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Manchester looks at new vessel fee to help pay dredging costs

Posted on January 7, 2021

MANCHESTER — Town officials are looking at a new annual mooring fee to help cover dredging costs.

Officials are preparing for phase two of the Manchester Harbor project — a full dredge of the waters around Proctor’s Cove and its channel leading out of the harbor.

Three years ago, the town fully dredged Area C of Manchester Harbor, which includes the coast off Masconomo Park up approximately to the marinas. The town received a $750,000 state grant for the project, while the other half of the $1.5 million project was paid for through an allocation of the Manchester Waterway Fund.

The Proctor’s Cove project won’t kick off until 2025, but selectmen and Harbor Advisory Committee members are beginning to plan how the town will pay for it.

The hope is to have at least half of phase two’s $3.4 million price tag covered by money from the Waterway Fund and state grants, just as in phase one. Harbormaster Bion Pike said he anticipates around $500,000 should be available in the Waterway Fund by 2025. In addition, state dredging grants can match as much as $2.5 million.

Boaters will also need to chip in. At the selectmen’s meeting on Dec. 21, Pike said the Harbor Advisory Committee suggested implementing a $50 annual fee in 2025 for all vessels whether kept on a mooring or in a slip.

The new annual fee, if approved, would be earmarked for dredging. It would secure an additional $40,000 per year of revenue for the town. However, selectmen did not agree the fee should be flat.

“They felt that the 14-foot runabout would be paying the same as 50-foot yacht,” said Town Administrator Greg Federspiel. “They suggested the Harbor Advisory Committee look at a sliding scale based on the size of boat.”

The Harbor Advisory Committee hasn’t met since the last selectmen’s meeting. Federspiel expects the group to discuss the mooring fee again sometime this month.

Back before phase one kicked off, voters approved a $1 million bond to help pay for the first phase of dredging. But with the $750,000 state grant secured, the town ended up not using it.

“The bonding authority is still on the books,” said Federspiel, “but we can certainly go back to the voters to remind them if they felt it’s been too long. We’re not trying to surprise them 20 years down the line (about the bond).”

The town is beginning the engineering process for phase two.

“We’re planning out how we’re going to secure some of the permits,” explained Federspiel. “Some of them expire, so we have to properly time up all the requests.”

Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or

Source: gloucestertimes

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