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Town Board Retreat Recap: The Harbor
Repairs, Hodges Street Raising, Big Boats and Small Boats
February 27, 2013
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riental’s Town Board took part in a two-day retreat on Friday and Saturday February 22 and 23 at River Dunes. They met to consider some plans for future projects in town.

retreat 2013 screen image of harbor
At the retreat, a photo was shown of the wharf near the Oriental Town Dock. A commissioner proposed a floating dock there, while the Town Manager sketched out the possibility of raising Hodges Street and putting an arched bridge over the opening between the harbor and Duck Pond.
The Town Manager, Bob Maxbauer laid out some projects that would take several years to complete, or in some cases, to even get started. Among them, reworking the Town’s ordinances and its building standards, otherwise known at the Growth Management Ordinance, raising Hodges Street 4 or 5 feet near the Town Dock so that it wouldn’t be as prone to flooding and burying a water main under Whittaker Creek’s mouth as part of creating a “loop” water system.

At the retreat no votes were taken and no projects were given the go-ahead (or, for that matter, the brakes.) Before adjourning, the Commissioners each listed the projects to which they’d give the higher priority. These tended to be the relatively lower-ticket nuts-and-bolts items such as improving the water quality with the installation of a circulator, and repairing existing docks.

It is possible however, that some of the bigger ideas may present themselves as actual projects in the coming year. With that in mind, TownDock is putting together recaps of the ideas floated at the retreat. These will be posted over the course of coming days.

We start with the harbor.

Channel Markers Inside the Harbor

Commissioner Larry Summers brought a list of improvements he recommended for the harbor. For one, he said that some transient boats have started to drop anchor in a way that puts their boats in the channel and in the way of fishing boats that come in late at night. He says he heard that one visiting boat’s anchor rode was severed. “Technically, we don’t own the harbor,” he said, but suggested that the Town ask the Coast Guard if three channel markers could be installed, by the federal government or it it came to it, by the Town. No decision taken.

Repairs Needed At Small Boat Launch

Summers said the small boat launch at the end of Midyette Street — close to the bridge — need work. A roller allowing the floating dock to ride up and down the piling, has fallen off; the planks are loose and that the railing cap needs repair. He also suggested cutting a 38 inch wide slit in to the dock so that kayakers could slide in to embark or disembark. Sue Magnusson of the Parks and Rec board said that committee’s chair, Jim Edwards thought that wouldn’t leave enough room on the dock. The Board at the end of the retreat put the repairs high on their list of priorities.

retreat 2013 Commissioners Mayor Bill Sage
Most of Oriental’s Town Board posing for a photo on Day Two of their retreat. Seated is Mayor Bill Sage, while standing, from left to right are Larry Summers, Michelle Bessette, Barbara Venturi and Warren Johnson.

Floating Dock: Dinghy Dock

Summers sees a “problem with our dinghy dock” in that it is solid and has no floating part. That means he says, that sometimes those in dinghies tying up there then have to “pole vault” to get out of their boats. He suggested a floating platform at the end of the fixed dock. No cost estimate was provided. No action was taken

Floating Dock: Next To Town Dock

Summers also said he wanted to see a floating dock along the 135 feet of concrete wharf to the right (from land) of the Oriental Town Dock. Citing the same reason for doing so at the dinghy dock, Summers said that currently, it was at times hard to climb up and out of a boat at the wharf. He did not say how often the wind tide is so low as to make disembarking cumbersome, nor was a cost estimate provided. Summers spoke of a floating dock with a ladder that attached to the existing Town Dock. He told the retreat participants that the floating dock could be moved to the end of the Town Dock if Oriental ever had a Boat Show again. In an interview, Summers said he envisioned a dock 4 feet wide. No action was taken on the suggestion.

Big Boat/Small Boat Issue Cited By Commissioner

While Summers spoke about the improvements he thought the harbor needed for smaller boats, fellow Commissioner Sherrill Styron, who owns Garland Fulcher Seafood countered that concept. “I got one complaint,” said Styron, “You don’t need kayaks in the harbor on Friday and Saturday.”

Fridays and Saturdays, in the summer months, are when shrimp trawlers pull up to Styron’s docks to offload their catch. Friday afternoons are also when the Bow to Stern kids sailing camp wraps up its week of teaching kids to sail. To show off their skills they developed the previous four days – and to get a reward – the children, in one’s and two’s, sail their Optimist dinghies and Sunfish to the Town Dock. The boats are docked, and they go to The Bean for an ice cream. For this trip, the children are accompanied by instructors in chase boats.

Retreat 2013 sherrill Styron trawlers small boats
Commissioner Sherrill Styron.

At the retreat, the sailing school’s Jim Edwards was not present as Styron presented fellow commissioners with his criticism of smaller boats in the harbor on Fridays and Saturdays. “Bigger boats in the harbor can’t even see ‘em,” said Styron. “What he does bringing those kids in there, is not a whole lot of thinking up top.”

Dockage for Transient and Day Visitors

Marsha Palpham of Marsha’s Cottage and a member of the Tourism Board said she’s seen less day trip traffic in recent years. Larry Summers said that “if we get the new dock in,” the Town could make the current Town Dock have a time limit of “one, two, three hours” and not allow people to tie up for overnight stays until “7p or 9p.” That would allow day trippers to come to town, tie up for a few hours and go. He had no firm plans on whether there would be a charge.”

Mooring Field

Planning Board member David White asked whether the town or the state could set standards on how long transient boats could remain at anchor. White’s concern was whether holding tanks were being pumped in to the harbor’s waters. Commissioner Summers suggested a mooring field – where the anchorage now is – could solve some of that. If you have a mooring field, Summers said, then you can regulate.

No price estimate was presented for placing the moorings. To the suggestion that the moorings might bring in revenue to the Town, Summers said he saw payment as voluntary, though added, “Most recreational boaters would happily pay $10 a night.” A dockmaster might also be employed, he said.

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Posted Wednesday February 27, 2013 by Melinda Penkava

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