Falmouth council rejects harbor panel's recommendations
FALMOUTH — Despite protests from the chairman of the Harbor and Waterfront Committee, the Town Council last week unanimously accepted a list of harbor management implementation steps suggested by the committee.
The council, however, removed what committee Chairman Steve Archambault said were the three most important recommendations.
"When I first saw the list, I said, 'Is this a joke?'" Archambault said.
The council declined to move forward with the committee's recommendations to increase the available parking at the town landing, provide a long-term management plan for more than 400 boats and reposition new and existing moorings into a GPS coordinate system.
Four years ago, the town hired a consultant to review the situation at town landing and recommend solutions to a variety of issues.
The consultant's report, presented to the council in August 2008, recommended the town add 103 vehicle parking spaces and 10 boat trailer parking spaces to meet the growing demand. It also recommended improving the traffic flow through the parking area and restrict parking to one-hour time limits.
The report also recommended investigating the possibility of a launch service that would transport people to their boats and decrease the need for dinghies, which had become a problem at the crowded landing. The report recommended repositioning existing and new moorings to prevent boats from bumping into each other during bad weather.
"Four and a half years ago, the harbor had just shy of 1,300 boats. There was general chaos," Archambault said.
He explained that before the town hired a full-time harbormaster, moorings were being installed without consideration for what was already there, and that dinghies were being tied to the pier and moorings, then sinking or hanging from the pier at low tide.
Now, the town only allows 90 dinghies at the landing, all of which must be registered. The town also provides 10 dinghies for general use.
"The biggest recommendation to come out of the report was the dinghies and we resolved that," Archambault said.
He said he was extremely disappointed that the council was not moving forward with other recommendations, particularly the parking issue.
"I don't think the town should be spending the money right now," said Councilor David Libby, who was the council liaison to the harbor committee for many years.
Libby said he is proud of the work the council has done to deal with the major issues at the town landing.
"I think the committee has lost sight of how much the council has already passed," Libby said. "I think we've addressed most everything."
In addition to dealing with the dinghy issue, Libby said the council also banned swimming at the landing, something that was also cited as a concern by the consultant report and by the committee.
"Forcing people to move their moorings was not well received," Libby said. "Instead, we'll do it through attrition."
While four years ago, space and parking issues were a major concern at the town landing, the economic crisis has forced many people to sell their boats and give up their moorings. As a result, Archambault said the pressure to make the recommended changes has lifted somewhat.
However, he said, he felt that the problems would return as soon as the economy recovered.
"There is no long range management plan," Archambault said. "We're going to be facing these problems again."
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org