At the upcoming Selectmen’s meeting on Monday, June 5th, the Board will be reviewing plans for new security cameras in and around the public areas of Manchester’s harbor. This effort, funded through a federal Homeland security grant, is a joint project of the US Coast Guard and the Massachusetts Harbormasters’ Association. The project aims to provide an on water monitoring system to help protect shipping and shore side assets, including launch ramps, bridges, public docks, etc. When complete, the Coast Guard will be able to monitor all the harbors from Salisbury down to Plymouth. Local public safety departments will have access to the video feeds from their own communities.
Harbormaster Bion Pike has been spearheading this project for Manchester. He was involved in a similar effort in Kittery, Maine where the cameras have been well received. (Live streaming allows boaters to monitor their boats during a storm!) The Harbor Advisory Committee has endorsed the project.
Five cameras are proposed for our harbor – one at the town boat ramp serving the ramp, the inner harbor and the railroad bridge, one at Reed Park looking out across area B and C, one at Manchester Marine looking up the channel, and two at Tuck’s Point with one looking back into the harbor and another looking seaward. None of the cameras will be monitoring private areas. Our local monitoring equipment will be under the jurisdiction of the Police Department and the Harbormaster.
A side benefit of the new security system is that the transmittal antenna, to be located on top of the Town’s water tank, can also be used to enhance our public safety and DPW communication systems. The Selectmen will be voting on the proposed new security system at their meeting on June 5th. The public is invited to attend to learn more about the proposal.
Also at next Monday’s meeting the Selectmen will be voting on the new water and sewer rates for FY18 (begins July 1, 2017). For sewer rates, an increase of 3.5% is proposed. The additional funds are needed to help pay for the improvements we continue to make on the collection system and the treatment plant. For water, an expanded tiered rate structure is being proposed. The purpose of the new tiers is to provide a greater financial incentive for larger water users to scale back on the use of potable water. Many of our larger users are using drinking water to irrigate lawns and gardens. By coupling higher rates to higher consumption volumes we hope to provide an incentive to these users to be more mindful of their irrigation practices. Ideally large irrigators will make changes to their systems, for example installing drip irrigation systems instead of air born systems, planting more drought resistant plants, and switching over to well water for irrigation purposes. The new tiers are just one element of what will be an expanded effort to foster greater conservation of our drinking water.
Finally, the Selectmen will be awarding a contract for the first phase of harbor dredging at Monday’s meeting as well. The bidding process yielded a favorable result for the Town with the cost of dredging areas B and C coming in under budget. Once a contract is awarded, the Town will be finalizing plans with the contractor and determining the actual dates the dredging will begin in the fall. Mooring holders in the impacted areas will be notified of the dates and given instructions as to the temporary removal of their moorings.