Harwich Selectmen Debate Boat Storage at Saquatucket Harbor

HARWICH – Harwich Selectmen heard from Harbormaster John Rendon at their meeting earlier this month regarding proposals to extend lease terms on private boat storage at Saquatucket Harbor.

Rendon approached selectmen for clarification as to whether or not his department was empowered to negotiate with all types of customers from storage businesses to private vessel owners.

“I’m looking for clear direction from the board on where we want to go, because the sentiment of town meeting was that we don’t want to go to a 10 year lease,” said Rendon, “I guess I’ve been under the understanding that we can continue to do boat storage as we have done in the past, prior to town meeting which is essentially the authority of the board to issue a lease up to three years.”

Rendon reported that following a bidding process the harbormaster’s office has already awarded a single one-year license allowing Allen Harbor Marine Service to store roughly 30 boats at the former Downey property on Route 28.

Selectmen at the meeting agreed that lease agreements should be limited to Harwich-based businesses and limit their dealings with individual owners.

Despite appeals from Allen Harbor owner Craig LeBlanc for longer lease terms, perhaps up to a decade, for the sake of stability and “security” selectmen remained unconvinced.

“The biggest thing from my perspective as a business is the security of as long of our relationship as I can get,” LeBlanc told selectmen, “Three years may seem long but we’re only talking about the half of each year and not knowing every three years if we’re going to have a place to store boats for the next year, and that decision might not get made until October, I think is when the bids go out. It’s a very hectic period where every 3 years we wonder if we’re going to get out bid and lose the Alan Harper storage lot.”

The board agreed to extend Allen Harbor Marine Services Lease for just an additional two years and to instruct Rendon to update the town’s harbor management plan to forbid allowing private boat owners to lease storage space from the town.

Revenue from these storage agreements is helping to fund the town’s multi-million dollar renovations to Squatucket Harbor, approved by town meeting voters in May.

The project is slated to include a new harbormaster’s office facility, a new snack bar, multiple rented artist shacks, the construction of a boardwalk, parking improvements, a new boat passenger ticket office, and improvements to the department’s maintenance building.

By DAVID BEATTY, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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