Club sails calm water

Published 2:58 am Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By Staff
So far, city optimistic about proposed sailing school
Contributing Editor
The Washington City Council spent much of its time Monday dealing with activities on or adjacent to the city’s harbor and waterfront.
The council authorized Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, the North Carolina Estuarium and the Little Washington Sailing Club to file an application for a permit to place a floating platform at the rear of the Estuarium. The city owns the property.
A Coastal Area Management Act permit is required for the platform that will accommodate six 14-foot-long sailing dinghies. The sailboats will be used by the sailing club as it provides basic sailing instruction to area young people (ages 10 through 18) for a fee.
The program is intended to promote self reliance, water safety, sportsmanship and teamwork in an eco-friendly environment, said Bill Walker, one of the club’s organizers . He asked the council to support the permit request.
Walker said the sailing program will attract people to the city’s waterfront.
Mayor Judy Meier Jennette expressed some concern about the sailing program running out of steam after its novelty wears off. Jennette said she does not want people to blame the city if the sailing program disappears from the city’s waterfront.
Walker said the people behind the sailing program are dedicated to making sure it prospers, because they see a need for such a program in the area.
The program has been endorsed by the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation and the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association.
In other business, Monday, the council decided to review a request by Capt. Larry Williams with Sea Tow-Pamlico Sound for the city to provide docking space for one of its boats, probably a 26-footer or 22-footer, at the city docks. In exchange for the berth, Sea Tow-Pamlico Sound would provide some water-related services for the city, Williams said.
Sea Tow-Pamlico Sound is willing to remove debris from the city’s harbor, respond to fuel spills, provide pilot-vessel services, recover vessels that have broken away from their moorings or anchorages and provide storm-preparation assistance such as assisting the city to evacuate boats from city docks.
Council members indicated they like Williams’ proposal. Councilman Archie Jennings said the city “should find a way to structure this agreement.”
City officials and Williams will further develop Williams’ proposal and bring it to the council for action.
In other action, the council will conduct a special meeting later this month to approve a lease between the city and the trapeze school it approved last month.
At first, the council indicated it would address the lease issue at its March meeting, but Soloman said waiting that long would result in the trapeze school not opening until May. Last month, the council said the trapeze school could operate next to the waterfront from mid-March through mid-November.
Soloman asked the council to expedite the lease approval, if possible. Meanwhile, the city and trapeze school continue to negotiate the rent the school will pay for operating on city property.