ROCKLAND — Though harbor redesign plans engineered by the company Yachting Solutions have been altered slightly as a result of public feedback, the private marina is still on track for project completion in three years, according to its proponents.
A year after Bill Morong, Jr., presented his conceptual renderings to the City of Rockland, Morong returned to Council, Monday, Feb. 4, with a update.
The project entails extending and expanding space for floats and docks on the Rockland harbor front, thereby increasing dockage facilities for transient boats along a section of Rockland Harbor.
“The desire to maintain the informal South Channel was probably the loudest concern we heard,” Morong said at the Feb. 4 meeting.
Citizens, along with a group organized as Sensible Harbor Infrastructure Plan (SHIP), have raised concerns about about losing public space for boats, and questioned how the view corridor would be affected by an attenuation fence, and boats floating along side of it.
A wave attenuator is a structure typically used to protect marinas from incoming waves. The Breakwater is a large wave attenuator for Rockland Harbor.
Additionally, Yachting Solutions has cited displacement of boats by the proposed attenuator.
“We did our best to work with Mike [Sabatini], Prock Marine, and a number of other vendors to try to come up with a sensible plan that was cost effective to build, made the project make sense in a revenue perspective when you were done, and address the concerns that we were hearing from the public,” said Morong.
Members of SHIP, having already been informed of these changes during a previous meeting with Yachting Solutions, continued to voice their concerns Feb. 4 regarding the view corridor, the municipal channel, and the size of potential boats visiting the marina.
“Even though the present plan, compared to the one we saw a year ago, brings back the extension of the pier by 100 feet from 240 feet, extending beyond what’s presently there to approximately 140 feet, it still creates a substantial imposition to the view from Harbor Park and the Boardwalk area,” said SHIP member Christos Calivas, at the beginning of the Council meeting.
With the current design, the development goes right to the edge of the Municipal Channel, according to Calivas.
“The float, which runs right along the border line to the channel, is deemed to be a fuel dock, which means that any boat that is fueling up will actually be within the channel,” he said.
“We know that the Yachting Solutions’ plan is to develop a mega-yacht basin,” he continued.
The plan exhibits a yacht of up to 180 feet in length, and the scale of the beam is approximately 35 feet on that vessel, according to Calivas.
“They’ve said that they want to accommodate vessels up to 240 feet, which means it would be larger, in terms of a beam, maybe up to 45 feet. That would be a substantial intrusion into what is a thoroughfare. It would be like, if you were going to gas up your car, being able to do that on the travel portion.”
Calivas told Council that there should be a buffer between the development and the channel. Also, that channel, according to plans, extends into the mooring fields.
Yachting Solutions said it subsequently decided to use a different type of wave attenuator fence, pull it back so that it is out of the harbor channel, and remeasured it to the length of the wave fence underneath the existing pier, all in an attempt to minimize the profile, said Morong.
Evolution of a Rockland Harbor marina plan
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 US Fish and Wildlife 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.
“Obviously we’ve made changes to the original concept for the BIG grant, but we are adding more public boating access,” Morong said. “Its transient boaters that are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the BIG-funded projects. So, we are adding much more space than originally contemplated.”
Yachting Solutions has also reduced the size of the craft that could be accommodated, according to Morong.
“We will likely have some in-slip fueling for the bigger stuff, so I’m not sure that the concern of having anything very large outside of the fuel dock has merit,” he said. “But the concept would really be for smaller, transient, local craft, and boats of that nature. Not the bigger stuff.”
Yachting Solutions is testing the soils under the water, and Morong said Feb. 4, that the company hopes to get through the permitting process within a year.
After that, construction of Phase I (approved and funded by the BIG grant) will occur over the course of the two following winter seasons.
Altering the Archer’s end of the Harbor Trail is also being considered for additional parking spaces for marina clients, though most clients come by boat, according to Morong.
Phase II would probably be another three years worth of projects, according to Morong. (Phase II is represented by the peach color in the design rendering).
“Kind of a similar process: about a year’s worth of permitting, couple years worth of construction by the time you try and phase it so that we’re not interrupting both the marina operations, the restaurant operations,” he said.
When Ed Glaser asked about access to the water from the Harbor Trail, Morong spoke of two areas of where piers have been contemplated. One is next to Archers Restaurant. The other is in front of the gazebo.
However, the property tenants have already had bad experiences with public access, according to Morong.
“We’ve had some bad experiences up in the gazebo. We’ve had some theft. We’ve had some issues,” he said. “It’s not Nantucket, yet.”
Councilor Valli Geiger thanked Morong for his commitment to engage with the public and the City throughout the past year.
“You’ve made huge changes here, particularly around that attenuation wall, which we all support,” Geiger said. “I really thank you for your willingness to really take this and spend a year now redoing this, meeting with SHIP, meeting with the City....I appreciate your efforts.”
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