ROCKLAND — A group of area residents that has opposed a waterfront redesign along a section of Rockland Harbor by a private company still holds concerns about the plan following a Dec. 12 joint meeting. In a Dec. 17 letter sent to Yachting Solutions LLC, members of the group Sensible Harbor Infrastructure Plan (SHIP) summed up their issues with the plan.
“The group still has significant concerns regarding the new proposal, including the impact on the Municipal Channel and the view corridors,” wrote SHIP member Christos Calivas, of Rockland. “We would be more than willing to discuss these concerns in a meeting with you and others involved in the project.”
On Dec. 12, SHIP members met with Bill Morong, Jr., of Yachting Solutions, at the Rockland Harbor Master’s office. The goal was to acquaint SHIP members with revised features of the plan, as it has evolved since last winter.
The project includes reconfiguring the Yachting Solutions Boat Basin, which, if approved, would add 2,200 linear dockage feet at the company’s existing Rockland Boat Basin for vessels visiting Rockland.
In July 2017, the federal government had awarded Yachting Solutions a $1.8 million matching grant to expand its existing facility, a project that also is to include the installation of 100 amp and 480V 3-phase power, in-slip fueling, and the conversion of an existing upland gazebo structure into a well-appointed transient boater's lounge. The 2017 Federal Boating Infrastructure Grants, as administered by the National Park Service, are to support projects that expand docking space in order to serve a greater number of vessels traveling along the Maine coast. Funded through taxes and fees on motorboat fuel and related equipment.
In February 2018, Yachting Solutions presented its plans to Rockland. The plan drew criticism from citizens, and some looked to the City of Rockland to block the harbor redesign. The city, however, does not have control over the harbor waters, which are regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Dec. 12 meeting marked the end of a lull in the public discussion over the future of the project. At the Harbor Master’s office, the meeting lasted 45-minutes, as Morong explained to plan revisions on a map.
Morong shared amendments and goals of Phase I of the company’s three-phase project as evidence that Yachting Solutions is listening to public concerns. He also stressed YS’s goal of providing public access to the harbor, and to keep residents informed of the project’s progress.
As explained at the Dec. 12 meeting, the wave attenuator design has been amended and is now shown as behind the Yachting Solutions pier, not extending out. The attenuator would be a narrow fence, not wide enough to walk on.
“That will provide some protection,” Morong said, during the meeting. “Not a lot, but something.”
Yachting Solution models are based on total linear footage, not per slip, and then an assumption on what percentage of time during the season the linear footage can be filled.
“If all of these were filled 90 percent of the time,” he said, pointing to a section of slips, “and nobody ever showed up here, that’s OK. If we didn’t fill these all, but you got three of these filled for two months a year, that’s great.”
One reiterated goal for the land-side portion of the redesign, based on Rockland Planning Board approval, is improvement of the Boardwalk, which is a section of the Rockland Harbor Trail that is privately owned by Stuart Smith.
Smith also owns the gazebo and structures of 12 Water Street, including the parcels being redesigned by tenant Yachting Solutions.
With the continued success of Archers Restaurant, parking is a problem, according to Morong. If the Boardwalk trail is relocated a little bit, more parking spots could open for marina clients.
Yachting Solutions must consider the privacy needs of its clients, according to Morong. However, he suggested an option that other people could develop as a way to get the public into the harbor: a sort of boat timeshare.
At characterizations by SHIP members that the expansion creates gentrification issues, Morong asked: “Do we put a moratorium on growth in Rockland because we’re scared of gentrification?”
He continued: “I understand that people can be scared of growth and change Is this development precluding the 50-year-old sailboat from being in Rockland Harbor? Absolutely not.”
Morong also made clear that this harbor redesign does not force the City of Rockland to be reliant on Yachting Solutions. If the city happens to start a dredging project around the same time as Yachting Solutions wants to dredge, the two might be able to share costs.
In SHIP’s, Dec. 17 letter, the group referenced the Municipal Channel.
“Our principal concerns regarding the Municipal Channel are as follows: First, a more precise location of the channel should be determined,” Calivas wrote. “As you are aware, depending on wind direction, the channel can appear to move quite significantly north and south. We are looking into ways to determine the central most point of the channel which would serve as a fixed reference in considering the development.
“I am aware that the city has an interest in fixing the location of the channel and may pursue this as well. Secondly, regardless of where the Municipal Channel is located, the present proposal brings what you show as a ‘Fuel Dock’ to its edge. We believe there should be a buffer so that vessels lying along side will not interfere with the channel. In other words, there should be a setback of sufficient distance to accommodate the type of large vessels you wish to attract, and keeping the channel safe and clear at all times.
“With respect to the view corridors, we are still evaluating your proposal’s impact, but it does seem that pulling back the wave attenuating pier and floats is in order. Our last meeting was quite productive, and we thank you for your cooperative spirit. It is our feeling that further discussions are in order. Please let me know if you are willing to get together again; and, if you are, we can work on setting a date.”
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