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Liveaboard fees slated

Mid-harbor dwellers could pay $125/month.

More expensive than free, but cheaper than feared, the Harbor Commission’s first solid estimate of monthly rates for Eagle Harbor’s long-term anchored and moored boats won’t sink most.

But some liveaboards fume that any price is too much.

According to the Eagle Harbor Anchoring and Mooring Plan’s most recent update, long-term anchored vessels used as a residence would pay $40 a month.

Liveaboards tied to a city mooring buoy could pay a monthly $125. These costs include permitting, leasing and waste disposal.

Owners of long-term anchored vessels not used as a residence would likely pay $12 per month. That rate increases by almost $90 for long-term, non-residence vessels connected to a city buoy. Transient or short-term boaters using a city buoy or dock would be charged a daily 25 cents per foot.

“It sounds like an improvement on the original (rate) proposed,” Eagle Harbor liveaboard Amelia Sericova said. “But I’m paying nothing now, so anything is more than now.”

Earlier estimates by the commission peaked at a monthly $500 for long-term liveaboards.

Long considered part of the public trust, liveaboards have enjoyed the open waters of the harbor at no cost.

At least three liveaboards have pledged to pay no fees nor sign on to the city’s plan. They say the harbor has afforded them a low-cost, simple lifestyle that proposed regulations could destroy.

Harbor Commissioners included portions of the new draft they hope will make the plan more palatable to liveaboards.

The draft includes provisions for liveaboards to volunteer services to the city for reductions in monthly charges. The commission would also allow liveaboards one year to move within the confines of a new “open water marina” required by the state Department of Natural Resources.

Commissioners hoped to ease additional financial burdens by not including the city Harbor Master’s salary in monthly fees.

“Everybody on the island benefits from the city taking care of the harbor,” Commissioner Rob Jacques said. “If we are going to charge everybody who benefits from (the Harbor Master) looking out for garbage, pollution and helping boaters, then we need to charge everyone one-22,000th of the costs.”

The commission is still unclear how DNR, which has jurisdiction over the harbor’s open waters, will lease space to boaters. The commission plans to meet with DNR representatives and hammer out concrete details and clear up the definition of “encumbered.”

“They’ll charge for space encumbered by vessels,” Jacques said. “That could mean the boat’s entire area, or its length or the boat’s swing circle from anchor. But the definition of ‘encumbered’ depends on how you ask the question and who you talk to at DNR.”

The commission will host a forum on the draft plan on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Commons.

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