Harbormaster Isaac Perry proposed to the Marion Resources Commission at its Monday night meeting a tweak to the town’s regulations of commercial moorings.
An addendum to the regulations states that existing commercial moorings may be transferred to marine-related businesses with the approval of the harbormaster. “This has been done in the past, but I’ve been hesitant without it being in the regulations,” explained Perry in his report to the MRC.
With the reduction of two grandfathered commercial moorings, Perry says there are now 19 remaining. “There’s not a lot left,” he said. “In talking about this, we’d like to retain what we can.”
Perry said that some existing businesses use town property for their only access. “It would be nice to support these businesses with the remaining commercial moorings that we have left,” he said.
Before the MRC voted in the affirmative, MRC Chairman Vin Malkoski led off with a hypothetical scenario for clarification. He asked Perry what if, for instance, Burr Brothers wanted to divest their business of 50 commercial moorings. Perry confirmed that the town would be looking at other commercial interests. Adding one sentence, Perry said, covers what’s been done in the past.
MRC member Greg Houdelette asked about the process. “Would people be notified who are on some sort of waiting list? What is the process of notification? “I’m certainly not looking to notify anybody, not looking to promote this activity … I don’t feel that’s our responsibility at all,” said Perry.
Malkoski doubled down on Perry’s stance, saying that the town does not want to be involved in straight business transactions, calling such activity “a conflict of interest.”
“All we do is transfer that permit, we don’t get into cost or anything like that,” said Perry.
MRC member Peter Borsari sought clarification on what constitutes marine business. Malkoski gave obvious examples but no definition per se.
The MRC voted unanimously to accept Perry’s rewrite of Item 7 in the regulations, inserting a sentence that says: An existing commercial mooring permit can be transferred with the approval of the harbormaster.
Perry had hoped to keep the original schedule for construction of the new Marine Center and break ground at this time next year, but on Monday night he told MRC members that the Seaport Economic Council would like to see some deliverables on the $303,000 grant awarded before Marion submits the first of two $1,000,000 grant applications.
“This pushes it back to Spring 2023 as the earliest we could break ground,” he said.
The next opportunity to apply for the $1,000,000 grant is May 1. “We all felt it was best not to push this forward too quickly. … It makes sense, it really does,” said Perry.
The first $1,000,000 application is geared toward site work and the second $1,000,000 application for construction.
The placeholder that matching funding has place with the Capital Improvement Planning Committee of $600,000 was bumped up to $700,000 following a meeting with the architect. Perry says the $700,000 capital request headed for Spring Town Meeting via the Waterways Account covers the match for the remainder of the project.
The town will take over the cleaning, maintenance and purchase of supplies of the public bathrooms that sit underneath the current harbormaster headquarters.
Some members of Marion’s Energy Management Committee submitted a letter requesting the MRC incorporate as many measures as possible to zero out the energy consumption of the new Marine Center.
Malkoski told the commission that he responded, saying the MRC would be happy to discuss the matter but that “it would be particularly beneficial if they could identify some funding sources. … It would make for a better conversation.”
“In talking with the architect … it’s very difficult to achieve net-zero with a building of this size — it’s very small, but … it’s very, very probable that we’ll see a reduction in the operating costs. It may not get to net zero, but it’s going to be pretty close,” said Perry. “I think some of those heating elements in the bathrooms are still original.”
The heating of the new Marine Center building will be electric.
“With the town taking over the existing public bathrooms, there’s potential to do something there,” said Perry, indicating that substantial progress in energy saving would have to be “more of a town-wide approach.”
Perry and Malkoski shared their enthusiasm over the open-house tours of proposed project sites that Town Administrator Jay McGrail and the Select Board recently organized.
“It’s really beneficial for everyone to go through those questions and actually be at the site,” said Perry, noting it is within the Select Board’s purview to schedule another such tour during the winter months. “It wouldn’t be pleasant, but we could certainly accommodate it.”
In making his Shellfish Management report, Deputy Harbormaster Adam Murphy thanked the MRC members for their work on the new Aquaculture Regulations.
“Everybody played a huge part in putting in there what is best for the whole community,” said Murphy, who said there has been confusion over the fate of the sites formerly occupied by Shea Doonan.
Murphy confirmed that all prior applications to occupy Doonan’s sites are null and void. The town will not advertise. The sites are going to have to be resurveyed and vetted by the state’s Marine Fisheries Department.
A revised aquaculture application is now available. Murphy told the MRC that some prior applicants indicated that they will not apply based on the changes in regulations, “but I’m sure there will be others,” he said.
Murphy reported that the Town of Wareham saw another discharge of sewage into the Weweantic River so that area has been closed off to shell fishing.
Asked by a MRC member if he has seen any scallops, Murphy said, “Negative … we haven’t seen any yet.”
The next meeting of the MRC is scheduled for Monday, December 20, at 7:00 pm.
Marion Marine Resources Commission
By Mick Colageo