NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 6, 2013

Harbor plan moving ahead

(Continued)

Committee member Bob Cronin also spoke in favor of expansion, and supported the action of sending the transfer measure to the council.

Brad Duffin, chairperson of the Harbor Commission, said the average transient boater spends close to $70 per day in a community in which the boat is docked.

Some modest-sized harbor communities successful in attracting thousands of boaters per summer can generate more than $1 million per year in ancillary spending, city officials say.

The Harbor Commission has been communicating with both an architectural firm and a design company as it pursues its goal of an expanded facility.

If the council approves the transfer, the Harbor Commission can retain professional help and acquire a clearer idea of what can be done, and at what cost.

The harbormaster's office generates more than $300,000 a year in revenue from boater permits, and thus the project is in the position to get started without the use of taxpayer funds.

City officials say that if the proposed facility moves forward, a revenue bond could be floated based, at least in part, on the promise of revenues from the harbormaster's treasury.

Unlike the construction project that the Newburyport Redevelopment Authority has been pursuing, the harbormaster headquarters expansion appears to have widespread backing.

Cameron said that during campaigning this fall, he encountered no opposition to the expansion idea.

City Councilor Barry Connell, who attended the meeting though not a committee member, said, "We are obviously a waterfront community with an economic interest in those who visit the city.

"Boaters do research on where they want to dock. Our harbor is difficult to get through, so we should be ready to offer them useful services like bathrooms and showers once they arrive here."

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