NORWALK, Conn. – A company hoping to re-establish its commercial presence at the Norwalk Visitor’s Dock has been asked to move its Mississippi River-style stern-wheeler from its current mooring in the Norwalk River because it is blocking deliveries to a neighboring company, according to emails provided to NancyOnNorwalk.
The location of the Island Belle at the O&G Industries dock, located in the upper harbor not far from Wall Street, is blocking deliveries to Devine Brothers Inc. across the river at 38 Commerce St., according to emails from Devine forwarded by Harbor Master Mike Griffin to members of the Shellfish Commission, the Harbor Management Commission and city officials. Ken Hart of Sound Charter Group has been asked to move the boat, the emails say.
Hart and Sound Charter Group are involved in litigation with the city stemming from the damage done to the Veteran’s Park visitor’s dock and its pilings as Superstorm Sandy came in on Oct. 29, 2012. Hart left Norwalk in November 2012 but returned this January after leaving Stratford, and docked at O&G.
There was no indication of any movement in the lawsuit as of Thursday. The folder at Norwalk Housing Court had no new entries in it.
The emails sent from Griffin are dated Wednesday, March 26. They are forwards of emails received the day before from Tom Devine of Devine Brothers and Richard Warren of O&G, without any comment from Griffin.
Devine wrote at 12:15 p.m. March 25 to ask Griffin to immediately make the river open to Griffin for waterborne supplies. The email refers to a discussion with Griffin that morning. Devine wrote that he had subsequently contacted the companies that make deliveries to his dock to ask if their positions had changed. “Both companies reiterated their written position and expressed frustration with the situation,” Devine wrote.
The email from Warren is dated 3:15 p.m. March 25. It refers to a March 18 email regarding the use of the O&G bulkhead by the Island Belle.
Warren wrote that he had asked Hart to find another spot to dock the Island Belle, but that Hart had said the boat had been winterized and could not be moved before April 1. Hart had since promised to have the boat ready to move “in the next few days,” Warren wrote.
“He has also made several inquiries and is actively pursuing alternate berth locations,” Warren wrote. “Until such time as the Island Belle is permanently relocated, Mr. Hart has again been in contact with the barge companies and is preparing to move his boat as needed to accommodate any waterborne material deliveries incoming to the Devine property.”
Warren said in the email that O&G had been willing to enter into an agreement with the Island Belle for the use of the bulkhead/dock.
“Our request to relocate the Island Belle is an accommodation on our part for the benefit of existing long term commercial use of the Norwalk Harbor including ourselves and the material suppliers with whom we also share a long term relationship.”
Devine has not returned phone calls from NancyOnNorwalk.
Hart has been attempting to arrange a deal with Norwalk officials so that he can again use the Veterans Park visitors dock to operate tours. Instead of being docked there permanently, he would need to stop briefly to pick up and discharge passengers, as the vessel exceeds the length permitted in a new permit for commercial use of the dock issued by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE).
Fees for commercial use of the dock were on the agenda at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting. Hart made an appearance, only to be rebuffed by Mayor Harry Rilling. Hart began a dissertation about his good intentions for a business deal with Norwalk, but Rilling cited the pending litigation and told him to stick to the agenda issue of fees for commercial vessels at the visitor’s dock.
Hart said he was hoping the city would reduce the $3-a-foot fee for the 130-foot Island Belle when it is having smaller events. The parking fees could be bumped up in those instances, he said.
Shellfish Commission Chairman Pete Johnson filed complaints with DEEP and the U.S. Coast Guard in January because the Island Belle rests on the bottom at low tide at the O&G dock. There has been no word on any action taken by DEEP or the Coast Guard.
The Island Belle was still docked at O&G Sunday evening.
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