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Date of Issue: April 29, 2009

Bucks, boats interest BB mooring field committee

The Bradenton Beach advisory committee tasked with drafting a harbor management plan is tackling questions about boats and bucks.

One batch of questions the committee explored during a meeting April 21 involved: What size boats? How many boats? And for what durations should boats be allowed in the mooring field south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier?

Another batch of questions involved bucks, as in dollars and cents: How much will it cost to create the mooring field? How much will it cost to operate and maintain the field? Can the city create a self-sustaining operation?

The committee, working with city project/program manager Lisa Marie Phillips and consultants with Scheda Ecological Associates and the IBI Group, was scheduled to reconvene April 28 to conduct more work on the harbor management plan, part of an effort to create a recreational boating master plan for the city.

The group first met April 7 to review its mission, then regrouped April 21 to review the elements in a harbor management plan.

Sue Thompson of the IBI Group led the presentation, which involved putting a series of questions to the committee for consideration:

  • What is the city’s authority regarding the mooring field?
  • What is the harbormaster’s authority?
  • What is the mooring renter’s responsibility?
  • How should rates be calculated for each vessel and duration?
  • When should renters pay fees?
  • Should renters be required to carry liability insurance? If so, how much?
  • Should the harbormaster make an initial inspection of a boat?
  • How often should inspections take place?
  • Should the harbormaster be able to tow boats?
  • What should be included in the rules and regulations section of the plan?
  • What issues should be covered in storm contingency guidelines?
  • How should the harbormaster work with the police department?
  • How can the rental revenue fees for mooring be used by the city?

Some questions, the committee agreed, need to be given some thought, while others proved easy to answer.

The committee agreed, for example, that sailboats and motorboats should be permitted in the field and that a variety of options should be available for renters, from overnight mooring to annual mooring of boats.

The committee also agreed that the field should contain mooring spots for boats 20-50 feet long, with the harbormaster having some latitude for smaller or larger vessels.

Also, the committee previously agreed to allow mooring in the field, but not anchoring.

And some questions, specifically those pertaining to revenue and expenditures, really caught the committee’s attention.

Committee members wondered whether mooring fields make money, lose money or break even, and why some are more successful than others.

“I need to get more information,” said committee member Michael Harrington, when told the committee would be asked to recommend rates for the mooring field.

Phillips said the average monthly rate for mooring in Florida is $300 and that the average occupancy rate is about 70 percent.

But committee members asked the consultants to provide budgets for other mooring fields, as well as some fee examples.

“This has got to be self-sustaining,” said committee member Bill Shearon. “That’s the key.… We don’t want to put in a Cadillac when we can only afford a used Chevy.”

Phillips said the committee is scheduled to complete its work by the end of May. The plan will then be shared with the commission, as well as state and federal agencies, for recommendations before it is formally submitted for approval.