ALN public forum – Newport Daily News article Oct. 31, page 1

Neighbors air concerns over plan for marina

By Sean Flynn  Staff writer Newport Daily News

newport_daily_newsNEWPORT — A new 25-slip marina the Hyatt Regency Newport hotel is proposing to build northeast of Goat Island would have floating docks 100 to 150 feet offshore so as not to interfere with the eelgrass beds along the shoreline, according to the marina’s designer.  SEE the FORUM VIDEO HERE

Gus Kreuzkamp, owner and master engineer of Harbor Engineering LLC of Barrington, presented the marina plans to more than two dozen people who gathered at the Newport Public Library Wednesday night for a forum sponsored by the Alliance for a Livable Newport. Most of those who attended are residents of the Point, the neighborhood just opposite the proposed marina site. Bart Dunbar, who lives on Bridge Street, brought up the eelgrass buffer zone because he believes the marina would “stick out egregiously into public waters.”

The state Coastal Resources Management Council “could allow the marina closer to shore above the eelgrass,” Dunbar said. It depends on how many people on the council are “eelgrass supporters,” he said.

Kreuzkamp disagreed. The project requires both federal and state approval, he said. In his discussions with a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it was clear “there is no way to get floats over an eelgrass area,” he said. “It’s a non-starter to do anything over or near eelgrass. The National Marine and Fisheries Service is very protective of these fields.”

Eelgrass beds serve as nurseries for many species of economically important fish and shellfish.

Kreuzkamp and Bob Lacasse, the Hyatt’s general manager, heard neighborhood concerns and fielded questions for close to two hours at the forum. They met privately two weeks ago with residents of the Point to make sure they knew the hotel will not permit Jet Skis, cigar boats, parasailing or loud parties at the marina because they would disturb hotel guests as well as nearby residents. 

Lacasse emphasized that point during the forum.

“Our clients want to get out of New York and enjoy the tranquility of Newport,” he said. “They do not want to run into cigar boats here.”

The marina would provide potential clients with docking space for their yachts, he said.

“All we are looking for is an on opportunity to increase our business,” he said.

The marina plans were presented this month to the city’s Waterfront Commission and the Planning Board. The City Council plans to hold a public hearing on the plans at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Isabel Griffith, president of the Alliance for a Livable Newport, said the Planning Board has recommended the number of slips be reduced from 25 to 15 and that there be a public dinghy dock at the marina.

“The two boards approved the plan with reservations, limitations and recommendations,” she said. Councilman Justin S. McLaughlin said the council would receive the reports of the Waterfront Commission and the Planning Board, and make its own recommendations on what requirements and conditions should be imposed on the proposed marina.

“It is unlikely the council would vote against the proposal,” he said. Ward 1 Councilman Marco T. Camacho, who represents the area that would be impacted by the marina, also was present at the forum and responded to residents’ concerns. While the Coastal Resources Management Council will take the city’s recommendations into consideration, it is CRMC that will make the final decision, the council members said.

The council and City Manager Jane Howington will be requesting that CRMC hold a public hearing on the proposal in Newport, McLaughlin said.

The earliest the marina would be open for business would be the boating season of 2015, Kreuzkamp said.

Some residents of the Point were concerned about the size of the boats that would be docked at the marina. The Hyatt’s plan showed the outline of two 100-foot-long boats at the outer dock. The Planning Board is recommending boat lengths be limited to 50 feet, Griffith said.

The city maintains a mooring field offshore of Goat Island, and four of the moorings will be relocated, as agreed to by Newport Harbor master Tim Mills, Kreuzkamp said, so there is at least a 150-foot channel between the docked boats and the mooring field. From the edge of the easternmost dock to the mooring field would be 194 feet. Boats would be tied parallel to the dock so they would not interfere with the channel, he said.

Some residents were concerned about fueling operations at the marina. Lacasse said no fueling would be allowed.

Others were concerned about possible sewage spills from the boats, since people swim, kayak and paddleboard from the piers along the Point shoreline. Kreuzkamp said there would be an efficient pump-out station at the marina and modern boats are designed to avoid such spills.

Not all Point residents present were opposed to the marina plan.

John Shea, president of the Driftwood Condominium Association, said “most of the condo owners are in favor of the marina.” The condominiums are on the waterfront near the Elm Street Pier and face the Hyatt.

“We’d love to see the company make that shoreline more appealing,” he said.

Lauren Carson, a resident of the Point and a member of the city’s Energy and Environment Commission, said the marina should be a “green.”

“I’d love to see this become a sustainable marina,” she said.

Lacasse and Kreuzkamp said that is their goal as well.

“Absolutely,” Kreuzkamp said.



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