2013-10-31 / Around Town

Marina Plan Presented at ALN Forum

By Tom Shevlin

Residents concerned with the potential impact of a proposed marina off the northeast shore of Goat Island heard first-hand about the project from proponents during a special public forum on Wednesday evening, Oct. 30.

Hosted by the Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN), the meeting introduced community members to the project and to its developer, the Hyatt Regency on Goat Island.

As detailed in plans on file with both the city and state Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), the Hyatt has petitioned to construct a multi-component network of floating and fixed piers just north of the Goat Island causeway. The resulting structure would yield room for just over 20 new dock spaces and would require the city to relocate four existing moorings.

The project would also call for the inclusion of a dedicated water sport float, giving rise to fears that jet skis and other personal watercraft rentals would soon clutter The Point.

Other features of the plan include a wave attenuator to help lessen the chop through the area and a space for small craft tie-up.

Consideration was also given in the design, proponents say, to mitigate the impact of construction on potentially sensitive eelgrass and fish habitats.

Neighbors, including some members of the Point Association, which helped organize the meeting, have expressed concerns that the project would overwhelm the area and make for a more congested and dangerous boating and swimming environment.

Pointing to the popular but now decommissioned channel that runs under the center span of the causeway and the density of both large and smaller craft in the area, residents raised questions about the wisdom of adding yet another element to what has become an extremely dynamic portion of the harbor. The area is popular not only with mooring holders, but also with fishermen, swimmers, and boaters taking advantage of the nearby driftways.

However, according to representatives from the Hyatt, the project was not designed to disrupt the neighborhood, but rather to enhance it.

To the point of concern over the water-sports dock, a more detailed plan provided at the meeting emphasized that the area is not intended for jet skis, but rather more passive pursuits like kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.

City Council members are expected to weigh in on the proposal in the coming weeks, and several council representatives had already been briefed on the plan. Some had attended a similar presentation with members of the greater Goat Island community during a meeting at the Hyatt earlier this month.

Provided that the council finds no objection to the plan, the marina's ultimate fate will be left up to the full CRMC.

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