A bid by the Viking Fleet to dock a day-fishing charter boat at the town commercial fishing docks at Gann Road in East Hampton appeared dead in the water at the end of an East Hampton Town Board discussion Tuesday.
During several recent talks about the request to base the 60-foot boat at the dock during the months of April, May, and June, board members hashed over a number of issues, ranging from whether there is adequate parking and other facilities at the dock to whether it should or must be reserved for use by commercial fishermen only, and, for that matter, whether a charter boat in the business of making money through taking people to catch fish could be considered a “commercial fishing” enterprise.
Last week, Brad Loewen, the president of the East Hampton Town Baymen’s Association, told the board that the dock was deeded to the town with a codicil that it be used only by commercial fishing boats. Town policy has been to offer the slips there at greatly reduced rates in order to help preserve the traditional fishing industry in the town.
However, John Jilnicki, the town attorney, said Tuesday that he had reviewed the original 1931 deed and that no covenants or restrictions exist.
There is, Councilman Sylvia Overby said, a 1985 town board resolution that sought to “clarify policies” regarding the dock and said that “boats which are engaged in commercial fishing on a year-round basis” have priority.
The Viking, she said, could dock its boat at a private marina on Three Mile Harbor “under normal business circumstances.”
“In terms of fairness, if the town board were to entertain this,” Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said, “. . . the rate schedule should be completely redone, and it should be opened up on a lottery basis, so everybody has a crack at it.”
And, he said, with only nine parking spaces in the lot, designed to accommodate fishermen’s vehicles and trailers, parking would be insufficient for daytrip passengers.
But the bottom line, Mr. Van Scoyoc said, is that with the slips already in use, there is 158 feet of dock space free, and 100 feet of that is supposed to be kept clear as an emergency slip — so the Viking boat is too big to add to the dock.
“I’d like to try to figure out a way to make it work,” Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said. Along with the fishing that occurs from commercial fishing boats, she said, the town should also seek to ensure the vitality of recreational fishing here, “for people who don’t have boats.”
“A, it fails the space test. B, it fails the parking test,” Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said. “So we’re not going anywhere with the Viking proposal?”
“We’ve talked ourselves out of it,” Councilman Dominick Stanzione said.