Greenport Village Board okays conflicting resolutions

The Greenport Village Board has yet to decide how to manage the mooring field in Stirling Harbor following a contentious final meeting in 2010.

By approving conflicting resolutions at the Dec. 27 session, the board left open two options: continuing to run the mooring field itself or leasing it to a professional operator.

A majority of board members voted to authorize village administrator David Abatelli and harbormaster Ken McDonald to obtain quotes for materials to replace moorings as needed, get the permits necessary and develop a proposal to seeks bids for adding four finger docks to the baymen’s dock.

A majority also approved a resolution offered by Trustee Michael Osinski to seek proposals from private operators to lease and operate the mooring fields, with repairs and maintenance up to the operator.

Even before the two votes, board members traded barbs because Mr. Osinski’s resolution wasn’t on the agenda, according to two of the participants.

Mr. Osinski, who had said at the previous week’s session that he would submit the proposal, challenged Mayor David Nyce ­­­— who prepares the meeting agendas ­— for having refused to list it on the agenda for the Dec. 27 session.

He later charged in an interview that the mayor had “purposely” rejected the resolution because it was submitted on Monday, Dec. 27, instead of the previous week, as required under the board’s rules. That shouldn’t have kept it off the agenda, Mr. Osinski argued.

Mr. Nyce, referring to the board’s 2010 decision to require the early submission of agenda items, said in an interview that Mr. Osinski had failed to follow protocol. According to board’s own rules, he noted, the mayor and village clerk draft the agenda by the Wednesday before its Monday meeting. A proposed agenda is then distributed to board members, who have time to request changes in wording or additions before it is posted for the public by the Friday before the meeting.

That process avoids a flurry of last-minute additions to the agenda to which the mayor and trustees might not have time to give proper consideration, Mr. Nyce said. But he acknowledged that the board can allow additions at the outset of the meeting, if board members agree by a majority vote.

The board eventually voted at the Dec. 27 session to add the resolution to the agenda after having agreed to accept an unrelated proposal from village attorney Joseph Prokop, according to Mr. Osinski.

“I’m elected,” he said later, arguing that he shouldn’t have had to fight to get a resolution considered by the board.

Mr. Osinski’s resolution calling for private operators to submit bids included the following conditions:
• Greenport residents would receive a 33 percent discount on renting a mooring;
• Up to half of all moorings would be reserved for village residents, as necessary;
• Increases in mooring fees would be limited to either the Consumer Price Index or some other established index;
• Exceptions to rate increases could be granted with Village Board approval;
• The lessee would be responsible for providing and maintaining all equipment;
• No moorings could be set so as to obstruct boat traffic in Stirling Harbor or at the entryway to the harbor;
• The lessee would be responsible for providing a dinghy dock, bathrooms, trash receptacles and all other facilities required by state law.

The issue of how to run the mooring fields came up for debate in November, when Mike Acebo of Brewer Yacht Yard charged at a board meeting that the village had been remiss in not providing parking, dingy docks, bathrooms, trash receptacles and other amenities he’s required by state law to provide his customers.

He complained about having to provide services to people using the village moorings, with little or no compensation. For 26 years, he said, he had been allowing the village’s customers to use his facilities, to the detriment of his regular customers. He wouldn’t continue to do so, he said.

Mayor Nyce said at the time that Mr. Acebo was wrong because the state’s rules for municipal marinas did not impose the same requirements that apply to private marinas.

It may not be illegal for the village to run the mooring field without the amenities required of a private operator, Mr. Acebo commented this week, but it’s certainly not what’s considered “best practices.”

During the discussion of Ms. Acebo’s complaint last month, Mr. Osinski argued that a professional marine operator could operate the mooring field better than the village.

“We can’t be in all these businesses,” Mr. Osinski said this week in a telephone interview, noting that the village runs the marina, carousel and ice skating rink in Mitchell Park. Asked about finding bidders who would be willing to work with the Village Board’s restrictions on pricing, he said, “We’ll see what they say. If they don’t meet these exact specifications, we can look at it.”

Mr. Acebo, who is among two or three people Mr. Osinski speculated might be interested in leasing the mooring fields and operating them, said in an interview this week that, depending on what the village set as initial rental fees, the arrangement could work for a private operator.

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