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May 25, 2010 6:27 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Wilkinson concedes that dock sale is off the table

May 25, 2010 6:27 PM

A crowd of angry Montauk fishermen made chum of East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson at Town Hall Thursday night, after hearing reports that the supervisor was considering the sale of the two town-owned commercial docks in Montauk.

Mr. Wilkinson backpedaled on the plan Friday afternoon after learning that the sale of the docks would be a violation of the town’s waterfront revitalization plan, a document filed with New York state that sets guidelines for the use of the town’s docks, harbors and beaches.

The group of fishermen waited patiently through three hours of public hearings before pouncing on the supervisor when the board opened the floor to public comments.

Many of them said they were exhausted and were preparing leave the dock to go fishing the following morning at 3 a.m.

Captain Vincent Carillo Jr., who runs a trawler, reminded Mr. Wilkinson that, while campaigning last fall, the supervisor sat on a hatch on his boat, and while his deck hands repaired nets, vowed his support for Montauk fishermen. Mr. Wilkinson lives in Montauk and has long publicly said that he plans to do more to protect fishermen in town.

“We all said we’d vote for you,” said Mr. Carillo, who then pointed to the new historic Town Hall complex on the front lawn of the existing Town Hall, which is expected to cost $6.3 million. “This piece of crap out front is probably worth twice as much as the docks are worth.”

“If you remove the ability to dock our boats, you take our jobs away from us,” said Long Island Commercial Fishing Association executive director Bonnie Brady, the wife of commercial fisherman David Aripotch. “I know you all are in a desperate state ... but for the town to sell our beds we sleep in seems to me to not serve the purpose it should.”

Ms. Brady added that she believed the town’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan prohibits the sale of town assets that are vital to the fishing industry.

Mr. Wilkinson met with town attorneys Friday afternoon and was advised that the dock sale would be a violation of the LWRP.

“The docks were being reviewed with everything else on that list,” he said of a list of properties that the town is considering selling. “The fact that they are no longer in the review process doesn’t surprise me.”

Mr. Wilkinson said at Thursday’s meeting that, when he first mentioned the list of 22 properties that the town could sell at a work session on Tuesday, May 18, he made clear that he didn’t believe that the docks should disappear, but that they should be owned by a private business, not the town.

Fishermen said that they believed no private company would keep the rates low enough for commercial fishermen to be able to afford dockage.

The town currently charges $45 per foot, which Ms. Brady said was a rate that had tripled in the past nine years but was comparable to fees at most commercial docks. But marinas that cater to recreational fishermen charge two to three times that amount.

Mr. Wilkinson estimated that the commercial docks on West Lake Drive and Star Island had cost the town $1.2 million in the past 10 years, while only bringing in $55,000 per year in revenue.

“This isn’t a marina where someone in his mega yacht can pull up and order a Tab with lemon,” said Ms. Brady. “A lot of these guys have done work on the dock themselves.”

Ms. Brady added later that the town’s LWRP allows it to seek grant money to help pay for improvements to the commercial dock.

“Things pretty much suck for us. Fish are cheaper than they’ve been in 30 years,” said Captain Aripotch at the meeting Thursday. He added that his family might have to sell its house in Montauk because of the 35-percent increase in town taxes it has faced over the past two years.

“I’m gonna have a heart attack soon. ... I’d like to fish out my last days in Montauk,” he said.

“My father came to this town 30 years ago to go fishing,” said Independence Party chairwoman Elaine Jones, who was home baking zucchini bread when she heard the fracas on LTV and marched down to Town Hall. “We will go out and have a referendum. You can’t sell those docks. This is their heritage.”

“There is no pleasure in this task,” said Mr. Wilkinson, who added that any promises he made during the campaign were before he knew the true depth of the town’s financial woes.

“Someone burned through $40 million in the past six years,” he said. “We’re stuck.”

Mr. Wilkinson said that he hoped some people in the community would band together to purchase and preserve the docks, but Ms. Brady said that rumors were rampant on the dock in Montauk that a materials company from outside of Long Island would snap up the commercial docks, tear them out and use the site to bring rocks to East Hampton by barge, effectively shutting down the Montauk fishing industry.

