Selectmen Back Off From Marina Expansion Study
By: Mary Stanley
Sandwich Board of Selectmen voted Thursday night to say, “thanks but no thanks” to an offer from the Army Corps of Engineers to continue with a study to expand the marina.
Last week, the board considered an offer from the Army Corps to continue with the study of an expansion project that would add boat slips to the area and ultimately fuel economic development in the area. But the offer came with some strings attached; if the board decided to continue with the study, it would cost the town $215,000.
“The Corps has taken the study as far as they can and if we want to complete the study, we still need to come up with $215,000. I wouldn’t recommend spending a penny on the marina expansion when we have not addressed Town Beach erosion issues,” said Town Manager George H. Dunham.
“As much as I would love putting money into the marina, I don’t think we should. I would rather see us moving forward on beach erosion issues,” agreed Selectman Linell M. Grundman.
Nearly two decades ago the town approached the Army Corps about expanding the marina near the East Boat Basin. Part of this expansion would be on town-owned land, which is currently used as a parking lot.
According to Town Manager George H. Dunham, 10 years ago Town Meeting voted to take $200,000 out of the stabilization fund to pay for the study. In addition to that money, the town received a $53,000 federal grant to study if and how such a project could be done. Of that money, there is approximately $68,000 left in the account.
As part of the study, the town asked the Army Corps to answer several questions about an expansion project, including who would be responsible for funding it, who would derive revenues from any additional slips that were put in as a result of the expansion project and whether those slips would be commercial or recreational or a mix.
“We have never received an answer to any of those questions,” Mr. Dunham said.
“The purpose of the project was for the town to derive some benefit from expansion on town-owned land. And we still have no answer [as to whether we would],” said Chairman Frank Pannorfi.
The first portion of the study, which has already been completed, recommended adding 60 boat slips on 1.7 acres of land, with the majority of those slips designated as commercial.
“It defies logic, and there are diminishing returns. The Army Corps has been crafty about us incurring all of the costs. And I don’t see commercial enterprises coming in. I see this as a lost cause. I can’t see spending $215,000 to see us in the same black hole,” said Selectman John G. Kennan Jr.