Thursday, December 26, 2013
As recently as September, there were 18 boats tied up to Goat Island in the Sampit River between Front Street and East Bay Park.
That number has been greatly reduced due to an enforcement effort approved by the property owner, Jerry Blackmon earlier this year.
Georgetown Police Chief Paul Gardner told City Council Thursday “no trespassing” signs were placed on the island Sept. 10, a requirement before any boat removal could take place.
Gardner said some of the abandoned boats were so badly damaged they were no longer seaworthy. Most had expired state registrations.
By Nov. 18, seven of the 18 boats had been removed voluntarily. A notice was placed on the remaining 11 vessels that if they were not removed by Jan. 6, they would be towed and the owner would receive a fine in the amount of $1,092.
As of last week, the number of boats had been reduced to seven and Gardner said he expects the number to drop to three or four after speaking with owners.
“We have done all of this without writing a single ticket,” Gardner said, adding tickets will be written after Jan. 6 for any violators.
While Gardner said he is pleased with the progress in cleaning up the island that has been made, he feels they have only “reshuffled the deck.” He said council needs to “be persistent in its efforts to establish a mooring field in the harbor.
A mooring field is an established area where boats can be tied rather than having to anchor. More boats can fit in a mooring field than can anchor in the same area.
“This does not mean we would need to develop Goat Island,” Gardner said.
The city is still moving ahead with discussions about what to do with the island.
Blackmon said he may donate 20 of the 30 acres if he likes what will be done with the property.
City Administrator Chris Carter said council will discuss proposed plans at its planning retreat on Jan. 24.
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