Originally published in The Weekly Packet, September 19, 2013
Motion to return hoist, take down crane gets no traction at recent Blue Hill selectmen’s meeting
by Faith DeAmbrose
With a very light agenda at their September 13 meeting, the Blue Hill Selectmen granted an abatement and signed the municipal valuation return (with the town valued at more than $600 million in property) before Selectman Jim Schatz revisited a conversation about the crane at the inner harbor wharf that began at the previous week’s regular meeting.
“I am going to lay out my reasoning first, in case I don’t get a second on the motion I am going to make,” said Schatz, before making a motion to return the recently purchased electric hoist and remove the crane at the inner harbor to be sold or stored for a later date. Schatz’s motion ultimately died for lack of second, but not before much discussion was given to the motion itself.
Before stating his motion, Schatz named a large number of grant applications and projects involving waterfront development that he has tackled during his almost two-decade tenure on the board. “I feel that I am ultimately supportive of harbor issues, even though this might seem like a deviation,” he said.
Schatz said he was concerned with liability, the functionality of such a device being used infrequently and in sometimes subpar weather conditions, the future maintenance costs, possible dredging and the impact it would have on the wharf itself.
Chairman John Bannister said that while he agreed with most everything Schatz said, he was not prepared to remove the crane. “I can’t really point out an area where you are wrong,” he said, “but this thing is 95-percent complete and we have so much invested in it that it would be a waste to remove it now. I might be in favor of [the motion] a year from today because I do believe it will only benefit a very small number of people…but, let’s see what happens.”
“The crane has been a bone of contention for the last two years and there will be unhappy people either way,” said Selectman Vaughn Leach. “But, the equipment is here. If we want to measure [the use] to see if it’s justified, we can do that…but, we can’t just let it sit there.”
During the meeting, the selectmen did not take any action on actually installing the recently purchased hoist, nor did they identify a funding stream to pay for it.
The selectmen next meet Friday, September 20, at 1:05 p.m. at the town hall.