South Thomaston innkeeper seeks public discussion on landing use
South Thomaston — An innkeeper said he wants to know what can be done about the “deplorable conditions” of the public landing off Route 73 in the village.
Gray Smith, owner of the Weskeag Inn, spoke at the South Thomaston selectmen’s meeting July 31 to ask the board to deal with the problem.
“We need some policy on how that landing is used,” Smith said. “I don’t think it’s representative of South Thomaston.”
He described a clutter of boats tied to the dock off the main ramp, vehicles left for long periods in the parking lot, broken glass on the side of the pavement, and jagged rocks at the base of the boat ramp.
Selectman Patrick “Mike” Florance said he had talked to Maine Marine Patrol, which polices the area occasionally.
“The wharf is a public access for anybody to use,” said board Chairman Jeffrey Northgraves. “We need a harbormaster to have any authority over the use of the harbor and the landing.”
He said under maritime law any attempt to remove a boat left in the water would be considered an act of piracy.
Board members were skeptical whether voters would want to support a harbormaster, although they might if the position included Spruce Head.
“We’re one of the few towns on the Maine Coast that doesn’t have a harbormaster,” said Northgraves.
“Right now, we’re not maintaining public access,” he stressed.
Several years ago the town got a grant for the town landing and the public tennis courts. The grant required public access to be provided. The tennis courts are available on a first come, first served basis, which qualifies as public access, according to town officials. But boats clutter the dock off the landing on weekends, blocking public access, said Smith, who found that he could not tie up his own boat one recent weekend.
"I wanted to bring my boat out of the water, and I couldn't because someone had left a boat across the ramp, preventing access," Smith said.
"If you're using your boat to pick up or discharge passengers, you can't because some have left their boats in the way," he added. "They treat it as if it were their own dock, and not a public dock."
“It’s not just a problem for the sailboats,” said Florance. “It’s a problem for the commercial fishermen, too.”
Boats are supposed to tie up at the dock for a two-hour limit, but some stay for days on end. Some of the same vehicles are parked for days, too, he said.
“We don’t even know who owns the boats, because they have old registration numbers,” he added.
One suggestion was made that the town send letters to the last known owners of the boats.
Another suggestion was made that the selectmen tow the boats and the abandoned vehicles to the dump.
“Just don’t take the boats from the water — that’s piracy,” Northgraves reiterated.
“We could wait and get them at low tide,” Florance quipped.
Smith said he hopes the town can get a public discussion going over proper use of the landing.
"I'll talk to Bob, Mike and Jeff [three selectmen: Bob Branco, Mike Florance and Jeff Northgraves] to see if we can get something going there," Smith said.
"I'll also talk to Tom Kaelin Sr., who was instrumental in getting the Capt. George Kittredge monument at the landing," he said.
Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or at email@example.com.