Waterfront gets plenty of attention

Published 6:27 pm Friday, May 1, 2009

By Staff
Blackbeard group wants to build ship and berth it in Washington
Contributing Editor
Discussion revolving around activities along Washington’s waterfront took up a significant segment of the City Council’s meeting Monday.
The Blackbeard Adventure Alliance shared with the council its plans to build a replica of the pirate Blackbeard’s sloop Adventure on the city’s waterfront and use Washington as the replica’s home port.
She also said the project would help preserve and promote the “maritime history of the Pamlico.” Mansfield also believes the project could become part of a maritime-heritage complex that could be part of the city’s waterfront.
The alliance would like to build the 65-foot-long vessel somewhere along the city’s waterfront, preferably on a part of the green space between the Estuarium and the former Maola plant. The replica would, from time to time, visit ports up and down the East Coast. While it is being built, a series of educational programs about shipbuilding and maritime history could be made available to students and the public, alliance members said. The alliance also wants to use the vessel, once it’s built, as an interactive museum.
That idea appealed to some council members, particularly Mayor Pro Tempore Doug Mercer. He likes the idea of a “working vessel” that would allow people to “see what it took to be under sail.”
The council said it wanted more information, especially regarding the alliance’s fundraising efforts, before it would consider allowing the replica to be built on the waterfront. The alliance is trying to raise about $5 million for the project. The alliance would like to begin building the replica by early next year.
In other business, the council gave the green light to the city and A.G. Swanner, owner of the Belle of Washington, to sign a contract that will allow the vessel, a party/cruise boat, to use Dock L on the city’s waterfront. Dock L is at the east end of the waterfront promenade and near the N.C. Estuarium.
Swanner plans to use that dock as the base of operations for the Belle of Washington, which will take people on dinner cruises and similar excursions on the Pamlico River. Swanner also asked the city to consider installing a hard-surface walkway from the promenade section adjacent to Dock L to nearby sewer lift station and a paved road from the lift station to Water Street. The road and walkway will make it easier for his patrons and suppliers to reach the vessel, he said.
Council members said they would address that issue after the contract regarding berthing of the vessel is signed.
The council also lifted the city’s no-wake ban along the waterfront for a wakeboarding/ski show June 20 or Aug. 8. The INT League plans to bring a one-day event to waterfront.
With an increasing number of requests to use the waterfront either on a short-term basis or long-term basis, council members said the city must be vigilant in making sure any use it allows there is an appropriate use and that the waterfront is protected.