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This is an example of politicians promises to get into office --AND THEN THE TIDE TURNS AND THEY ARE TRYING TO RUIN OUR WAY OF LIFE BY ELIMINATING THE FISHERMEN -- SHAME SHAME SHAME ON YOU MR. WILKISSION - -

IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING TO HELP THE TOWN - THEN GO BACK TO DISNEYLAND -- SINCERELY MICKEY MI9LLER
By pride of bonac (42), easthampton on May 21, 10 11:03 AM
1 member liked this comment
if it cost 1.2 mil over the last 10 yrs and only brings in 55k a year then something needs to be done. i commend Mr. Wilkinson for taking a stand and cutting expenses. as a taxpayer in this town, i do not want my tax dollars spent subsidizing the commercial fishing industry.
By fishy (90), East Hampton on May 21, 10 11:50 AM
I agree - the Town can't continue to subsidize this expense. I say sell / give the docks to the (genuine) commercial fishermen with deeded restrictions on future use/disposition. The Town should retain the permanent right to take back the property if the fishermen can't/won't adequately maintain it, even if thats 100 years from now.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on May 21, 10 12:05 PM
I assume the Town has an appraisal, or at least an idea of what they think the docks are worth if they are considering offering them for sale on the open market. The Board has thrown it out there - maybe the docks are an eligible CFP expense. (A refreshing concept if nothing else.) If so the fishermen need to form a group to negotiate a transfer, apply for the funding, organize a management body, and assume responsibility for maintenance and eligibility criteria for dockage there. Are such things ...more
By EH rez (2), East Hampton on May 21, 10 12:38 PM
We live in an area where houses are not homes, they are a commodity that is traded for profit by outsiders. If the CPF can be potentially used for Stony Brook's Southamtpton campus then it certainly you should be able to help keep propped up an industry that, if left to go away would change the fabric of our community forever, a fabric that no one who is trading houses for a profit cares about. It's up to us to preserve things we consider unique and welcomed in our area. Once it's gone, it's ...more
By HarborDad (37), Sag Harbor on May 21, 10 1:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
when all the local fishermen are gone we will be able to eat yummy farm-raised ,antibiotic filled fish from overseas.So -go vegetarian..oh no.... all the farms are growing houses, so we can buy pesticide laden fruit and veggies from overseas too...

By consciencepoint (16), Southampton on May 21, 10 2:28 PM
As I understand, very little of the fish they "catch" goes to local market. the vast majority of it goes right on trucks to fulton fish market. Maybe one of the commercial guys can enlighten us on how much of thier catch is actually sold locally?

By fishy (90), East Hampton on May 21, 10 2:55 PM
inlet seafood who unloads a most off the boats in the harbor not only sells the local fish to its own restarant but local seafood venders come to the docks while the boats are unloading to by fish from the boats so this statement is unfounded. ive been in the local industry for 28 yrs where do u get your info from? try again
By BDO-FF/EMT-MFD (4), montauk on May 26, 10 10:37 AM
I am happy to see that this board is showing is true colors, They are an evil of the worst kind.
By ehboardwatcher2010 (21), sag harbor on May 21, 10 3:18 PM
While not an exact count, several local fish markets do purchase locally landed seafood for resale either to local restaurants on the East End or at seafood shops.

