UPDATE: Rockport Harbor Committee reinforces working waterfront with latest recommendation

Mon, 03/11/2024 - 8:15am

    UPDATE: The Rockport Select Board moved its discussion to its April meeting concerning the matter of winter boat storage, citing the March 10 storm, and need to assess damage at the harbor.

    ROCKPORT — At its March 11 regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening, the Rockport Select Board is expected to discuss whether to continue renting space on the east side of the harbor for winter boat storage. The Harbor Committee has weighed with its recommendation: Maintain the status quo.

     The topic is included with the update to the town’s Harbor Rules and Regulations Policy.

    At the Feb. 12 Select Board meeting, the board heard from the Harbor Committee concerning proposed updates to the policy. One set of updates was submitted by the Harbor Committee, while another set had been submitted by the Parks and Beautification Committee.

    There had been discussion at that February meeting about combining the two, but in the end the Select Board agreed to stick with the Harbor Committee’s policy updates and amendments.

    Those amendments include imposing a fee to be charged for removal of kayaks left on the racks after Nov. 15, and that vendors at the harbor, aside from one food truck, art and exercise classes and boat tours, must have peddlers’ permits.

    The Harbor Committee had been firm in their language encouraging working waterfront activities, including commercial fisheries, diving, mooring maintenance, boatbuilding, boat repair and clean aquaculture activities.

    Members had also reinforced their opinion that the east side of the harbor is used well as is, maintaining their position that it should not be used for parking for any non-marine use, nor should it be paved.

    However, at the Feb. 12 meeting, the topic of whether to keep renting space on the east side of the harbor for winter boat storage was referred back to the Harbor Committee for consideration.

    Town Manager Jon Duke had expressed reservations about the storage of boats there following storms that had washed seawater over the bulkhead and beneath some of the boats.

    “What had once been a long line of lobster boats and smaller craft is now filled with boats of some value,” he wrote in his manager’s comments in the board packet.

    Currently, Rockport rents space along the commercial fishing side of the harbor to boat owners to store their boats on the land during the winter and spring months. The vessels must be off the property by June 1. The town collects approximately $12,000 annually from the rental.

    But at their Feb. 28, Harbor Committee members voted 7 to 0 to continue the rental practice.

     "The Harbor Committee supports continued access to winter boat storage on the East side of the Goose River in alignment with our directive to support both commercial and recreational boating as stated in the 2004 Comprehensive Plan,"  read the motion.

    In a note to the Select Board, the Harbor Committee wrote that it: “continues to feel that the present use of that area appropriately balances the needs of commercial fishermen, other industrial and commercial use, recreational boaters and the Boat Club. The area is remarkably thoroughly utilized and reflects the type of harbor the Committee wants to see and reflects the wishes of the Town's people. 

    “Questions as to whether the area needs to be modified for climate resilience do not strike us as pertinent to our recommendation as to the ongoing use; i.e., that a public parking lot, besides being contrary to public interest, would face the same climate challenges.”

    In other town business

    Rockport’s Select Board will discuss proposed zoning amendments that could appear on the June Town Meeting warrant, June 11. The board will discuss the short term rental regulation proposal, as well.

    The board will also discuss a proposed memorandum of understanding with the Lesher Foundation that, if approved, would govern the relationship between a nonprofit’s establishment of an oversight conservancy and a municipality’s ownership of the RES community park. The park is currently under development, designs for which will be presented March 12 at a public meeting at the Camden Hills Regional High School cafeteria The high school is at 25 Keelson Drive, Rockport, on Route 90/West Street.