Cost of Camden Harbor spaces to increase

By Stephanie Grinnell | Nov 19, 2012
Photo by: Stephanie Grinnell A view of Camden Harbor during the 2012 Windjammer Festival.

Camden — A disparity in proposed mooring rates for summer 2013 led to a select board delay in approving the proposed mooring fees Nov. 13. The remainder of the proposed rates — many of which increased — were approved.

Selectman Leonard Looker pointed out that according to the proposed figures, a resident and a non-resident with a similarly-sized boat wishing to secure a mooring would see a $15 difference per season — with residents paying more. Lookner said he moors his boat in Camden so the issue is one that impacts him personally; though he said he wouldn't “make a big deal about $10.” Selectman John French wondered why the categories are not consistent, citing parts of the recommendations that propose charges for transient boats measuring 40-feet or less and those measuring 30-feet or more belonging to residents.

Harbormaster Steve Pixley said the formula used to create the proposed rates has been the same for years. Recommended increases in many cases round numbers, he said, citing fees in 2012 of $143 or $216.

“I'm having trouble with it symbolically,” Lookner said, adding he does not think Camden residents should be “paying a premium. The logic is a little confusing.”

Pixley said there are several categories of moorings, including transient, service and resident. He said service moorings are used by local marinas to carry out repairs; transient moorings are offered to those traveling through Camden Harbor and resident moorings are for resident or Camden taxpayer-owned boats.

“There's not much of a difference, but there is a difference,” Pixley said.

He said some moorings are “sold” to the yacht club, which in turn rents the moorings as part of the business, adding perhaps that is the reason behind the disparity in the two rates. The rates were lowered in years past to encourage more transient business, he said.

Pixley said there is a total of 415 moorings in the harbor. Use of the moorings is monitored but staff is generally lenient when it comes to making sure businesses or boat clubs are renting moorings to boaters passing through, Pixley said in response to French noting the town can decrease the number of moorings offered to businesses.

Currently, a working group is addressing a number of harbor-related concerns, Pixley said, including winter mooring use and enforcing time limits on spaces closest to the public landing.

“What are you going to do with a 75-foot boat that won't leave — untie them and shove them off?” French asked.

Pixley said he has that authority.

“It's a management issue,” Town Manager Patricia Finnigan said.

Lookner noted the rates charged for docking in the inner harbor and said few services are offered.

“There's no privacy, no marine service,” he said, adding a time limit may result in fewer people making use of inner harbor spots.

As debate continued, Finnigan said the rates normally are approved by the select board in November per a town ordinance. On Nov. 19, Finnigan said the Harbor Committee planned to meet Nov. 20 to find answers to select board questions before the next meeting. The select board is expected to address the issue again during a Nov. 27 meeting, according to Finnigan.

Courier Publications Associate Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at sgrinnell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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