Contentious boat still washed up on Saugatuck Shores
WESTPORT — A controversial boat that broke free from its mooring and washed up on the Saugatuck Shores during a September storm has still not been removed, and nearby residents are becoming increasingly frustrated.
“You have a case where a guy has presumably just abandoned the boat and stuffed junk on board and I don’t know why our harbor should let that happen,” Todd Freeman, a resident who lives near Saugatuck Shores, said.
Even before the boat washed close to shore during the Sept. 17 storm, the boat’s owner, Ed Train, received criticism from Westport residents who called his boat disheveled. Train, who lives in Weston, has maintained permits to dock his two boats at the Westport shore for the past 20 years and himself admitted his boat could use some TLC.
“It would be easy for someone not involved in the process to say it’s just sitting there and nothing’s happening, but that’s absolutely not the case,” Train said, adding he has worked on formulation of a plan to remove the boat every day since it became unmoored. Financial challenges have made it difficult to hire a salvage company to remove the boat, Train said.
Freeman and other residents who live near Train’s washed-up boat reached out to First Selectman Jim Marpe with concerns, including the boat may hit telephone and power wires close to the shore.
“There’s a chance the boat will break up, and if it does, you’re going to have a serious mess on the beach, Freeman said. At the time Train’s boat washed up on the Saugatuck, onlookers reported an oily smell and expressed concern contaminants may have leaked from the boat.
“It presents the town with a very tricky situation in determining who is responsible for removing private property from private property,” Marpe said. He noted the boat has to be removed during an astronomical high tide, which won’t occur for another two to three weeks.
“The town is not paying for it. That’s in part why this has taken so long. It’s a challenge for Ed to fund it. That’s where we’ve had to be careful as a community as to how much we could or couldn’t do to ensure taxpayer money won’t be involved,” Marpe said.
Deputy Police Chief Sam Arciola has worked to help Train facilitate removal of the boat. “This is unlike your normal boat,. It’s a cement sailing vessel, which is large and much heavier than other vessels,” Arciola said.
Despite the barriers to removal, Train said he expects the boat to be gone by the end of the month and is taking away every item from the boat in the intervening time to make it lighter. Some residents have been supportive while others have been less so, Trian said.
“People that are supportive look at me like I’m a victim of mother nature and circumstances, and the people who are negative look at it like I interrupted their narrative of a picture-perfect Westport," Train said.
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