Yarmouth council backs harbor improvements

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YARMOUTH — The Town Council on April 17 endorsed a plan that could transform Yarmouth Harbor and bring new life to the town’s waterfront – if the necessary funding can be found.

In a 6-0 vote, the council backed recommendations presented two weeks ago by a consultant to enhance the Town Landing, an 8.6-acre tract of town-owned land with 1,500 feet of shoreline on the east side of the harbor.

Building on the findings of studies in 2009 and 2012, the Yarmouth Town Landing Master Plan would nearly double the number of boat moorings available in the harbor from 60 to 114. The plan also recommends a wide variety of infrastructure improvements onshore.

At last week’s meeting, the council identified six priorities among the changes:

• Reorganizing the mooring field to promote more efficient use.

• Creation of a new harbormaster’s building, which might include public restrooms.

• Improving parking and traffic flow near the public boat launch.

• Creation of a dual-access boat ramp.

• Creation of scenic trails.

• Promoting commercial use of the property.

• And creation of pedestrian paths or bridges to link the landing to other parts of town.

The changes are intended to bring more boaters – and their business – to the waterfront. At the same time, the plan would boost town revenue through additional docking fees.

Costs for the marina makeover are estimated to be $1.24 million. During the plan’s presentation two weeks ago, consultant Barney Baker suggested the town earmark capital funds that could then be used to obtain matching grants.

The work would be completed in stages, depending on the availability of funding and the timing of other town projects. Council Chairman Steve Woods said that town staff and committees are “encouraged” to implement the recommendations “as resources and opportunities present themselves.”

“This is, by its nature, a grand vision master plan,” Town Manager Nat Tupper said. “It is not a commitment to do anything. There’s no funding request behind it. It’s ‘here’s what we’d like (the waterfront) to be someday.'”