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Expert to discuss reopening of Brunswick boat launch

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Expert to discuss reopening of Brunswick boat launch

BRUNSWICK — The marine expert behind a study that could convince local officials to reopen the Simpson's Point Boat Launch is expected to discuss his findings at next week's Marine Resource Committee meeting.

Since the eelgrass decline study was published in May, a debate has emerged between recreational users, who enjoy Simpson's Point as a beach-going destination, and clammers and duck hunters, who used the boat launch before it closed in 2008.

Marine Resources Officer Dan Devereaux said Chris Heinig, president of MER Assessment Corp., will be at the Sept. 4 meeting to discuss the MER study that suggests motorized boats are not responsible for eelgrass decline in Middle Bay.

"The general thinning and decline of the eelgrass at Simpson's Point since 2008 is unrelated to boat activity in the area since the Simpson's Point landing has been blocked to motorized vessels since 2008," the study's executive summary says.

Simpson's Point was ordered closed by the state Department of Environmental Protection after the opening the larger Mere Point Boat Launch a few miles away.

Devereaux said Heinig's presentation may lead the committee to make a recommendation to the Town Council to reopen Simpson's Point, a decision that would ultimately need a final OK from the DEP.

But two committee members have offered different takes.

Committee Chairman Mark Latti, who was away this week, said in a brief message that he can't predict what will happen.

And committee member Suzan Wilson, who is also chairwoman of the Town Council, said the committee has traditionally favored reopening Simpson's Point, but it could be premature for the committee to make a decision that night.

Wilson said those arguing against allowing motorized boats – even if it is just during the winter – "shouldn't be so hardened."

"They're very selfish and elitist," Wilson said.

Some recreational stakeholders at a public hearing in August expressed an interest in finding common ground with clammers, duck hunters, fisherman and other motorized boat operators.

Devereaux said the current and future use of Simpson's Point will be considered among many other public access points and intertidal areas in the development of the town's harbor management plan, which will provide the Town Council guidance on how to update its harbor ordinance.

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.