NEWBURYPORT — The City Council is scheduled to meet tonight to consider a $40,000 transfer to pay for a feasibility study for the potential replacement of the Cutter Fire Station in the West End.
The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 60 Pleasant St.
The money would come from the city’s general fund and pay for a feasibility study of a new station on an expanded site and an alternative site, as well as the feasibility of renovating the Fire Department’s headquarters on Green Street.
In recent months, city officials have raised the importance of replacing the small, outdated Cutter Fire Station, either by building on the same site or a nearby location, with one possible option being an undeveloped plot across from the Park & Ride lot on Storey Avenue.
The land, which extends from Hale Street to Storey Avenue, was turned over to the city by the state Department of Transportation in 1995 and is now home to the Little River Nature Trail and the Braunhardt bicycle and pedestrian trail.
There was recently some controversy involving this location after Jerry Mullins, president of the Parker River Clean Water Association, sent a letter to Councilor at large Charlie Tontar, saying it would be “legally impossible” to use the Storey Avenue lot because of an agreement with the state that requires Newburyport to keep the land as open space.
But Geordie Vining, the city’s senior project manager, has since disputed the claim, saying the city can legally build on the property.
Also on the agenda is an order that would increase costs for boaters docking on the Central Waterfront.
The Harbor Commission proposed the changes to the fee structure with the intent of synchronizing it with the Dockwa marine management software system, which was adopted by the city last year and allows boaters to reserve and pay for dock space online.
The fee increases are not due to costs associated with the Dockwa system. Councilor Charles Tontar previously told The Daily News that the increases are meant to bring the rates “more in line with the value the city offers boaters,” and to provide enough income to support the harbormaster enterprise fund.
The city charges hourly and nightly fees for boats to dock on the waterfront, with costs depending on the size of the boat.
As proposed, the new fees would charge boaters a flat rate for three-hour increments, ranging from $10 to $30 depending on boat length.
There would also be a day rate of $3 per foot for boats under 50 feet, $4 per foot for boats 51 to 100 feet, and $5 per foot for boats over 101 feet. These rates would increase by $1 per foot on weekends, holidays and during special events.
Moorings for all boats would cost a $50 flat fee per day.
Annual waterway permits would increase from $4 to $5 per foot while annual mooring permits would increase from $3 to $4 per foot. Dinghy dock permits would increase from $225 to $250, and annual commercial fish pier permits would rise from $1,200 to $1,700.
For further reading on the controversy involving the potential location of a new Cutter Fire Station, visit https://www.newburyportnews.com/news/local_news/city-official-says-fire-station-site-is-legal/article_8d44ee49-4855-5bc5-b32a-964846130118.html
To read the orders, or to view the full agenda for the meeting, visit https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/sites/newburyportma/files/agendas/03-09-2020_council_packet_-_committee_items_-_final.pdf
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.