The deteriorating shoreline along the Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach is not only beginning to impede boat traffic, but could potentially affect the roadway.
That's why the Parks and Recreation Commission voted unanimously last week to move forward with a shore stabilization project estimated to cost in the area of $800,000. The project will include reinforcing the shoreline on the south and western sides of the marina, including the boat ramp, as well as dredging.
The commission recommends that half the expense be taken on by the town, while half should be generated through potential increases in the marina-user fees.
"There seems to be some sort of disagreement between how much of this will benefit the town and how much will benefit the boaters," said commission Chairman Charles Haberstroh.
The Parks and Recreation Department staff had recommended that boat owners pay 75 percent of the cost, but the commission favored the recommendation by the Boating Advisory Committee to share the costs 50-50.
"To really hold the boaters for any more than 50 percent of the financial burden would really be out of line," said resident Lisa Parrelli-Gray.
"Paying for public roadways is to me really a town responsibility," said Haberstroh.
"The whole town benefits ... from having a beautiful marina, not to mention the revenue that comes in," Commissioner Andy Moss said, saying the town has under invested in Compo Beach as a whole.
Commissioner Stuart Rogan pointed out, however, that as Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy was out of town for the May 21 meeting, it might be prudent to wait for his direct input. "I know Stuart had a really strong feeling about this percentage ... so I think we should table this until he's here."
But the commission decided not to wait.
"This was critical infrastructure for all town residents," said Mark Russi, chairman of the Boating Advisory Committee.
He said that deterioration of the marina wall "threatens the safety of the roadway," which circles around the south beach at Compo. "It can potentially compromise that safe access," he said.
In a memo to the commission, McCarthy wrote, "The final project will include establishing a new guide rail fence at the top of the slope and an improved walking path along the south shore."
He said the project has received approval from the state and will now proceed through the local approval process, which includes the Planning and Zoning Commission, Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting.
The shore stabilization itself is estimated to cost $470,000, while the dredging is projected at $207,000. A $70,000 contingency is also being budgeted.
The question was raised as to why, if the design engineer presented his plan in December 2012, it took a year and a half to come before the commission. Dan DeVito, operations supervisor for the Parks and Recreation Department, said the plan was "just going through the permit process, which takes a long time, which we just got approved."
He noted that the original estimate was $600,000, but the cost was adjusted upward because of the delay. He said the project could start in October.
"We've been talking about this for a long time," Moss said. "It's a matter of how it's funded, which to me is a really big issue."
Moss was asked about how the plan relates to forthcoming recommendations of the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee, which Moss chairs.
"Obviously there is no master plan yet," he said, but the intention would be to somehow coordinate this project with that plan once it's finalized, "as much as possible you can coordinate with a moving target."
In discussing the decision for the 50-50 cost split, Haberstroh noted that the town's determination of funding ratios are arbitrary and might benefit from clearer guidelines.
"There are some things that are 70 percent ... Levitt contributed 80 percent ... a pretty high percentage of the library's stuff is funded by the town."
"It's really all over the map," he said.