OUR WATERWAYS Sarasota “Informal Mooring Field” May Be Boater/Government Run By Harmon Heed Flyer from the Bayfront Harbor Community Association
fter many years of political wrangling, big business shenanigans, citizens’ groups meetings, hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money spent and/or tied up, thousands of hours of city staff time occupied, leases let, permits permitted and contract deals sealed years ago, the Sarasota Bay mooring field still does not have one mooring ball to tie up to. Nor does the city know when the mooring field will be completed or even if it will be completed or even if work will be started again. Near the end of the May 3 City Commission meeting, Commissioner Terry Turner made a motion that requested the city staff provide information regarding: 1. The cost benefit of moving forward on installation of the mooring field. 2. The cost benefit of abandoning the mooring field. 3. Explore an “informal mooring field” with the city and, perhaps, a volunteer/citizen group managing some of the problems of the anchorage. The motion passed unanimously.
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City Attorney Robert Fournier hoped the staff input and recommendations to the board would be available by one of the July commission meetings. They may be available by the July 19 meeting but probably won’t be presented until one of the August meetings. An “informal mooring field” would be much like what is in Sarasota Bay now and has been for years, with or without moorings. It would be under the jurisdiction of the city and comply with the new state law prohibiting local municipalities from restricting anchoring in state waters. The difference is that the anchorage would be co-managed for safety and security reasons by a citizens’ group much like a neighborhood association. It would not be a “boat (home) owners association,” wherein anchored boat owners would be required to join, pay dues and abide by CCRs, (covenants, conditions and restrictions). The association would have no legal enforcement authority. That would remain with the police department. In early June, boaters in the bay banded together and formed the Bayfront Harbor Community Association. They have held weekly meetings and elected Randy Morningstar president and Ken Delacy vice president. They filed papers with the city and were officially recognized as a Sarasota City Community Association. As such, the association will be eligible for city grants. City officials Mayor Kelly Kirschner, Commissioner Terry Turner and Marine Patrol Officer Ken Goebals have attended Bayfront Harbor meetings. The dialogue has been positive and productive. In the meantime—and in the foreseeable future—much www.southwindsmagazine.com