GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

April 18, 2013

Massport, Manchester ease mooring talks

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — MANCHESTER — The Massachusetts Port Authority and Manchester’s harbormaster, Bion Pike, said a new plan to replace block and chain moorings with more environmentally friendly helix moorings is still in the works.

James Hatch, chairman of the Harbor Advisory Committee said that, throughout the initial planning process, the were two separate plans. The initial plan was to replace the block like moorings which are beyond the Manchester Yacht Club in the harbor with helix moorings. Massport then proposed installing new moorings in the area of Sand Dollar Bay.

Hatch had previously expressed concerns the committee felt that new moorings in Sand Dollar Bay might inhibit water activities in the bay, which lies to the left of the harbor.

The first version of the proposal however, had the two combined in one mooring plan, Hatch said.

Matthew Brelis, Massport’s director of media relations, said Wednesday that the mooring offer itself was never rescinded, as Pike had indicated Tuesday. Massport officials thought it would be best to discuss the moorings with the Harbor Advisory Committee to understand their concerns before going before the Board of Selectmen, Brelis said in an email to the Times.

”The mooring program is designed to protect eelgrass, and Massport is supportive of that effort,” Brelis said.

Harbormaster Bion Pike noted eelgrass acts as a nursery for shellfish and other small marine life.

Brelis said Massport has spent close to $500,000 to replace eelgrass that was taken when a federally mandated runway safety project was built at Logan International Airport between 2011 and 2012.

He said the entire plan intends to fund the replacement of more than 200 moorings, with about half of those in Manchester.

Brelis added that the same mooring offer was made to Beverly, as Massport continues to look toward Boston Harbor for additional moorings.

Wednesday, Pike said the talks for replacing the block and chain moorings are still in the works.

”We are waiting for them to come up with another legal draft,” he said.

Hatch said a meeting between Massport and the Harbor Advisory Committee is also in the works to better define the project, but there is no date slated yet.

However, Pike said the installation of new moorings in Sand Dollar Bay was not being considered by the town.

”From the town’s standpoint, that’s just not going to happen at this time,” he said Wednesday.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.