ROCKLAND – As a private project aimed at redesigning part of Rockland Harbor moves through its conceptual stage, mooring owners voiced opinions and concerns Tuesday, Jan. 30, during a special City Council meeting regarding mooring positions and channel locations.
City councilors sat in the audience as Rockland Harbor Master Matt Ripley fielded questions about possible rearrangement of mooring locations should a proposed redesign of private harbor acreage become reality. Louise MacLellan-Ruf, member of the Rockland Harbor Management Commission, moderated the input-gathering session. Michael Sabatini, engineer for the Inner Harbor Plan, showed images of possible mooring relocations.
In previous months, Stuart Smith, owner of the former MBNA real estate on Water Street, and Bill Morong senior, as well as Bill Morong junior, of Yachting Solutions, which leases space from Smith, brought forth a harbor redevelopment design that would create a wave attenuater (breakwater) on the south side of the harbor. They would also create more public, private, and small cruise ship piers and dockings.
They did not present their plans during this Mooring Permit Relocation Workshop, but are taking boaters’ concerns into consideration.
“The businessmen have the water rights in front of Boston Financial under submerged land lease,” City Manager Tom Luttrell said after the meeting. “They are coming to the City as a courtesy to let us know what they are proposing and what the City could do with the harbor in the future.”
Luttrell said the project can move forward as long as the businessmen receive permission from U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for water-related development. The City will only discuss land development, which will include parking due to the increase of dock slips.
If the particular project comes to fruition, however, at least seven, if not 28 or 54, mooring owners may either be displaced, or lose their moorings altogether, according to Ripley.
“I think we should accommodate those people more than take something away from them,” said Steve Hale, owner of the lobster boat Captain Jack. “They’ve earned their spot.”
Hale suggested that Yachting Solutions allow slip usage for the displaced as a way to continue safe travels for those who will now have to row dinghies across the main channel.
He cited traffic from the municipal fish pier, lobster boats, and sailors coming in and out as adding to the hardship of those trying to row. That traffic is also why Lynn Johnson Taylor, frequent kayaker with a disabled daughter, objected to an earlier suggestion by another boat owner of eliminating the central channel altogether.
Yet, the south channel is also in question, since moving or eliminating it could resolve the mooring issue.
Dale Maxim, who grew up in Rockland, enjoys the feel of the harbor as it is now. He reminded the audience that being able to park at the landing to watch the boats go by is a huge aspect of Rockland. In so doing, he questioned the benefits of accommodating the 10 weeks of the year of festivals and cruise ships above the hundreds of residents in Rockland year-round.
Until recently, David Kelly has felt lucky to have used the harbor for years. He spoke of loading his family into the boat and going off on adventures. He spoke of simply going and sitting on his boat during his lunch breaks.
“I’m pretty close to Yachting Solutions right now,” he said. “I see these mega yachts that are anchored there. People are out there cleaning them all the time, but I don’t see people sitting in them, enjoying them. It’s not for me and not for us. I feel like I’m being pushed out, and I feel like this development is moving past me.”
If the project moves forward, the owners of displaced moorings will need to be relocated by November 2018.
A full presentation of project details is scheduled for February 14, 5:30 p.m., at Rockland City Hall.
Along with the property at 12 Water Street, Stuart and Marianne Smith also own downtown inns in Camden and commercial property in Rockport. In 2014, the couple had proposed a 65-room hotel at the Water Street property, but did not move plans for it forward.