HARRISVILLE - Long in need of dock repairs but short on funds, the Harrisville Harbor is in the process of securing grant money to contract an engineering study of its harbor, make quick repairs to its north and south docks, and eventually make comprehensive improvements to the rest of its docks.
The harbor commission and Harbormaster Steve Baksis met with Mayor John Dobis on Tuesday to discuss the city's role in the process and ask for support from the Harrisville City Council, which Dobis will consult in meeting on Oct. 8. Harbor Commissioner Neil Gehring said the commission submitted a state grant application for a $65,000 preliminary engineering study in July, which has already been approved at the state level and might be complete by late spring, but it withdrew from consideration for a much larger boating infrastructure program grant to repair the north dock and the main dock. He said the harbor would do best to wait until the engineering study is complete before committing to broader repair plans, and in the meantime, a $34,000 emergency grant to shore up the docking area could keep the harbor in working order.
"We agreed to put that (boating infrastructure program grant) off, but when we agreed to that, we explained our dilemma here with timing, because our docks are in bad shape, and that's when the state mentioned the fact that there is an opportunity for an emergency grant," he said.
Baksis hopes to secure a contractor to start at least some of the emergency repair work this fall, as one contractor told him winter weather could exacerbate the dock system's current condition.
"They indicated that their time of year to do this kind of work is in the fall. Come springtime, they get busy (with) installation of new docks, and if in fact we don't get it taken care of this fall, they think it will be after next July when they could next get to it," he said.
Mayor John Dobis commended Baksis, Gehring and the other harbor commissioners on their "high-level thought process, diplomacy, and other things" in making difficult decisions to keep the harbor open during a statewide economic downturn and pledged to maintain his commitment to keeping the harbor open, as he guessed the city council would do.
"This is a temporary house, a temporary quarters, that we want people to come in and enjoy," he said. "But this is our house, and we want to keep it that way, and we want to keep it open as long as we possibly can, and we want the economy to turn around."
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.