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Task Force members present: Susan Murphy, Planning Board; Peter Fee, Trustees of the Hingham Bathing Beach; Ben Wilcox, HDIC; Nick Amdur, Aland Perrault and Dave Beal, Harbor Development Committee; John Riley, Board of Selectmen.
The meeting commenced at 7:05 PM
Each member of the group identified themselves and their affiliation.
Ms. Murphy noted that this Task Force was created by a vote of the Board of Selectmen as a follow-up to a recent series of discussions and joint meetings of the Planning Board, Harbor Development Committee and HDIC. The focus of these meetings, and now the goal of this Task Force, is to build consensus among all stakeholders (including the public at large) on short and long term planning goals for the Harbor. The area of study will extend from the Bathing Beach west to Steamboat Wharf.
Katy Lacy provided a brief overview of planning efforts relative to the Harbor which have occurred to date, as follows:
• 1970 Waterfront Business District created by Town Meeting Article 39
• 1988 Harbor Plan
• 2002 Proposed revisions to Waterfront Business District (defeated by Town Meeting)
• 2006 Hingham Harbor and Tidal Waterways Management Plan
• 2007 Harbor Plan
• 2008 Harbor Parking Task Force
Ms. Lacy noted that, in summary, there was a large base of information upon which to draw.
Ms. Murphy outlined the questions that she felt the committee should be addressing, and asked the members for additional suggestions. Members identified the following list of questions that they would like this process to address, and initiated the discussion of how to approach each one.
• What are the operative documents currently in place that govern the various Harbor parcels?
• What are the existing sources of revenue generated for the Town in the Harbor area?
• What is the preferred long-term “Vision” of the residents and Town officials for the Harbor area?
• What improvements that can be undertaken and completed in the short-term?
• What are the obstacles (regulatory, financial, etc.) to accomplishing short and long-term goals?
• What other opportunities exist or may be created for revenue generation for the Town?
• What regulatory or policy changes are needed to accomplish the short and long-term goals?
In preparation for the meeting, members had been asked to identify the goals and priorities of the various groups and committees which they represented. Nick Amdur stated that the goals for the Harbor Development Committee were as follows:
1. Moving forward with implementation of the goals set forth in the 2007 Master Plan
2. Improving physical access to the Harbor with walkways, bike paths and easy access across 3A.
3. Geese control.
4. Resolution of issues between the privately owned parcels on the Waterfront and the Town regarding use of the Town Parking lots.
Mr. Amdur provided an update on the status of the plans to dredge the Harbor. He noted that an RFP for the work will be issued this July, and that the State pays for 75% of the overall cost. He noted that while currently dredging is done on a periodic basis, the Town was considering shifting to a more regular system of maintenance dredging as a more affordable alternative.
Mr. Fee noted that the primary goal of the Trustees of the Bathing Beach was to build a new bathhouse with expanded bathroom and showering facilities. The group discussed the use of the Bathing Beach parking lot by the Farmers Market, and asked, informally about the possibility of raising funds for the Beach by charging for its use of the site. Currently any funds raised would go directly to the Town’s General Fund.
Ben Wilcox stated that the HDIC’s top goal relative to the Harbor was to improve the physical connection between the Downtown and the Harbor through the creation of safe pedestrian access across 3A, both for downtown visitors to get to the Harbor, and also for boaters to easily access downtown. Mr. Perrault noted that it would be a good idea to check the timing and location of the traffic lights to ensure that there are sufficient gaps for pedestrians to safely cross.
John Riley noted that the Selectmen’s goal was to identify appropriate, environmentally friendly ways to generate revenue from the Harbor while maintaining its unique character. Additional goals were to create an office for the harbormaster and providing public bathrooms closer to the Town pier.
Mr. Riley also provided an update on the status of the plans to redesign the Hingham Rotary to a T intersection. At this point the Town has submitted the appropriate paperwork to the state, who will consider the request later this summer. The reconfiguration of the rotary would greatly enlarge the size of the open space area between Gallery 360 and the Lincoln Sailing Center. He noted that it did not appear that the Sailing Center would be using Barnes Wharf II for an expanded rowing center as previously planned.
Ms. Murphy stated that the Planning Board wanted to closely examine the current zoning for the Waterfront Business District and Official Open Space District to ensure that it provide for uses and dimensional intensities identified as appropriate through this planning effort. She noted that there has long been a divide in Town between those who felt that the area should be pastoral and park-like and those who wanted a more bustling commercial waterfront.
From the audience, Mr. Tom Patch noted that he had collected a significant amount of historical information about each of the parcels located at the Harbor. Mr. Hersey made a variety of suggestions about the ongoing maintenance of the Harbor area.
Alan Perrault suggested that a site walk would be helpful. The group agreed to hold the next meeting at the Harbor on June 29, 2009 at 6:30 PM. Members will meet at the Bathing Beach Parking Lot.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 PM