Depending on the time of year, some catches are sent straight to Hunts Point (formerly Fulton) market because of the specific kind of catch, time of year and volume. Example, scup in the winter 1 period are 30,000 lbs one trip twice a month. There is no market in the winter locally for that kind of volume, so it would be sent ...more
By licfa (15), Montauk on May 21, 10 5:13 PM
The local market couldn't handle the volume of fish landed in Montauk & Shinnecock. The local economy can, however, handle the money that the fleets bring in.
By Draggerman (903), Southampton on May 22, 10 9:16 AM
ehboardwatcher2010 is another EH Consevator...just one more identified by the disdain in their comments. I watched the meetig last night on TV and the Conservator types appluaded loudly during the dark skies hearing in support of legislation that would cost local business people $30,000 and $40,000 to comply with. Then the Conservator types supported the businesses (commercial fishermen) who were attacking the board despite the fact those businesses are subsidized by the town at taxpayer expense ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on May 21, 10 5:13 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By pride of bonac (42), easthampton on May 21, 10 8:41 PM
I read in Newsday the Sup. withdrew the idea to sell the fishing docks because his lawyers said the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan prohibited it. The real question is how could he be so sure of himself and propose an action that causes so much anger and anxiety while not understanding the facts. It can only be the pinacle of arrogance.
But to give him his due it's not unreasonable to seek ways to save tax dollars by lowering subsidies. However one must consider what those subsidies return.
In ...more
By facts man (148), east hampton on May 22, 10 1:58 PM
Conservators out there should ask why when the Supervisor asked a senior Planner in the Planning Department to provide a list of properties that were owned by the town and were completely unencumbered and could be sold, as the Supervisor said he did in the various media accounts and at the meeting Thursday, he received a list from that Senior planner that contained two properties that were restricted from sale. You would think that a Senior Planner in the Planning Department would know if a town-owned ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on May 22, 10 2:34 PM
You should know that the planning board members only give the impression that they know their business . THE FACT IS - IT IS AN APPOINTED JOB- -- MOST OF THESE PEOPLE (NOT ALL) DON'T KNOW DIDILEY ABOUT PLANNING THROUGH EXPERIENCE OR EDUCATION - -- MORE DO THAN DON'T USE THE planning department for a "STEPPING STONE" to enter politics and they are appointed by friends and RELATIVES . ITS A FACT ---
By pride of bonac (42), easthampton on May 22, 10 2:51 PM
Pride...the information was not provided by the Planning Board or any of its appointed members, it was provided by a full time Senior Plannier making $50,000 per year to analyze and provide planning information, information on land, analysis of applications., etc. The 7 Planning Board members are not the Plannig Department, the two are separate things.
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on May 22, 10 4:16 PM
Ok -- - I must admit my mistake -- - I have been in overdrive about the issues and obviously seeing too much red concerning this fishing dock issue -- I must slow down -- and read slower and more carefully. - -"thanks"
By pride of bonac (42), easthampton on May 22, 10 8:46 PM
when the Supervisor...the Town's highest elected official and a self proclaimed "montauk local" doesnt know the difference between a marina and a commercial fishing dock....we are in big trouble.
By tm (174), mtk on May 23, 10 8:30 AM
I feel like I have become more an interpretor than a Consevator watcher and identifier......but I think if you ask many of the charter captains if their businesses are "commercial" -- especially those who have an allotment of bass tags and who go out on "off" days when no charter trips are scheduled and catch and pack out fish -- they will tell you they are as commercial as anyone and depend on the "commercial" aspect of their businesses to get by. Those charter boat captains are paying big bucks ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on May 23, 10 10:31 AM
New Bedford dockage is $10/ft because its all privately owned. There is no town owned commercial dockage.
By omghi (20), EH on May 23, 10 10:47 AM
According to this website, not exactly privately owned http://www.newbedford-ma.gov/PortofNewBedford/hdc/about.html

The Massachusetts General Court created the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission (HDC) in 1957. The chairman of the HDC is the Mayor of New Bedford, ex officio. The HDC has jurisdiction over all the waters in New Bedford, including the entire coastline of the peninsula, the harbor, and north along the Acushnet River to the city’s boundaries. The HDC manages city property ...more
By licfa (15), Montauk on May 23, 10 11:51 AM
Regardless of ownership, when you have boats stacked up 6 deep, there's no point in charging $45/ft. Its apples and oranges. NB has thousands of fishboats, Montauk has.... 10?
By omghi (20), EH on May 23, 10 1:32 PM
The Maidstone Gun Club leases land from the Town. A perfect union. Why not explore this idea with the fishermen? They can form a charter and for say a very smal fee they can lease the docks, however, they must maintain them. This way they can keep using the docks, but the maintanance does not cost the taxpayers, only the fishermen using them.

What are the other lands they are considering selling? I can imagine they can come up with land somewhere that will not have such a negative ...more
By Happy in Springs (12), Springs on May 23, 10 2:22 PM
First off I'm thankful to all the Montauk Fisherman/woman who made a stand !! To the ones who are against the Montauk commercial/ non commercial fishing community SHAME ON YOU!!! Do you actually know how hard these men and woman work?? Have you ever come home from work after 10 ,12 days at sea away from your family with every bone aching in your body??? Missing Christmas and your children's Birthday to feed this country quality food??? You know food with out pesticides that have now been linked ...more
By supportmtkfishing (1), montauk on May 24, 10 11:16 AM
for 28 yrs ive made my living on those docks damm they should make it a historic piece of land, its our heritage thanks to bonny and her research its off the chopping block,
By BDO-FF/EMT-MFD (4), montauk on May 26, 10 10:42 AM
'Backstabber' is a word hat comes to mind. If that dock goes private, those guys are out. Done and dusted.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on May 24, 10 3:57 PM
Lease the docks to the fishermen for a dollar a year in the lease they are responsible for the up keep of the dock. By the towns numbers it cost $120k a year to run. I bet you the guys can run those docks for a lot less. You can't let these guys fail some of them have been doing this for generations they are not even asking for a bail out like the banks and car companies just some help so they can help themselves.
By Enjoy LI (5), Mattituck on May 24, 10 4:34 PM
1 member liked this comment
Selling the town docks sort of gives new meaning to all those "Montauk...The End" bumper stickers! Doesn't the sign when you enter Montauk say "The Fishing Capital of the World"?!
By Harbor at Heart (12), East Hampton on May 24, 10 5:04 PM
I recommend selling the attached houses that are supposed to be the new Town Hall. Surely, a private entity exists somewhere who would pay for it.
By demi (10), East Hampton on May 24, 10 5:25 PM
If you are willing to prostitute the town docks, when will the beaches follow suit?
By nosib (5), southampton on May 24, 10 6:49 PM
The Town has long said that it needed industry to come to the Industrial Park in Wainscott. If a company were to approach the Town that could bring in the kind of revenue that Montauk fishing ALREADY does, the Town would jump at the chance to accomodate them. These people are trying to throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Respect what we already have! The issue is not wether the fish stay local--the income that fishing brings is spent locally and if it were to disappear the Town economy ...more
By Amer (5), East Hampton on May 24, 10 10:15 PM
I bet the huge net income from the Westhampton Technology Park will cover this...and more!
By Hambone (510), New York on May 24, 10 10:57 PM
Different Townships Hamhock
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on May 25, 10 3:30 PM
uhh it's sarcasm. I took the misguided leaders in one locale and projected it into another. Failed humor for sure, because if you have to explain it, it usually means the other person is addled.
By Hambone (510), New York on May 27, 10 9:00 AM
To start- huge credit to the citizens who came out and stood up for something important to them. I tip my hat to them. This is a community and each one of us is responsible for what happens in it.

