Board weighs fee for Ho-Hum boaters
At a work session Monday night, the board discussed a list of proposals drafted by the Bellport waterfront management commission that included constructing an additional eight lockers at the beach and installing Mobi-Mats®, which allow ADA beach access. Mayor Ray Fell said the board would consider those mats as they begin to draft a budget for the beach next season.
One item on that list drew significant pushback from both board members and residents present at the work session. The commission is proposing charging a $100 fee for Ho-Hum dock stickers for residents and limiting those stickers to one per household.
This year, Fell said 58 stickers were given out gratis to residents, who were able to pick up as many stickers as they needed for boats in their name. “The slips over at Ho-hum are at a premium, so we’re keeping a record of who’s getting stickers,” Fell explained. “Some families are getting stickers for all their boats.”
Trustee Steve Mackin is one of those families, as he owns two boats. “My son and I both use our boats,” he said. “And the fee is a little excessive, in my opinion. This is a boating community and there’re a lot of people who would be directly affected by this. We would see some extreme backlash,” Mackin added.
Fell, who admitted to not using Ho-Hum much this summer, said he would be upset if he went over there and was unable to dock his boat due to a family with three boats docked there. Mackin said he’d feel the same way, but that most boaters are courteous enough to move.
Trustee Mike Ferrigno defended the proposal, noting that the ferry and concession stand at Ho-Hum beach are not moneymakers for the village. “Ho-Hum Beach operates at a loss,” Ferrigno explained. “The marina slip holders generate $212,000 in revenue a year and that’s used to offset the difference between what the ferry can make and what the concession can make. So, to my way of thinking, if the 150 slip holders are paying, then shouldn’t each individual who uses [Ho-Hum] pay something?” he asked, to village resident Eric Everitt, who vocalized his frustrations.
“I agree that people should pay something,” Everitt said. “But when there’s a major infrastructure repair, all the taxpayers are paying for the marina.” He argued that charging boaters $100 is unfair, due to how costly it is to keep a boat slip elsewhere. “I have to pay more money to keep my boat somewhere because I don’t have a slip [in the village],” he said.
Fell asked Everitt if he was on the waiting list — he said he is. “Well, then you’ll get it. Someday, you’ll get one,” Fell said, to which Everitt replied, “I don’t even know if I would take it.” Fell shot back. “Then take your name off of the list, because other people want it.”
Imposing the fee, Everitt insisted, would mean, “I get ripped off twice.” Fell disagreed. “You don’t get ripped off at all.”
Deputy mayor Joe Gagliano said that the board was trying to capture everything going on with boaters using Ho-Hum Beach to help residents enjoy the facility. “We want to afford an opportunity to residents, even if they’re not in the marina, to be able to use the facility over there as a priority,” he said. “But we haven’t come up with the formula yet.”
Gagliano added that the board should keep in mind the significance of boating as culture and recreation. “We held the taxes this year, we reduced the debt and increased the amenities and I think we have to try and be balanced and stay that course,” he said.
Village attorney Dave Moran tried to ease the tension by asking the dollar amount of the fee to be left out, since that $100 figure is not set in stone.
Both Mackin and Everitt agreed that the one-per-household limit would be the most difficult thing to wrap their heads around. “My kids are probably going to have a 13-foot Whaler when they’re 14 years old and I think they should be able to go over there,” he said. “People have multiple boats.”
Moran added that the change was just a proposal. “This is just an idea that came from the waterfront commission to this board. Whatever makes the agenda will be subject to a public hearing,” he said.
The next village board meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26 at 9 a.m. and the board is expected to set public hearings for September on the proposals and a draft of a code change to prohibit online advertising for bed-and-breakfasts outside of the business and commercial districts.
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