A group of Nausauket residents, who rallied when they learned of efforts to have the city sanction a dock on Edgewater Drive, left City Hall Monday night smiling. As one of them said, they won the battle without having said as much as a single word. He was right.
They credited one of their neighbors, Oscar Shelton, for bringing the issue to their attention, which they speculate, would have otherwise sailed through the City Council. Earlier this year Ward 7 Councilman Charles “CJ” Donovan docketed a resolution leasing city land to the association and endorsing the dock that has been used by about six quahoggers for more than 30 years.
At Monday’s meeting Donovan said petitioners – the Edgewater Outboard Association – seeking the resolution, a step to having the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) authorize the dock, had withdrawn their request. He also said that he and Ward 9 Councilman Steven Merolla would work on legislation to ensure that in future similar situations neighbors would receive sufficient notice.
But now that the city won’t be looking for approval of the dock, there’s no guarantee that it will be removed.
“We’re going to let it lie,” Bill Baxter said Tuesday morning.
Up until this week, Baxter, who is a part-time quahogger living in Warwick, headed the association. He said he has stepped down and would be keeping his boat elsewhere, perhaps across the cove on the dock on Arnold’s Neck.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s sad. It was a positive thing that was turned negative,” Baxter said of efforts to have CRMC authorize the dock. He said what the association planned to do was improve the dock by replacing its decking and ensuring it was secure by driving pilings.
That message never really got across to those living on the cove.
Instead, they learned of the council resolution less than two days before it was scheduled to be heard. Shelton, who is the city personnel director, learned of it from the City Council docket. He alerted neighbors, suggesting that commercial trucks could be using the narrow and rutted Edgewater Drive at early morning hours and that there could be problems with the parking of cars and trucks belonging to quahoggers. He imagined that out-of-towners would be using the dock and that upwards of a dozen boats would use the facility.
Baxter reasoned the association was looking to protect the Edgewater area and that by sanctioning the dock, the city was ensuring it would be responsibly maintained. He said the group has already spent upwards of $10,000 on legal fees and a survey in efforts to gain the lease and gain CRMC authorization. Yet, the association had not filed an application with the CRMC by its deadline nor had terms of a lease been reached.
As of the Greenwich Bay Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) of 2008, the CRMC required all illegal docks to be removed. The exception was docks that had been in existence prior to 1980. But there was a condition; that the owners of these docks submit an application to legalize them by Jan. 22, 2009. No application was filed by the deadline.
Baxter said Shelton distorted how the dock would have been used and rallied a vocal group that effectively opposed the resolution. He said he felt he could have circulated a petition that would have favored the dock, but in the end decided not to do that.
“We were not going to build anything. We were trying to improve it,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the CRMC was made aware of the withdrawal of the resolution Tuesday. Asked whether CRMC would act to have the dock removed, she said in an e-mail, “We will be in communication with the City of Warwick to identify these parcels – to determine whether they are owned by the city or another entity or person – and investigate what’s authorized and what is not and go from there.”
“Typically in this sort of situation, we would work with the city on getting any unauthorized docks removed,” she added.
Mark Carruolo, chief of staff for the mayor, said yesterday that the status of the dock is unclear but that the city would be looking into the possibility of removing it.