Dinghy dock proposal approved
A private-public partnership may be the solution to the town’s dinghy dock woes.
At its meeting on Monday, the Town Council voted unanimously to approve a proposal for a floating dinghy dock that will be located on the Great Salt Pond between Dead Eye Dick’s and Payne’s Dock. The Wronowski family, owners of Dead Eye Dick’s, will fund construction of the dock on their private property and then lease the water/riparian and property rights to the town for one dollar per year for a 20-year term.
Terms of the agreement note that “upon completion of construction the dock will be gifted to the town,” which will then be responsible for permitting, maintenance, repairs, lighting, winter storage, daily operation, and obtaining insurance. The initial proposal includes plans for a 50-foot long American with Disabilities Act-compliant aluminum gangway, fixed timber pier landing, eight 20-foot long floating docks, and seven pilings, with the capacity to accommodate about 100 dinghies.
Harbormaster Steve Land said, “We have to move quickly on this (project). We need to get it done before Memorial Day.” Land said the Wronowski family approached him with the proposal for building the dock, and noted that it will not be a marina. “No vessel longer than 12 feet in length will be able to dock there per CRMC regulations.”
“This is a basic idea” for constructing the dinghy dock, said Land. “I have thought for a long time that this would be a great location for a dinghy dock. This is a really good thing that has been a problem for about 25 years.”
Councilor Sven Risom said he thought it was a “phenomenal opportunity,” and echoed Land’s sentiment noting the town should act quickly in moving the project along. “I support it,” he said, while also stating that he thought that a detailed agreement should be drafted to protect both parties.
Town Manager Edward Roberge said the initial proposal is based on plans from a previous project. “I brought this to the Town Council to see if the proposal was acceptable. This is the first step.”
“I think it’s a good solution. It’s a great spot,” said Jessica Wronowski. “We were worried like the rest of the town about this problem.”
Wronowski noted that her family was “slightly nervous about how the dock will be maintained” by the town. She also said it would be stipulated in the agreement that her family will conduct a year-end review annually for the term of the lease. “We will retain the right to end the lease,” she said. “Hopefully there won’t be an issue.”
Wronowski said if the lease is terminated, then her family would remove the fixed pier, and the dockage equipment would be the town’s responsibility to relocate. “I’m sure you will be able to take the fixed pier too,” she said. “We’re not going to do anything with a pier to nowhere.”
Wronowski told The Times the next step is “to finish engineering the plans, and then submit the application to the CRMC. That process will take at least a month, likely more. We have planning, zoning and HDC meetings to attend as well, though the town is being very helpful and allowing those applications to run simultaneously. The building of the dock itself is, in some respects, the easy part. Much of it will be constructed off-site and we hope to put everything in place sometime in May.”
Wronowski said the idea to build the dock dates back to her “grandfather, John H. Wronowski, who bought the Dead Eye Dick's property with hopes of building a dock and bringing a ferry boat to New Harbor.” She said more recently her dad, John P. Wronowski, “envisioned a dinghy dock coming right to the property. We had literally just finished extensive renovations on the building, and I couldn't believe he was looking to the next project. He is always pushing us forward to the next big idea.”
“Steve Land, Ken Lacoste, Ed Roberge, Denny Heinz and Marc Tillson have all been so positive and completed a lot of work behind the scenes to make this option viable,” she said. “Having their support both administratively and operationally makes all the difference.”
As for how trash will be handled in the area near the dock, Land said during the meeting that there will be signage directing people to the Block Island Boat Basin. “That’s how we will do it,” he said. “How the dock is maintained will be the responsibility of the Harbors Department.”
Last summer, a reduction of public dinghy dock space at the Block Island Boat Basin drew the ire of boaters, causing the Town Council and the Harbors Department to scramble to try to address the problem.
At the suggestion of Councilor Risom, the Town Council agreed to explore ways to fund improving beach access at Andy’s Way, and will hold a work session to discuss scientific data related to the cut in the dune/revetment on the south end of Corn Neck Road. The Council will also be looking into solving the bathroom issue at Mansion Beach; Roberge will explore funding for portable restrooms at that locale for the summer. Restrooms will not be installed at Scotch Beach this summer.
The Town Council unanimously approved raising the taxicab waiting fee from $4 for the first five minutes and 50 cents thereafter, to one dollar per minute beyond the first five minutes. Councilor Martha Ball was recused.
The Council also approved the annual report from the Rescue Squad for 2017.
The report noted a dip in total calls from 428 in 2016 to 349 in 2017. Of these, 125 were medical calls, compared to 141 in 2016.
The report tallied 49 moped incidents, versus 50 in 2016, and 23 bicycle mishaps, down from 37 in 2016. Ten of those 23 bicyclists were not wearing helmets, while three moped riders were operating privately-owned mopeds without helmets.
The next Town Council meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.