Chilmark decides fates of two large yachts
After several weeks of debate and meetings, Chilmark selectmen decided unanimously Monday to accept the recommendation of the harbor advisory committee and harbormaster Dennis Jason for reallocating slips for two large yachts in Menemsha Harbor.
The main recommendation would allow the owners of the yachts, Banjo and Escapade, to choose between their current slips with other pleasure boats at the end of the west dock or move to the channel side of the dock, which is traditionally reserved for commercial fishing boats. It was the simplest and least expensive of three options that were considered by the harbor advisory committee over the past two weeks. The committee made the recommendation unanimously.
Selectmen Riggs Parker, noting that he has often differed with the harbor committee because of worries about giving up space in the commercial areas, gave his endorsement to the recommendations. "The harbor committee has reviewed all the ifs, ands and buts and should be supported," he said Monday, after the hour-long discussion in a packed hearing room.
Under the five-part motion, the yachts, both more than 60 feet long, also would have to pay $7,500 for the 60-day summer season to use the commercial slips. They have been paying $3,000 for the other slips, which the owners found to be inadequate in size and were perhaps unsafe, because the boats extended too far into the harbor.
In recommending the higher fee, selectman Warren Doty said the commercial slips are larger and the fee is comparable to others for transient boats. "If we just charged $3,000, the town will lose money," he said.
Mr. Jason also recommended limiting the use of the commercial slips to the length of these two yachts. Banjo is 63 feet and Escapade is 66 feet.
Selectman Frank Fenner added that if either yacht relinquishes its commercial space, it will return to transient boat status. If slips 12 and 13 become available, they will be allocated to boats on a current waiting list.
Banjo owner Hank Goldberg, a resident of Chilmark, said at the meeting that he had already decided to accept the offer of the commercial slip. He expressed concern about being bumped from the slip. He said he had the sense from the advisory committee that it gave preference to vessels owned by residents rather than transient boats. "I wouldn't want to be moved back for a transient boat," he said, adding that he is willing to move for a commercial one. He was assured he would not have to move for a transient.
Both yachts would have to move temporarily if commercial boats needed their slips or for any emergency situations, at the harbormaster's discretion.
Escapade owner Robert Congdon has 30 days to choose which slip he wants to use. Mr. Congdon sent a letter to the board indicating that he wants a slip for his yacht next summer, unless he rents his home and takes his boat to Maine. He did not indicate which slip he would want. Both yachts were allowed to use the commercial side of the dock on a temporary basis last summer.
Mr. Jason insisted that he be given the authority to decide where the two yachts will go on the channel side of the dock. The selectmen agreed.
The harbor committee also considered, and passed over, proposals to build a catwalk and make slips 12 and 13 deeper at a cost of $40,000 to $50,000, or to create new slips on the west dock's pleasure boat side.