Mooring madness roils waters

09/23/2010 12:00 AM |


Greenport Village officials face challenges from several boat owners who argue that they’re entitled to use moorings in Stirling Harbor, while the village maintains it regulates the mooring fields.

“Totally fabricated” is how Greenport Mayor David Nyce characterized complaints by marine contractor John Costello about threats he said he’d received from the new village harbormaster about moorings Mr. Costello had placed in Stirling Harbor.

In a letter to the mayor, Mr. Costello wrote that harbormaster Ken McDonald came to Mr. Costello’s Hanff Boatyard on Sterling Street and “threatened one of my employees” that he would confiscate Mr. Costello’s boats and moorings in Stirling Harbor.

“Mr. McDonald has my phone numbers for my office and my cell and he is welcome to talk to and/or threaten me personally,” Mr. Costello wrote. He claimed that the former harbormaster, Joe Angevine, had approved the moorings that Mr. Costello had placed in the harbor.

Mr. Nyce, commenting on the letter, said Mr. Costello had placed four moorings without permits and that two had been removed by the village and the others were scheduled to be removed.

Mr. Costello never had permission to place the moorings at all, much less where he did, according to the mayor, who added that Mr. Costello’s assertions to the contrary were “totally fabricated.”

Several months ago, the mayor apologetically told Mr. Costello he regretted delays in providing him with space for his moorings and cited the marine contractor’s services to the village through the years.

But Mr. Nyce said Monday night that no steps had been taken to approve any moorings for the marine contractor because of issues with two private homeowners in the Stirling Harbor area who had what the mayor said are illegal moorings in that space.

Joe Angevine denied Mr. Costello’s assertion that he had approved two moorings in Stirling Harbor for Mr. Costello in state waters off Bay Avenue. “No, it ain’t true,” Mr. Angevine said in a telephone interview Tuesday morning.

Once the conflict with the two homeowners was resolved, Mr. Costello was supposed to be able to place his moorings in the same spots where their moorings are, Mr. Angevine said.

Meanwhile, the spots Mr. Costello chose conflict with other moorings, the former harbormaster said. What’s more, Mr. Costello placed four moorings — two in waters off Bay Avenue and two in Stirling Harbor, the mayor said.

Mr. Costello couldn’t be reached for comment but his letter was copied to The Suffolk Times.

In it, he wrote that he had previously submitted suggestions to Mr. McDonald for possible repairs to the mooring system that he thought would garner more revenue for the village. That proposal was supposed to be distributed to Village Board board members, but hasn’t been, he complained.

Mr. McDonald couldn’t be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the disagreement continues over the two moorings used by private homeowners in the Stirling Harbor area. They have maintained that the Army Corps of Engineers established their rights to those locations by issuing permits for them.

But it’s not within the Corps’ purview to issue such permits, the mayor said in an interview. The New York State Department of State ceded that authority to the village under Greenport’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, Mr. Nyce said. The village controls the bay bottom out to 1,000 feet from the shoreline, he said.

An attorney for one of the two homeowners told the mayor that his client had long been allowed to use the mooring at no cost until this year, when he was informed by the village that it would cost $1,000 a year, the standard rate for a resident. Fee or no fee, the mayor said, those spots are being occupied by those homeowners illegally so there’s no guarantee they can keep them.

The village maintains a waiting list for mooring locations. When a permit is issued, residents are charged $1,000 a year for a mooring, while non-residents must pay $1,500, he said.

The village is in the process of redesigning its moorings fields, he said. The new harbormaster is in the process of assessing existing moorings and has discovered that some are assigned to residents who subsequently built docks and have no need for moorings, he said. That could result in freeing up some existing moorings to lease to other boaters, the mayor said.

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