A grand public/private plan to redesign the city's downtown waterfront facilities and add floats and wave breakers in the inner harbor is in the planning stage, but the City Manager Tom Lutrell said the public portion is a long way from becoming reality.

The Rockland Harbor Management Commission met Tuesday night, Dec. 12, to continue its review of the proposal drawn up on behalf of Yachting Solutions and the city by Landmark Corp. engineer Michael Sabatini. The plan was unveiled to the commission last month.

Yachting Solutions leases space from Rockland Harbor Park LLC, which owns the property where DST (formerly Boston Financial Services) and the YMCA are located.

Bill Morong of Yachting Solutions said the project would be beneficial to both Rockland residents and visitors. He said the addition of wave breakers and more berthing space along that part of the harbor would attract more marine visitors. He said the redesign would also benefit the summer festivals that use Harbor Park.

Yachting Solutions has paid for the planning done so far on the redesign.

In July, the office of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, announced that Yachting Solutions received a federal Boating Infrastructure Grant.

"The Maine Department of Transportation proposes to work with Yachting Solutions LLC on expansions to the Yachting Solutions Boat Basin. This will provide 2,200 linear feet of new dockage at the facility, which will be dedicated solely to eligible transient vessels. Also included are 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 news release stated.

The federal grant was $1,046,760, to which there must be a match of $737,941.

“Maine marinas are a critical part of our state’s working waterfront. In serving vessels that are traveling along the coast, they directly support hundreds of jobs and help connect thousands of customers to local economies,” Pingree stated in the news release.

Funded through taxes and fees on motorboat fuel and related equipment, the grants are administered by the National Park Service.

Two wave breakers would be placed in the harbor, under the plan. One of them would extend from the middle pier, while the other would be located out near the pier used by Yachting Solutions. The one extending from the middle pier would be wide enough for pedestrian traffic.

Sabatini said there is a persistent east wind that affects boats in that section of the harbor, and the wave breakers would reduce the rocking experienced by boaters.

In the harbor adjacent to where Yachting Solution is located, docking space would increase from about 1,000 feet to 2,500 feet, Morong said. He said this would accommodate large yachts (longer than 130 feet) that now bypass the Midcoast because of the lack of adequate berthing space.

The overall plan also calls for moving the building where the harbormaster's office is to Buoy Park, near the embankment off Park Drive. In addition, the plan calls for the small cruise ships, which now dock at the public landing, to dock at the middle pier, adjacent to Buoy Park. The existing public landing bridge would be replaced with a larger one.

This would move the visitors getting off the smaller cruise ships closer to downtown, closer to the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce offices and closer to Tillson Avenue, Sabatini said.

Luttrell pointed out more than once that the city could only proceed with its part of the project — moving the harbormaster's building, for example — if it obtained grants. He said a redesign of Harbor Park has been discussed for more than 20 years.

He said the project should realistically be viewed from the land looking out to the harbor, rather than from the harbor looking onto the shore.

Morong said the chances of getting grants are improved when there is a lot of research and a public/private partnership.

This overall plan, however, would require relocating the moorings in that section of the harbor. Harbormaster Matt Ripley said the current placement of moorings is willy-nilly and  the plan developed by Sabatini is more orderly.

The possible relocation of moorings, however, was met with concern by Ken Pride, a member of the Rockland Yacht Club. He said moving moorings would also require some of the boat owners to acquire new gear, since the boats would be in deeper water and the current chains connected to moorings would not be long enough.

Pride also said the city should preserve the open space that Buoy Park now offers, saying it is a place where families have picnics. Sabatini said that is why the plan calls for having the building close to the sewage pump station, and not in the middle of the park.

Morong said the company has begun the process of getting permits from the Army Corps of Engineers for its part of the project. He said he would like to see the company's part of the project begin by next fall. He added that when the plan is refined, it will be presented to the City Council and Planning Board.