A proposal to install new electric at the East Pier in Greenport has some tempers flaring.
At Monday's Greenport Village Board meeting, concerns were raised about a proposal to install electric upgrades at the East Pier at Mitchell Park Marina.
Greenport-based commercial fisherman Sidney Smith addressed the board and said the proposed projected cost of over $300,000 would be too high.
"You want to spend all this money to put electric down at the dock for the yachts," Smith said.
He added that when he ties up in Newport, Rhode Island, no such electric exists. "It all sounds nice but it's not realistic," he said. "That investment of money, you will never get it back in 15 years."
Smith also said he did not believe enough yachts would come to generate the profits necessary to warrant the expense. "Saying you'll get four mega yachts at the same time for 30 days? You'd be better off putting your money on the roulette table," he said.
Wealthy yacht owners, Smith continued, will come and leave quickly. "There's not enough here for them to do. You want to spend $300,000 for a couple of outlets -- when all these other things around the village need to be repaired?"
Greenport Village Mayor David Nyce said while he appreciated Smith's "insights" into the situation at Newport, Greenport Village Administrator Dave Abatelli, Mitchell Marina manager Jeff Goubeaud, Trustee David Murray and he had spent a great amount of time working on the issue closely and discussing Sag Harbor and the yachts that dock there.
"They have done revenue anticipation of one or two of those boats staying for the summer and our anticipation says that we will be able to pay back the cost in a short time," Nyce said.
"The Catch-22 with these mega yachts is that they bring in a great deal of money," Nyce said. Goubeaud, Nyce said, "has done his research. I'm comfortable we will realize a return on that investment."
"It's still the taxpayers' money," Smith said.
Nyce said the electric upgrade at the East Pier has been discussed for decades.
At the meeting, the board authorized borrowing up to $400,000 for the project. "Expenses are expected to be recouped over a short span of years by increased revenue from the larger boats for whom the service is provided," Nyce said.
The board voted unanimously but Trustee Mary Bess Phillips had some questions to ensure the $400,000 indebtedness cost would be paid by increased revenues. Phillips asked if line items would be created.
"Any monies that come in will go nowhere but into this electrical work," Nyce said.
Phillips said down the road she'd like to see a resolution clarifying line items, especially since the marina budget has been absorbed into the village's general fund.
"Shortfalls," Phillips said, would still need to be met out of taxpayers' pockets. "I'll be watching," she said.
"This project has been in discussion for a period of time," Phillips added after the meeting. "Mitchell Marina was created to be an economic generator for the village. In moving forward to create other revenue sources for the marina, there is a need for this type of service for these vessels. My concern is that the borrowing is re-paid and does not become a debt in limbo years from now."
What do you think about the Village of Greenport installing new electric at East Pier? Is it a sound investment? Share your thoughts in the comments section.