Al Verheyn, chairman of the Brunswick Redevelopment Authority, is asking valid questions about the city’s management of its wharf at Mary Ross Waterfront Park. Why, Verheyn is endeavoring to find out, is City Hall allowing two large vessels to dock there free?
The Peacemaker and Ocearch are the vessels in question. If Chairman Verheyn’s figures are correct — and they sound a little high at first glance — the city officialdom has let some $2.9 million in dock fees slip through the municipality’s coffers by allowing free dockage.
That’s quite a write-off for a municipality that could use every penny it can harvest from the taxpaying public these days. Drive around and it is not difficult to imagine where this uncollected revenue could have been spent or invested. If nothing else, a fresh coat of paint on many of the city’s streets and at its busy intersections would prove helpful to motorists, especially during downpours.
The mayor and other city commissioners are sure to have a valid reason or reasons for allowing the vessels to tie up at the city-managed dock at no charge. The very purpose of the two vessels in question might provide a clue.
The Peacemaker, 108-feet in length at the waterline, was purchased by the Twelve Tribes in 2000. The Twelve Tribes is a religious group. Information available on the internet says the vessel is used to travel to the group’s 50 communities throughout the world while providing its youth apprenticeship training in sailing, seamanship and navigation.
The Ocearch, 125 feet in length, is a nonprofit fishery research vessel, according to information available on the internet. Sharks are among the sea creatures personnel aboard the ship are studying.
How nice it would be for the owners of these vessels to work out a way to give back to a community that has shown them kindness. They are both unique. Focus on that if nothing else.
For the sake of taxpayers, this unexplained generosity ought to at least exclude the costs of utilities provided the two. City Hall can ill-afford to be that charitable.
City commissioners ought to be mindful, too, that dock repairs can exert a tremendous burden on lean budgets. Fees paid by those using the facility offset maintenance costs. Taxpayers should not be stuck with the bill.
Paying customers are always preferable for that very reason.