City harbor, waterfront budget detailed

By Larry Di Giovanni | May 27, 2014
Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni The lower portion of the boat launch at Snow Marine Park, here shown May 25, is in rough shape and need of repair, according to Rockland Harbormaster Ed Glaser.

Rockland — The 2,100-passenger cruise ship Eurodam is scheduled to visit Rockland Harbor and its public landing Oct. 7. Its arrival will help to generate much of the cruise ship portion of the city's projected harbor and waterfront revenue in 2014-2015, according to the proposed Rockland city budget.

Rockland's overall harbor revenues are projected to be $190,650 during the 2014-2015 budget year that starts July 1, with total appropriations estimated at $176,788. Each time a large cruise ship enters Rockland Harbor, the city's receives a $7 per passenger fee — regardless of whether the passengers come in to shop or not, said Ed Glaser, city harbormaster.

When they do visit, passengers typically arrive around 7 a.m. and leave by 5 p.m. Cruise ship tender boats holding 70 passengers bring them in to the public landing beside Glaser's office. Last year, three large cruise ships visited Rockland Harbor. Their number of annual visits "is hit or miss," he said.

A much smaller, 100-passenger cruise ship well-known to Rockland Harbor, The Independence, is scheduled to make weekly arrivals on Tuesday evenings starting in June, Glaser said. It is charged by the footage of the vessel rather than the $7 passenger fee. American Cruise Lines of Guilford, Conn., owns The Independence, which makes several other stops along the Maine coast including Bar Harbor, Belfast and Portland.

One proposal sent to the City Council for budget deliberations is whether to approve holding back an extra dollar for each large cruise ship passenger for the Port Development Fund, which is used for harbor improvements. Currently, $2 of each $7 per passenger goes to the Port Development Fund, with the rest going to the city's General Fund.

The ramp at the boat launch at Snow Marine Park needs to be rebuilt, Glaser said, adding that any waterfront improvements involving the Port Development Fund must go before the City Council for approval. Glaser said he likes the idea of using the fund as matching money used for improvements in tandem with state and federal grants.

The large majority of city Harbor and Waterfront revenue comes from mooring fees and docking fees, which have held steady in price, Glaser said. The city has a total of about 650 moorings in the harbor, and projects earning $48,000 from mooring permits revenue primarily charged to private commercial boat owners, such as fishermen.

Another $15,000 from mooring rental fees is primarily charged to large marinas such as Ocean Pursuits Marine Services, Knights Marine, Journey's End Marina and Landings Marina, Glaser said.

The city charges a sliding scale for moorings, with the yearly average being about $100 per year, Glaser said. The least expensive mooring fee, $60 yearly, is charged to Rockland residents whose boats are less than 30 feet in length.

The city is also anticipating $52,000 in docking fee revenue, the most common fee for which is $2 per foot of a vessel, per night, for boats less than 50-feet long.

The harbor and waterfront budget is also projecting more than $11,000 in waterfront events revenue stemming from the Blues Festival; Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show; Friendship Sloop Days; and a portion of the $14,250 in park permit fees the city will now charge The Maine Lobster Festival.

The majority of Harbor and Waterfront appropriations are for full-time and part-time payroll and benefits, and various types of harbor maintenance, public amenities, and utility costs. Glaser is the only full-time harbor employee, aided by a seasonal assistant harbormaster and two part-time dock stewards.

By the end the summer, the public landing at Harbor Park will have an American with Disabilities Act-approved ramp that is wheelchair-accessible. Glaser is also, without charging the public, offering free online access to a harbor webcam. It can be found at rocklandharbor.info, and then clicking on "webcam" on the upper left side of the page.

Courier Publications reporter Larry Di Giovanni can be reached at 594-4401 or by email at ldigiovanni@villagesoup.com.

Mooring permit fees are a significant part of the city of Rockland's harbor and waterfront budget, city Harbormaster Ed Glaser said May 23, accounting for $48,000 in projected revenue this coming budget year. A large mooring rock like the one being lowered can cost a private owner several hundred dollars. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
Private barge operator George Marks, lower left, prepares May 22 to take the mooring rock to its assigned space in Rockland Harbor when the tide comes in. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
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Larry Di Giovanni
207 594-4401 ext. 117
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Larry Di Giovanni, a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, is returning to his daily reporting roots in order to cover the city of Rockland for The Courier-Gazette. Originally from Athens, Ohio, his family includes one son, Tony.

Di Giovanni has covered news beats ranging from the city of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., to the largest tribal government in the United States — the Navajo Nation. He has also worked as a writer in the public education and higher education fields. He's an animal enthusiast and loves dogs.

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