Most of the comments are missing the two major other points. First, the Supervisor had to stick out his own neck and eat crow pie in the face of a mob of friends, supporters, and detractors alike. He had to stab himself, his friends, and his family in the heart to even consider such a strategy. ...more
By NWHarbor (7), Northwest on May 24, 10 11:24 PM
All you people who come out to East Hampton to enjoy the "rural character" of it are the very ones who insist on changing it - and for the worse. What is Montauk without it's fishermen? Jeez, it's always been the place to go for fishing. Selling the docks to outside investors? Look what is happening to Main Street East Hampton??? There's your outside investors...They have destroyed East Hampton Village - I guess they are trying to work themselves further east now. This town board is too quick ...more
By utahgirl1970 (8), East Hampton on May 25, 10 10:03 AM
If we sell all of our precious assets now, we will regret it when things get better financially and we have no tennis courts, no docks, no indoor hockey rink where many local kids play... but we will have plenty of open preserved space left that is conveniently bordering the backyards of the wealthy! Too bad we can't unload some of that. Or get rid of the new town hall- otherwise known as Adelaide deMenil's tax write-off!
By Harbor at Heart (12), East Hampton on May 25, 10 10:33 AM
Sloppy, very sloppy Bill!
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on May 25, 10 3:29 PM
The
Montauk Fisherman are wonderful and deserve thier say. If you know a fishing community then you know what a tight knit community that they are.
But it seems to me the people that are doing the most complaining are in need of the least help. When Bonnie Brady - Executive Director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association states “I know you all are in a desperate state ... but for the town to sell our beds we sleep in seems to me to not serve the purpose it should.” Quite Frankly ...more
By Old School Montaukette (10), Montauk on May 26, 10 3:09 PM
Does Old School Montaukette mean that you are part Montaukett Indian?
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on May 27, 10 12:15 AM
No doubt there are no fisherman who are Conservators. But Old School makes it sound like some have the means to be Conservators. If Old School is correct, then some of those who cried poverty at the public meeting should be ashamed of themselves. Is it true that some of those who complained actually OWN dock space that could accomodate their own boats and their partners but use public owned docks for less money so they can lease there space for more money and line their pockets? If that is true, ...more
By connwatcher (112), east hampton on May 26, 10 10:57 PM
In fairness a marina set up for seasonal recreational usage can not also accommodate commercial vessels at the same time. There is also a big difference in the layout of the recreational marinas compared to the Town Dock, for one you can't get your truck right up to the edge of the boat at the rec. marinas as you can at the Town Dock.
There is no maybe in the selling of the docks it is not allowed, more efficient management of them should be accomplished.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on May 27, 10 12:25 AM
The quote being referenced as to selling our beds was actually a quote at the meeting that described if the docks were sold, where the boats "sleep" would be sold, hence the analogy of the Town "selling our (the boats') beds. "

The Town's commercial docks are set up so that many boats of different sizes can be accomodated, based on first come first served basis- As far as I'm aware, there is no waiting list.

Commercial dock space via the town dock is median price for the Mid-Atlantic, ...more
By licfa (15), Montauk on May 27, 10 4:00 PM
c'mon guys, I can't look at that misspelled headline any more!
By justthefacts (9), East Hampton on May 28, 10 10:13 AM
Thanks. This has been fixed.
By BOReilly (135), 27east Web Editor on May 28, 10 11:09 AM