The Town Board has voted 3-2 to impose a mooring fee on Huntington boaters and made several other changes involving insurance requirements and the handling of wrecked vessels.
The $40 mooring fee had brought opposition from several boaters who worried that the fee would continue to climb and who disputed the need to charge law-abiding boaters for the costs of safety and other problems caused by abandoned or wrecked boats.
However, the town said the new law is necessary to “help prevent irresponsible boat ownership and irresponsible boating, placing liability for costs incurred by the Town in removing, storing and disposing unseaworthy/wrecked vessels on the owner or person responsible for the vessel; covering the costs of vessel wreck removal, pollution mitigation and remediation of other navigational safety hazards by establishing a nominal $40/season resident permit fee.”
Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci and Councilmen Edmund J. Smyth and Gene Cook voted for the law; It was opposed by Democrats Mark Cuthbertson and Joan Cergol, who said she wanted to wait until a full-time director had been appointed to run the maritime services department. After the firing of maritime director Ed Carr in March, deputy maritime director Dom Spada, who works part time, has been running the department.
Non-residents already pay a $200 mooring fee.
The town also wants to create a database of boaters in the harbor to make it easier to track down those who have abandoned boats in Huntington waters.
“As a waterfront community, our residents deserve to have our waterways, a precious natural resource, treated with proper respect for both the current and future generations. The Town spent over $50,000 last year removing derelict and abandoned boats in an effort to keep the harbor safe to navigate and protect our water quality,” Lupinacci said. “Taxpayers should not be on the hook for the consequences of irresponsible boat ownership.”
The new law also increases required insurance limits for vessel wreck removal and pollution mitigation; it also lowers the cost of transient commercial mooring permits for commercial entities leasing or owning land in the Town of Huntington, to help boost the Town’s maritime economy (lowering the fee from $200 to $40). Commercial baymen who operate in Huntington’s waters will be able to get their mooring permits at the same time as their commercial licenses are issued or renewed.