Archived Story

Council wants ‘trial period’ for docks changes

Published 5:37pm Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Washington will proceed with a “trial period” when it comes to making changes concerning how the city’s waterfront docks are managed.

That decision came during the City Council’s meeting Monday. Using the trial period will allow the city to determine how those management changes are working and the costs associated with those changes, council members said.

City Manager Brian Alligood told the council that staff recommends not implementing the recommended changes until the new dockmaster’s station (which includes pubic restrooms and bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities for boaters) is built at the west end of the Stewart Parkway promenade.

Establishing a separate budget for the city-owned docks is one recommendation developed by a panel composed of city officials and the chairman of the Washington Harbor District Alliance.

That recommendation — and the others — came after the City Council directed City Manager Brian Alligood to review the previously adopted waterfront docks business plan with city staff and provide a recommendation to the council concerning a management plan. Alligood discussed the matter with John Rodman, city planner; Kristi Roberson, the city’s parks and recreation manager; Joe Taylor, chairman of the city’s Recreation Advisory Committee; and Chris Furlough, chairman of the Washington Harbor District Alliance.

In addition to recommendation of setting up a separate budget for the waterfront docks, the panel made these recommendations:

• Creation of a part-time dockmaster position to manage staff; market the docks and oversee facility maintenance. The dockmaster would report directly to Rodman.

• Reduction of part-time dock attendants to three positions with one working year-round, one

working seasonalIy and one working peak months.

•. Creation of a five-member Waterfront Docks Committee to advise and make recommendations to the dockmaster and Rodman. Committee members would include three at-large members selected by the council based on their boating experience and two members of the Washington Harbor District Alliance’s maritime committee.

• Delineation of areas of responsibility for the Dockmaster to include the docks and waterfront area, with the Festival Park area remaining under the supervision of the parks and recreation manager.

Councilman Doug Mercer expressed concerns about reserving two places on the Waterfront Docks Committee for two members of the WHDA’s maritime committee. He said the council should make all appointments to that committee, with the council considering any nominees for the committee that WHDA might offer.

Alligood addressed the idea of a separate budget for the docks.

“There would be no new funding that would be needed. We would propose that budget remain in the general fund and not as an enterprise fund. An enterprise fund is just an accounting tool,” Alligood said.

Alligood said the docks have a business component associated with them, similar to that of the city-owned Warren Field Airport. Alligood indicated the changing the management approach to the docks has merit.

“It would allow us to help that part of the city flourish because it truly is one of our doorsteps to the city. … We think it needs to be welcoming and inviting,” Alligood said.

Council member William Pitt said if changes don’t work out during the trial period, management of the docks can easily revert to the previous policies.

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