NEWBURY — Nearly two years after the money was appropriated, the town is ready to move forward with the purchase of a new harbor patrol boat.

Voters at a Special Town Meeting in October 2008 approved $12,500 for a new patrol boat.

Harbormaster Brendan Stokes had requested the funds the previous March.

"The current small boat is over 13 years old and in desperate need of replacement," Stokes wrote in his capital request. "The boat has had numerous breakdowns (over) the last two years while on patrol. The breakdowns required the boat to be towed in for repair. The boat is long past its useful life as a reliable patrol boat."

Six months later, in April 2009, Town Administrator Chuck Kostro sent Stokes an e-mail message asking the status of the acquisition.

"I have been working on specs and bids for this for quite a while. I am trying to finalize the bids this week," Stokes replied, according to the text of an e-mail message released yesterday by Kostro.

For some reason, the boat was never purchased. Stokes could not be reached for comment yesterday. A message left at the harbormaster's voice mail address at Town Hall was not immediately returned.

Kostro said he met with Stokes yesterday morning and was confident that the purchase will be expedited.

Stokes e-mailed Kostro last Wednesday, saying that police Chief Michael Reilly had told him on June 21 that "there was a purchasing freeze in effect."

"This is the first major purchase I have made that will require the bidding process," Stokes said. "I want to be sure to comply with all state and local laws and procedures. I would like some assistance and/or training if possible. Could I get some examples of other bid letter/forms the town has completed?"

Kostro responded the same day, reminding Stokes that all department heads had received a memo on May 18 explaining the procurement process.

"I have not, however, instituted any freeze on procurements," Kostro wrote.

Kostro wrote that he had formally designated Stokes to "solicit, open and evaluate bids for a new patrol boat."

Kostro also enclosed a copy of a completed procurement by the Newbury Town Library. "(Library Director) Jen Brown did an excellent job with this procurement and is a good model to follow."

"Frankly, I am baffled as to why you have not completed this much-needed procurement some time ago," Kostro wrote.

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