Harbor’s fate hinges on land

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The priority for the future of the harbor hinges on the town’s acquisition of properties on or near the waterfront, according to recommendations from the Harbor Planning Committee.

Engineer Noel Musson, who is working as a consultant to the committee, presented an update on the committee’s work Tuesday during a regular selectmen’s meeting.

The recommendation to buy property on the waterfront came as no surprise to selectmen. The town for years has been pursuing the purchase of property near the Manset Town Dock. Voters in 2015 turned down a proposal to purchase the Knote property across from the dock. Recently, there has been a renewed effort to buy the Hook property, which is adjacent to the dock. The town currently leases it on an annual basis.

What is new is the committee’s recommendation for the town to consider buying both the Hook and the Knote properties.

“The conclusion is they both are equally important,” Musson said.

The land is needed to alleviate existing parking issues at the dock and allow for an increase in the number of moorings in the harbor. According to Harbormaster Adam Thurston, there now are 90 people on a waiting list, with a wait time of between three and five years.

“There’s the opportunity to meet the demand on the water side,” Musson said. “We need to meet the demand on the land side.”

Musson said the committee also is urging the town to inventory and maintain other less well-known public access points to the harbor.

A mooring plan should be established for the inner harbor to increase the number of moorings, according to the committee. Selectmen pointed out that a mooring plan was done five years ago but never implemented. They asked if that plan could be modified to accommodate recent changes in the use of the harbor.

Among those changes, according to Thurston, is a greater demand for moorings for small boats than when the plan was done. He told selectmen that he believed the plan easily…

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