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Task Force members present: Susan Murphy, Planning Board; Tom Foley filling in for 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, Ken Corson, Harbormaster, and Katy Lacy, Town Planner.
In the audience Nick Bonn, Tom Patch, and M.J. Shultz joined the meeting, as well as Martha White and Kevin Mooney of DCR’s Waterways Division.
The meeting commenced at 7:05 PM
The group reviewed and voted to approve the Minutes of June 15 and June 29 2009.
Summary of Activity to Date
Ms. Murphy recapped what the Task Force had accomplished to date, including creating a list of the top priorities for each stakeholder group (see Minutes of June 15) and conducting a thorough site inspection.
The group reviewed a draft list of items on which it appeared that there already was consensus. These included the following:
• Maintaining Harbor as a multi-use area (not all beach, marina, park or commerce)
• Maintaining/enhancing selected views of the water
• Providing some sort of safe pedestrian access for full length of Harbor
• Improving pedestrian access/link across 3A from Downtown
• Providing improved public bathroom facilities
• Improved goose management
• Ongoing maintenance of public areas (mowing, trash removal)
Nick Amdur suggested that another item on which the group seemed to agree was to keep Steamboat Wharf as a more natural park-like area for fishing and passive recreation. Ben Wilcox noted that it seemed to him that there was consensus on creating a safe pedestrian access point from the Town Pier or 3 Otis over the water to Whitney Wharf to avoid making pedestrians walk so close to roadway traffic on 3A. The group agreed to re-visit this list regularly as conclusions were reached.
Input from DCR Representatives
Ms. White, Director of Waterways, Massachusetts Department of Conservation Services, and Kevin Mooney, Waterways introduced themselves.
Mr. Mooney provided a variety of comments on the Town’s 2007 Harbor Plan.
Mr. Mooney indicated that DCR had recently completed the dredging plan for Hingham Harbor, and had some concerns about how to address dredging under the two Chapter 91 Marinas located in the Harbor. He had met with Ken Corson, however, and his concerns were addressed. At this point the Town, through the Selectmen’s Office, will be putting out an RFP for the actual work, which is hoped will begin in October.
In response to a question about what happens with existing moorings and slips during the dredging and after, Mr. Mooney noted that all mooring will be taken out, and then put back in accordance with a Town-wide mooring plan currently being developed by the Harbormaster’s office. It is hoped that with the new mooring plan many additional mooring can be fitted in.
Mr. Mooney also noted that the State does not generally pay for the cost of dredging under private marinas. In light of the fact that the marina operators would be benefitting greatly from the dredging, the Town needed to meet with the owners of 3 Otis and 26 Summer Street to figure out how they would be supporting the project.
Ms. King provided information about potential funding sources and other similarly sized Towns that had taken on similar planning projects, and agreed to come back and meet with the group to provide additional information in the future.
Draft Outline for Task Force Report
Ms. Murphy asked the group to clarify what they wanted to accomplish through this planning exercise. She identified a variety of potential target goals such as: produce the report, carry out recommendations, initiate modifications to town policy, regulations, zoning, etc. She noted that the goal is to “design/build” the report with information and recommendations as we go rather than assembling large amounts of information and input and try to create the report from whole cloth at the end.
The group reviewed a draft outline for the report, and made a few revisions.
Ms. Murphy asked Selectmen Riley about the possibility of including Harbor Planning as one of the topics to be addressed at the next Annual Town Forums. The Forum, which is intended to provide an opportunity for a more in-depth public discussion of specific issues, would be a good opportunity to gather public input on what Town residents are looking for at the Harbor.
Ms. Murphy noted that at the next meeting it would be good to have all three of the private property owners present. The goal is to start to identify short-term and long terms goals. Ben Wilcox noted that it seemed important to make sure that only those goals were listed that had some chance of actually happening. Ken Corson also agreed that he would identify the Harbormaster’s immediate short-term goals, as well as those things that were essential to running his operation. The next meeting of the Harbor Task Force was scheduled for Monday, July 27 at 7:00 PM at Hingham Town Hall.