Harbormasters Office

To The Editor:

            Opinion – Rebuttal…Taxpayers should reconsider new Harbormasters office.

            In all reasonable discourse, the key to any position is the understanding and proper use of the facts. In a recent Opinion piece, “Taxpayers should reconsider the new Harbormasters office” the writer seems unclear of the applicable facts. We would like to correct some of the misinformation.

            First and foremost, the design and construction of the proposed new Harbormasters office is completely funded through grants and harbor fees. In addition, every penny of operational cost of the Harbor Department is funded by harbor generated revenue. The Harbor Department operates from monies generated through grants, excise taxes and fees from resource users which includes boaters, shellfish workers, waterfront businesses and general users of Sippican Harbor.

            The writer goes on to ask, “How does one access the Harbormasters office when the ground beneath the office is under twenty feet of water?” Hurricane Bob in 1991, one of the most significant hurricanes to hit Marion, had a maximum storm surge between 12 and 15 feet above mean sea level. The new Harbormasters office has been specifically designed and engineered to withstand a storm more severe than Hurricane Bob and remain functional.

            The writer asks “Who will pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance costs to insure the Harbormasters office? The taxpayer?” Again, the answer is no. The taxpayer does not contribute in any way through their taxes to fund the costs of insuring Harbormaster assets, both vehicles and buildings.

            The writer concluded by stating that “the several millions of dollars saved on this extreme and extravagant project could be used for vital community projects.”  Massachusetts General Law prohibits the transfer of funds from a project such as the new Harbormasters office to any other town project unrelated to the waterways. In addition to the statute restrictions, the grant money received is also tied to the new building and cannot be utilized for other purposes and most likely would have to be returned.

            The new Harbormasters office will also meet the American with Disabilities Act and a variety of insurance requirements the current facility does not. It will be a safe working environment for the employees and will accommodate the equipment needs in support of harbor activities. It will be a welcoming community facility for residents and people visiting Marion and Sippican Harbor.

Greg Houdelette

Marion Marine Resource Commission

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