After what seemed to be a quick and easy installation process, comprising about eight days of work by a Cross Sound Shipyard crew, the town’s new dinghy dock is now officially open for public use. Installation of the dock was completed on July 25. It will accommodate about 100 dinghies that are 12 feet and under in length.
The dock, christened by New Shoreham officials with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, July 27, is located between Payne’s Dock and Dead Eye Dick’s restaurant at New Harbor. The floating L-shaped dock was built and installed with LED lights and an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant gangway that delivers boaters to the sidewalk on Ocean Avenue. The Town Council unanimously approved the dinghy dock project at its Feb. 9, 2018 meeting.
The dock was funded, constructed and installed by the Wronowski family, who proposed the project, and who is leasing their riparian water rights to the town for a dollar per year for a 20-year term. The Wronowski family, who owns the Cross Sound Ferry, will disassemble the dock for winter storage at its shipyard in New London, Conn.
During the christening ceremony, Jessica Wronowski, owner of Dead Eye Dick’s cut the blue colored ribbon while it was being held by First Warden Ken Lacoste, Second Warden André Boudreau and Town Councilor Martha Ball. Town Manager Ed Roberge hosted the ceremony, and Harbormaster Steve Land was also in attendance.
After the ceremony, Town Councilor Sven Risom sent an email message to town officials noting his appreciation for town staff who helped with the construction and installation of the dock. “Congrats to all who made this happen,” wrote Risom. “It’s a big step in the right direction.”
Risom noted that when he set the swim course for the Committee for the Great Salt Pond’s one-mile swim race on Saturday, July 28, he saw two young boys departing the dock in their dinghy after fishing. “I heard one of them say, ‘This is awesome. What a cool place. Wait until we tell mom and dad.’ Risom added: “It’s a winner for sure.”
Lacoste told The Times that the dock “is a state-of-the-art, well-built facility, which will augment access from the Great Salt Pond by boaters. We hope it’s appreciated by its users, and that the public and private partnership that made it possible can continue indefinitely. Congratulations to the Wronowski family, the Town Manager, the Harbormaster and last, but not least, Cross Sound Shipyard for getting it done in a timely fashion.”
Boudreau said, “This project shows that we not only highly value the boating community and their economic impact on our economy, but we also value being that place they dream of returning to all year long. That makes us proud. The new dock illustrates that when business and government work together with common goals nothing is impossible.”
Ball said, “Thanks to Jessica Wronowski and her family for proposing and constructing a dinghy dock that is a utilitarian, code compliant, much needed, and a visually pleasing addition to the New Harbor, and to Town Manager Ed Roberge and Harbormaster Steve Land for shepherding the project through the regulatory process. Sometimes the main job of the Council is to say, ‘Yes,’ and then get out of the way. It is, in more ways than one, a shining example of what can be accomplished when everyone stays focused on a common goal.”
Councilor Chris Willi said, “I’m happy and thankful that Jessica Wronowski and her family proposed the dock. It’s a much needed addition to the harbor and a step in the right direction.”
Roberge said he “couldn’t be more pleased with the creative thinking and community based support needed to make this project a reality — in what one would consider a relatively short period of time. This was a big issue last year so Steve Land and Jessica Wronowski began discussions in late 2017 on a possible solution. We are quite pleased that those discussions led to a lasting solution with the construction of the town’s first public dinghy dock.”
“A special thanks to the Wronowski family for their continued support and generosity towards this community,” said Roberge. “Special recognition should go to Steve Land and the Harbors Committee for their committed efforts to find a creative solution for better and safer harbor management. This is a community-based project where all can enjoy the convenience of safe and accessible boat storage while visiting Block Island. And all are welcome.”
Roberge noted that, “Rules of use will be clearly outlined in signage at the dock with directions to public restrooms and a dumpster for boat refuse only. The dock is strictly for vessels 12 feet and under, which are dinghies, no overnight use, and no derelict boat storage. The Harbors Department will strictly enforce the rules.”
As for the possible construction of a harbors facility with showers, etc. in the vicinity of the new dock, Roberge said, “This is a difficult question to answer, given that the town does not own land near the new public dinghy dock. Our attention has been focused on the Ball O’Brien Park site, and we will keep the discussions going with respect to facility needs and requirements through the Harbor Management Plan process. We need to begin a future planning process to accomplish those goals. Stay tuned on this one.”