Greenport considers privatizing mooring fields

Greenport Village is not in violation of rules for the operation of mooring fields, Mayor David Nyce insisted at Monday night’s Village Board work session. But the question remains whether the village should run its mooring field or seek a professional to do it.

Trustee Michael Osinksi said he’d call for a vote this Monday on seeking private contractors. The mayor will also call for a vote, but he will propose improving the mooring field and keeping it a village operation.

In November, Mike Acebo of Brewer Yacht Yard charged that the village was failing to meet state requirements for operating its mooring fields and that he was tired, after 26 years, of having to provide services for boaters that the village should have been providing under state law.

But Mr. Nyce said on Monday a check with the New York State Department of State revealed that standards for private operators differ from than those imposed on municipalities.

Greenport, he said, doesn’t have to have a dinghy dock to provide transportation for mooring renters to reach their boats. Nor does it have to provide parking, bathrooms and showers for its customers, he added.

Nevertheless, Trustee Michael Osinski said he objected to the village running the operation without meeting the top standards. “In a sense, we’re competing with them,” Mr. Osinski said of private marina operators. He also expressed concern about the village’s liability if a boat were to break free from a faulty mooring.

The village can’t possibly meet the standards to which private marinas are held, Mr. Nyce said.
“Municipalities are not run for profit,” the mayor said. “Not that it should be slipshod,” he added. “I don’t like the idea of leasing the field out,” he said.

Mr. Osinski said he knows of at least three firms that would be interested in bidding to operate the village mooring fields. He called for a resolution to be put on this Monday night’s agenda to seek a request for proposals.

Mr. Nyce said he’d put his own resolution on the agenda, calling on the village to improve the existing mooring fields over a two-year period and keep them in village hands.

Harbormaster Kenneth McDonald told Village Board members that at least 26 of the existing 40 moorings need to be replaced, and all need to be inspected regularly to ensure they’re in good condition. He estimated the cost at about $100,000. He also outlined a plan for creating floating docks that would provide space for additional moorings.

What concerns Mr. Osinski is that municipalities, with a lot on their plates, have a habit of cutting back on maintenance, the trustee said. Even if there’s an investment to bring the mooring field up to par, he said he worries that a future board, in an effort to save money, might not invest in ongoing maintenance.

“There are people in the private sector who would do a better job,” Mr. Osinski said.

Trustee George Hubbard pointed out that a private company would take over the mooring field and make necessary repairs only if given a long-term contract. If the arrangement wasn’t working well within a couple of years, the village could still be stuck with a 20- or 30-year lease, he said.

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