Harbor ordinance expected to be ready soon

The ad hoc committee tasked with beginning to shape the group that will create town harbor management is moving forward with several recommendations coming soon to the Board of Selectmen.

After several meetings, the committee could return to the selectmen with written guidelines at its May 23 meeting that will then be reviewed and considered by the three-person board. This new committee is not the actual Harbor Management Committee itself but rather the group that will help determine the size and scope of the future committee by creating an ordinance.

While town water issues have been marked by public disputes in the past, so far everyone is reporting that it’s been smooth sailing. At the Board of Selectmen’s May 9 meeting, several members of the ad hoc committee spoke glowingly about its progress.

“Things have been very productive,” said Doug Massey, who is currently a member of the existing town Harbor Management Advisory Committee as well as this new group. “We discussed many things that should be in the plan as opposed to the commission ordinance and we’ve gone back and forth about language so everyone can be comfortable about the mays, the wills and shalls and how things should be worded. Overall it’s been very, very productive, and I think [the Board of Selectmen is] going to be very happy when they see this second draft for a review.”

Mr. Massey reported that there had been a three-hour meeting on May 2 where the draft had been reviewed line by line, and he summed up by saying, “We’re almost there.”

Gary Silberberg, also a member of both this ad hoc committee and the current advisory committee, agreed with the assessment.

“I feel that the committee has worked together quite well,” Mr. Silberberg said. “We’ve got people from different parts of town government and each has been able to give input to how the ordinance would impact their part of government. I would say that we are moving along quite well.”

Late last month, town resident and boater Wayne Keeney was charged with putting the ad hoc committee together. First Selectman Peter Tesei said the intention had been for the selectmen to give a quick review and approval to the membership first, but it actually started meeting before the board’s May 9 meeting, and by the time the selectmen got the chance to formally review its makeup, the committee’s work in putting together a draft ordinance was nearly complete.

However, the committee has been working closely with Assistant Town Attorney Amina Ahmad in order to keep the town in the loop. The ordinance has not been publicly released since it is still in draft form and considered to be a work in progress.

“I think we have a pretty good draft ordinance,” Ms. Ahmad reported to the selectmen on May 9. “I think it’s progressing quite well.”

Mr. Keeney was unavailable to attend last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting because of professional obligations, but he spoke to the Post afterward and confirmed the group’s smooth sailing. He said thanks to the work that had already been put into this and the template of the state guidelines and Stamford’s harbor management plan, it “was done in about two hours.”

“I think what we’re working on is well thought out and will give everyone a clear idea of what we need to do,” Mr. Keeney said. “We’re not getting into the specifics yet. We’re just laying out what the responsibilities of the harbor commission would be.”

Mr. Keeney said the draft is not quite complete yet, but confirmed it was very close.

“There’s not a lot left to do,” Mr. Keeney said. “I think we’re 99% of the way there. There may be a T to cross somewhere in there, but I think it can all be set in a week or so.”

At the May 9 meeting, Selectman David Theis said he was pleased to hear things were going so smoothly, especially because of past contentiousness around these issues, particularly between members of the commission and town Harbormaster Ian MacMillan.

“We need you guys to work together,” Mr. Theis said. “I’m glad people are comfortable about how things are going.”

Ms. Ahmad said once the draft’s language is formalized within the committee, it will be sent out for review by the town departments that will be impacted by it. Once their input is received, the draft will be brought to the selectmen, whose Thursday, May 23, meeting is considered a possible time for that presentation. However, nothing has been set for the agenda yet.

“I applaud when people step forward to volunteer and do something constructive,” Mr. Tesei said, indicating that no hard feelings had arisen from the committee working perhaps a little faster than he and his colleagues were anticipating. “I see the work that has been going on back and forth, and my hat’s off to all of you. I appreciate that, and everyone seems to be playing nice in the sandbox. That’s always a good thing.”

Mr. Keeney put together the group that also includes Mr. MacMillan, Board of Estimate and Taxation member Bob Brady, and Edward Manganiello, a member of the Representative Town Meeting’s (RTM’s) Legislative and Rules Committee. Ms. Ahmad told Mr. Tesei that she wanted to get Mr. Manganiello on to make sure the RTM was involved early in the process. Any actual policy adopted by the town for management of the harbors would need RTM approval.

 

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