Resistance to first steps in harbor management

Our St. Augustine local news reporter watched last night as commissioners listened to complaints triggered by last weekend’s removal of more than a dozen mooring balls from the waters of Salt Run.

City General Services Director Jim Piggott confirmed the actions taken by city employees and went on to explain that only mooring balls – with no boats attached – were removed.

A sometimes contentious discussion ensued between commissioners, staff and those who spoke before the meeting.

The removal of mooring balls is part of the city’s program to develop fixed and assignable mooring fields in accordance with the Harbor Management Plan approved by the City Commission in December.

Piggott said public notices and letters to registered owners will be provided in the future before any further mooring balls are removed in Salt Run and the Matanzas Bay. Concerns remain, however, that it will be possible to connect with each mooring ball owner as the city moves forward.

Jay Bliss, a Port and Waterway Authority commissioner and co-chair of the organization “Sailors, Paddlers and Rowers of St Augustine”, said he contacted the city after learning the balls were being removed. Bliss says he was told they are being held in storage.

“But, the ordinance states that the city shall attempt to give reasonable notice,” Bliss said. Piggott responded by saying, since, in this case, there were no vessels attached, “there was no way of identifying who owned them.”

Piggot said the mooring field timeline includes a reservation period beginning June 1st with waterfront property owners; completion of private mooring ball removal by July 1st and six to eight weeks of mooring field installation beginning July 5th.

Under the plan, 178 moorings will be installed, including 80 in Salt Run, and 28 north and 70 south of the Bridge of Lions.

Photo credit: © 2010 Historic City News staff photograph

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