responsible for the physical anchorage, it should be the owner who pays for moving it, Councilor Tony Payne said.

Though divided on the issue, Tolan said the committee's recommendation is to hold off on any action until 2011. Meanwhile, it will continue to explore software options to plot the moorings.

Parking near Town Landing is a critical and immediate problem, Tolan said, and his assessment was backed up by the public comments on parking from a half-dozen residents.

In late winter, councilors chose not to pursue creating a parking area on town-owned property near the boat launch. On Tuesday, after listening to the pleas for more parking, they tried to revisit the idea, but Town Manager Nathan Poore told them the preparation required would delay construction until November.

Councilors agreed to solicit neighborhood input on the proposed site in a charette format, possibly to be held this summer.

The committee's recommendation on the dinghies was to maintain the current process. On Tuesday, in a separate order, councilors decided to allow motors on privately owned dinghies, which will improve boat access for those moored farther from shore.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.

This story was edited on June 3, 2009, to correct the number of people on the town's waiting list for moorings and to clarify that not all of the 100 moorings expected to be vacated are offered through the town directly.