Council to vote on tougher rules for commerical Visitors Dock users

New Visitors Dock restrictions are on the horizon following last summer's incidents involving the Island Belle.
New Visitors Dock restrictions are on the horizon following last summer’s incidents involving the Island Belle.

NORWALK, Conn. – The Common Council will have a chance Tuesday night to clamp down on commercial vessels that want to use the City Visitors Dock for evening excursions.

The Common Council Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee voted Thursday night to recommend a new set of restrictions aimed at curtailing the kind of early-morning disturbances that occurred following two Island Belle events last summer, June 29 and Aug. 2.

In another incident, a man was arrested for bringing a loaded pistol on board.

In each case, police were called to the dock well after midnight. In the Aug. 2 incident, police were called in about 3:15 a.m. to break up fights. The following Monday, the Island Belle’s permit to use the dock was suspended.

Shortly after that, Mayor Harry Rilling announced plans to draft new regulations aimed at heading off the kind of late-night booze cruises that had led to the entire Norwalk on-duty police contingent being called to Veterans Park.

“This was in response to all the problems that we had,” Committee Chairman Jerry Petrini (R-District D) said. “So we decided to listen to everybody. We have a meeting with the police and the city’s attorneys to see what we could do so this doesn’t happen when these guys leave at 11 o’clock and come back at 4 o’clock in the morning. I mean it could happen – I’m not saying with a particular cruise operator – you know, we left it in here, if they’re going to be coming in here after 12 midnight it’s got to be come to the committee 30 days ahead of time so we can approve it.”

The regulations approved Thursday night include:

  • All cruise operators, or commercial vendors must fill out a facility usage form.
  • Under 99 passengers the permit can be approved by the Director, Recreation and Parks (along with the contract) 14 days prior to the cruise and/or use of the visitor’s docks.
  • Over 100 passengers the facility permit must be submitted 30 days prior to the event) to the Recreation and Parks Department and forwarded to the Recreation and Parks Committee which meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month.
  • All events must be completed before 2400 hours (12:00 Midnight) Special exception can be made and presented to the Recreation and Parks Committee for reasonable use after midnight.
  • No public ticket sales will be allowed in Veterans Park.
  • If additional staff is required due to late events when staff is not scheduled, the operator will pay for those additional hours at a cost of $20 per hour for each staff member and $25 for a supervisor to be present on the grounds.
  • For cruises over 100 passengers the Norwalk Police Department will determine if any officers need to be hired.

The regulations are expected to be discussed and voted on at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.



3 responses to “Council to vote on tougher rules for commerical Visitors Dock users”

  1. Oldtimer

    If this rule is passed, how will it be enforced ? Are there plans to turn away a boatload of passengers who have cars parked at Veterans park ? They need to require a substantial bond from likely violators and take major fines of $100 per passenger from that bond for each violation, counting each passenger as a separate violation.

  2. Just curious

    Old timer, my guess is there will be another do nothing task force created. I couldn’t agree more that these details should have been written in stone long before any commercial vessel was allowed to use the visitors dock.

  3. oldsalt

    Has the city repaired the docks? last time I checked that boat was too big for the dock. That’s what the Engineer contracted to study the situation said. The strain the vessel puts on everything is significantly more than the original design criteria. Are we still expected to believe no more than 40 people will be on the dock at any one time and wind speed during any part of the charter will not exceed 20 mph? The docks do not meet even the minimum loading safety requirements. Read the report!

    These guys are talking about a three strike enforcement policy. Seems like the big white boat already has four strikes. How many mulligans per month are we expected to allow?

    Rules for the harbor apply to everyone except the owner of the big white boat and Mr. Mocciae.

    What does the Harbormaster have to say?

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