Rockland harbor panel makes recommendation on channel

By Stephen Betts | Aug 21, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts The Rockland Harbor Management Commission reviews the proposed southern channel in Rockland Harbor with Harbormaster Matt Ripley during the Tuesday, Aug. 20, meeting.

Rockland — The Rockland Harbor Management Commission has recommended to the City Council where the southern channel in the harbor should be located.

The ball is now in the council's court on this issue, which has become entangled with the proposed Yachting Solutions marina expansion in that section of Rockland Harbor.

The Harbor Commission voted unanimously Tuesday evening, Aug. 20, to recommend that the southern channel be located as it is written in the current city ordinance, but then extended in a straight line from 400 yards to 1,000 yards.

This is different than where the existing channel is located, although within the first 400 yards it is practically the same.

Harbormaster Matt Ripley told Harbor Commission members that up to 13 moorings would likely have to be moved slightly to accommodate the channel as proposed.

The commission also was in agreement that the 80-foot-wide channel had no need for 20-foot buffers.

Ripley said a straight line channel is safer and more visible.

Commission member Sam Radley said 20-foot buffers on both sides of the channel would result in the loss of mooring space and were not needed.

Ripley presented the commission with the survey of the proposed channel, done by surveyor Fred Beal. In addition, Code Officer John Root created a map showing the new channel overlaid on the current mooring field.

The issue of the channel has become contentious, as members of the citizen group Sensible Harbor Infrastructure Plan have argued that any move of the channel to benefit Yachting Solutions' proposed marina expansion would be opposed.

Councilor Ed Glaser, who has not taken a position on where the channel should be located. said both the existing channel and the one in the ordinance start at the bridge at the public landing, but by the time it extends out 1,000 yards, the location of the channel is different. He said the channel as designated by the ordinance would locate it 260 feet further north than what it is currently.

None of the main spokespeople for SHIP attended the Aug. 20 meeting.

Christo Calivas, a spokesman for SHIP, said Aug. 18 that he would oppose moving the channel even one foot to the north to benefit Yachting Solutions. He said the marina expansion would result in the loss of public access to a section of the harbor and would reduce the view from Harbor Park, the Boardwalk and Harbor Trail.

Calivas and Harbor Commission Chair Louise MacLellan-Ruf have both filed freedom of information requests with the city for all communications between city officials and Yachting Solutions, as well as with SHIP.

The City Council gave approval in April to an ordinance to have the channel located as the Harbor Commission is recommending, but has held off a final vote until there was public comment and a clarification from the commission, which called for the survey.

The City Council is scheduled to take a final vote on the channel issue at its Sept. 9 meeting.

Comments (5)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 23, 2019 09:00

Another point that comes to mind.  In recent years the state has been developing the route one corridor through the midcoast area.  Their philosophy has been to WIDEN the exsisting road instead of building a parallel pathway.  They say wider roads create a smoother flow of traffic.  So why not widen the existing main channel ?  This would help the fish pier and the landings marina, also potential development of the middle pier.  This would also allow yachting solutions more flexibility for their development.  It's called thinking "out of the box".  I had a mooring in Rockland harbor for over 30 years and remember using this "southern channel".  As I recall there was often a great deal of traffic congestion at the public docks there the two channels intersect.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 23, 2019 08:38

So the purpose of the Harbor boards recommendation is to further impede Yachting solutions proposed development.  Sort of a line in the sand or channel line in the harbor as a barrier not to cross.  Once again I have a difficulty with this confrontational attitude.  A lot can be achieved by working with those that want to improve and expand their businesses.  Instead we spend all our energy putting rocks in their path.

Posted by: Stephen Betts | Aug 22, 2019 08:25

The southern channel is mostly used by people with smaller boats who don't want to use the busy main channel. And if the channel is located further south it will limit the expansion of the marina.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 22, 2019 08:00

Steve Betts once again Thank you for your fact filled reporting, but is there a story in there somewhere ?  Why are we debating the placement of the southern channel ?  Isn't there already a main channel into the docking area ?  What effect does this ruling have on Yachting solutions harbor plan ?  Why do we need a southern channel ?  Are we trying to work with Yachting solutions or are we treating them as Russian operatives ?  Rockland has so much potential and room for everyone.  Are we shooting ourselves in the foot by attempting to block harbor development ?   One of the best harbors in the state and all I see is broken down vacant buildings and piers with barriers,  old worn infrastructure and a grassy knoll.   We could have an extended boardwalk, a vibrant public landing for special events and entertainment venues.  We could have a new central pier and expanded facilities for our resident boaters.  Yet we fight over the placement of the southern channel ??  Sorry not understanding this collection of facts we call a story.  Where's the story ?

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 21, 2019 08:07

Pleased to see the vote was unanimous.  Public comment is good, yet hope the council also unanimously supports this proposal. Kudos to the Rockland Harbor Commission for the commitment to see this through.

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