Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

By Roger Gitlin – EYE ON DEL NORTE – December 14, 2021

A checkered past…A sad legacy of mismanagement, tenant disdain and poor leadership.

Thursday, Dec. 16 Harbor Commissioners meet in a Special Meeting at 10AM at the Harbor office to clarify, amend and hopefully delete some duplicative Ordinances which confuse and make little sense to those who transact business in the Harbor. Last week, some of the Commissioners were scatching their composite heads trying to figure out why Harbor dumpsters were off limits to dump rubbish and why some of the boat slips will soon be charged 20% more when the vessel exceeds 80% of the slip site.

As a followup to Tuesday’s Regular Meeting, the Public brought to Commissioners’ attention major discrepancies on the 2019/20 Harbor audit: An unexplained $600,000 allocation which nobody apparently wanted to talk about and a $97,000 fringe benefit package to a former Harbormaster. It turns out the $600K expenditure was part of a buyout of the then-privately held Bayside RV Park, with a few years remaining on its lease. Sadly, the Harbor RV Anchorage Park was expropriated from octogenarian and family-owned forty-year-built from-scratch owner Rachel Towe whose lease was left to expire and received zero money from the predatory Harbor Commission.

Lots of questions remain unanswered re: the $97K fringe benefit package for former Harbormaster Charlie Helms. The Public demands accountability for these public funds.

The question begs to be asked:

Why is the LANDLORD HARBOR Commission acquiring previously owned tenant properties? That practice is a clear conflict of interest and should be discontinued immediately.

Doesn’t seem quite fair.

The pathetic legacy the Harbor holds for its tenants is legend. The lack of any meaningful periodic dredging has hurt many tenants including Fashion Blacksmith and its ability to attract new larger vessel renovation projects.

Harbor president Brian Stone’s personal vendetta against some of the Harbor and RV Park tenants has been duly noted and sadly acknowledged.

Stone ‘s seven year tenure on the Commission has been fraught with a lack of transparency and unproductive initiated colleague bickering. Long-time former Harbor president and current Secretary/Commissioner Wes White has a similar reputation which mirrors Mr. Stone. Both of these two have long service on the Commission which translates into more knowledge of mismanagement. The Harbor Commission desperately needs new leadership, new direction and a commitment to be candid and upfront with constituents, tenants and residents of both Parks.

The new leadership team for 2022 hopefully will be:

Rick Shepherd, President

Harry Adams, Secretary

Harbor dredging should remain the top priority and the long overdue process of Permit acquisition should be underscored, prioritized and placed on the appropriate Agendas of ALL Oversight Federal and State agencies overseeing HARBOR management.

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