Cove controversy: boaters speak out against Wings Cove pier

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MARION – Spirits heated at a planning council meeting on September 20 when several residents expressed concern about a jetty under construction at Wings Cove.

Residents have been talking about the pier since it began construction in August, saying the structure would hamper the ability of boaters to navigate from the creek’s boat launch to Buzzards Bay.

While plans for the jetty and an adjoining floating dock were approved at a planning board meeting last March, frequent users of the creek believe the board was misled by a project engineer .

“There was just one really big misrepresentation on the part of the engineer,” said Katherine Hoyt.

At that March meeting, Hoyt explained, an engineer said the pier would not jut any further into the creek than the other docks. She and other users of the cove say the pier would not only jut further into the cove, but also hamper navigation much more than any other dock in the cove.

As jetty owner Michael Vareika reduced the project by 30 feet after an initial wave of Facebook posts by jetty users last month, boaters at the September 20 meeting were looking for new changes for easier navigation.

Boaters claim that the pier at its currently intended length – jutting out about 50 feet into the cove – would cross part of a channel they say is vital for navigation in the cove. According to some boaters, several large rocks north of the cove make navigation out of the channel impossible.

“There is no way for me to cross this wharf as it was shown in the plan,” said Chris Madden, marine engineer and user of the cove. “I have lost two propellers in this area in the past four years.

Some city officials, however, don’t believe the pier will be a problem for boaters.

In a report by Harbor Master Isaac Perry released on September 20, he says the jetty would have little to no effect on navigation in the creek – echoing a recommendation he gave to the planning board before the project approval in March.

“Our results confirmed that our initial assessment was correct; “Read the harbor master’s report,” this project with reduced length will have little or no impact on navigation to and from the Wings Cove boat launch.

The report also claims that any canal that was once present in the cove has long ceased to exist, despite the credentials and confidence of boaters in such a waterway.

“I would also like to point out that this is a very shallow area, with a [mean low water] two feet deep, ”the report reads. “The uniform lower contours indicate that no previous channel exists any longer.”

Perry did not speak to the issue at the meeting, but board member Norm Hills echoed his report’s findings to boaters.

“In terms of saying there was a canal, maybe there was something in 1958,” Hills said. “But he’s not here anymore.”

Perry’s report also identifies six rocks in the creek, mapped on a satellite view of the creek. The map shows that there is about 80 feet of water between the pier and the nearest boulder, and about as much space between the other boulders further east in the cove.

A similar map created by surveyor and frequent user of the cove Robert Braman, however, indicates that there is a much higher volume of rocks preventing navigation in the cove. The map also shows the location of the creek’s controversial channel.

“I’ve seen boaters come and go for years and years,” said boater Peter McManmon. “And if you don’t squeeze the right side, there are boulders – whatever the harbor master’s technology is.”

As the comments got choppy and board members and residents started talking to each other, member Eileen Marum spoke up. She noted that the public hearing of the project in March had been announced as legally required and that all incidents had been notified.

But boaters at the meeting begged to defer.

“Respectfully, not all bumpers have been notified,” Hoyt said.

More residents began to intervene, noting comments they said had not been made aware of the March meeting.

Some noted that residents of Piney Point had not been notified, and a resident intervened on the meeting’s live chat: “64 Delano Road has not been notified. “

The meeting continued to unfold with some residents objecting when council attempted to move on with the discussion.

“We have an unprecedented amount of audiences [participants] on this meeting right now and you’ve given us five minutes, ”said Burke, referring to a flexible time limit that Marum placed on the discussion before it opened.

Hills and board member Jon Henry noted that the end of a regular board meeting was not the time for in-depth discussion on the matter.

“We can go further, but it has to be at a meeting scheduled for the discussion,” Hills said.

After further comments and arguments from boaters, Chris Madden agreed to formally submit a request for discussion at the October 4 Planning Council meeting.

“If we could come together it would be wonderful,” he said.

On the pier’s status so far, Hills said “they can do construction on the pier as long as it’s not in the water.”

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