Harbor issues discussed

Published 10:28 am Friday, February 6, 2015

Although a fueling station at the city’s docks along the Stewart Parkway promenade would serve local and visiting boaters, some people believe it would pose environmental hazards.

The fueling-station issue surfaced again during the Washington City Council’s Jan. 26 meeting when John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural services, talked about some challenges his department faces in coming months. Rodman’s comments came during the council’s strategic planning session with city department heads.

“I think one of the most important things for us down on the waterfront docks is we have to investigate the location of a fuel source. Whether that’s public or private, we haven’t determined that yet,” Rodman said.

Councilman Doug Mercer opposes a fueling station at the docks.

“As far as I’m concerned, we should stay as far away from fuel on our waterfront as we possibly can. There are too many liabilities associated with fueling facilities for us to assume,” Mercer said.

“We (might) want to help somebody else do it,” Mayor Mac Hodges said. “I don’t want to be in that business.”

Mercer said if a fueling station at the city docks were practical, “somebody would already be doing it.”

Rodman said providing a fueling station at the docks could increase the number of boats that rent berths there.

About two years ago, the Washington Harbor District Alliance’s maritime committee offered several suggestions concerning the docks, but it did not advocate for fueling facilities at the docks to service boats. The committee estimated it would cost $250,000 to set up a fueling station at the waterfront docks. The team noted the fueling station is not part of the Visualization and Reinvestment Strategy for the city’s downtown and harbor districts.

During his comments to the council, Rodman discussed other waterfront and harbor matters.

“We are looking to develop a procedure and a budget for the emergency removal of derelict boats that are out in the harbor,” Rodman said.

An incident in 2007 focused attention on the issue. A derelict sailboat, left in the harbor for months, somehow made its way up the Pamlico River toward the U.S. Highway 17 bridge, making itself a hazard to boating traffic on the river and posing a danger of damage to the bridge.

Rodman’s department has other related work in mind. The city is looking for ways to make the docks bring in more revenue.

“We want to investigate a new policy for use of commercial activity on the waterfront. Right now, we have very few commercial activities on the dock. We have three with the Jeanie B, A.G. Swanner’s boat — I forget what the name of it is — plus the Estuarium’s boat,” Rodman said. “So, we wanted to look at some policies developing new commercial activity along the waterfront.”

Swanner’s boat is the Belle of Washington, a cruise/party boat that’s berthed on the waterfront.

As for the Jeanie B, under an agreement with the city, the schooner would occupy space on the waterfront from Jan. 1 to approximately June 15 of any year. After its summer voyages, it would return to the waterfront from Aug. 15 to Dec. 31. While in Washington, the vessel would offer scheduled sunset/stargazing trips on certain days while other days would be set aside for tours.














About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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