Tie It Up: Mooring Study Shows Everett Is Ripe to Become Boating Community

One benefit of the renewed waterfront is boating – and Everett has the potential to squeeze in about 50 moorings on the Malden River and bring new boating to the community to the community for the first time in generations.

The City commissioned a study on waterfront access and a potential mooring field from GEI Consultants this year, and the study just came in at the end of June – with good results.

A recent boat mooring study concluded that about 40 to 50 moorings could be placed successfully in a field off of the Gateway Mall in the Malden River. Fire Chief Tony Carli – also the City Harbormaster – said it is an exciting possibility and a rare opportunity

The study concluded – among many other things – that the City could get at least 40 moorings onto the Malden River off of Gateway Park for boats up to 25 feet long. Such a plan would bring boating access to Everett, and also bring in a source of revenue through mooring fees and excise taxes that would go directly back into improving and maintaining the waterfront.

Moorings are small ball-like equipment that are anchored to the river floor and hold a boat in place during boating season. They are removed in the winter. The moorings allow boat access via a shuttle service or using a dinghy boat and a dock. Such facilities are extremely popular in Boston Harbor, and it’s very rare that new facilities with close access open up to the public.

The study predicted the City could begin turning a profit on the bargain in about three to five years.

“Based on the assumptions noted…in this report, potentially 40 moorings for 25-foot-long vessels are feasible,” read the report. “This location and layout provide easy access to the locks, while maintaining the existing

channel along the western side of the river. The moorings are laid out such they wouldn’t impede on the channel and maintaining sufficient space between them to accommodate the variations in the swing radius and water level changes.”

Fire Chief Tony Carli – by charter – is the harbormaster for Everett. It’s not just a title though. Chief Carli was a member of the Coast Guard, is an avid boater and has his Captain’s License for up to 100 ton vessels. He said he was extremely excited to see the results of the mooring study.

He said there are marinas and yacht clubs further up the Mystic River in Somerville and Medford that are exclusive and popular and not in nearly as good a position as the Everett location. He expects any offering to be gobbled up very quickly.

“It’s an excellent location because you get through the locks and you’re in Boston Harbor and the Little Mystic,” he said. “I think we open up a lottery for the first 30 to 35 moorings. When that lottery opens up, we have all 35 taken and an endless waiting list. There are some cities and towns that have waiting lists 20 years long. I think the potential is incredible. We will never lack customers. We want to make sure it’s fair.”

Carli said he believes they can get 50 moorings in the field, and if they limit the size to smaller boats, probably even more. If things go successfully, there is also a way to double-up on the moorings.

One key is that with the size of the boats, there is no threat to having to lift the Alford Street Bridge to get these boats under the Bridge. He said at the size of 25 feet or below, most every boat would fit under the bridge without it having to be raised.

“The height of the Alford Street Bridge is always going to be a concern,” he said. “However, the size of these boats we’re looking at, we should be able to clear under the bridge at any height…We don’t want to come in and have the Alford Street Bridge opening up 50 or more times.”

Right now, it’s too late to get anything started for this boating season, but Carli said this allows them time to carefully plan for next year. They will need to decide on a fee, and Carli thinks they can increase the report’s suggested fee by about $5 to $10 per foot. They would also have to figure out how to manage it, and that would likely be farmed out to a professional service to administer for the City – paid for with the new mooring fees. The off-season would also provide ample time to start the permitting process and the waterways discussions. The mooring equipment would be paid for and provided by the boat owners.

The study indicated start-up costs of about $45,000 and annual revenues of up to $11,000. That would mean in year four or so, the City would be able to begin using the fees to pay for improvements to the waterfront.

“The overall revenue may not outweigh the costs of design, permitting

and management of the moorings themselves,” read the report. “Applications for permits, design and overall management may not enable the City to break even or make revenue for approximately 5 years, however, after that the City could net money and use the revenue to perform maintenance to the other potential access points along the river.”

Carli said they would be setting aside some of the moorings for public use, with an eye on people coming from out of the area by boat with Everett as the destination – a totally new concept.

“They could tie up here, take a dinghy to the dock and then they’re at the bike path and that’s a short walk to the casino, the Gateway Mall and beyond,” he said.

Overall, Carli said it is a very rare opportunity and a new access point for Everett residents and the Boston Harbor boating community. He said it was the vision of Mayor Carlo DeMaria almost 12 years ago when the mayor was first elected. Carli said he remembers being called in with the late Chief Butler to talk about boat access and moorings off the Gateway Mall. Carli said he was skeptical, but it was a dream of the mayor’s and they considered it.

Now, so many years later, it’s an exciting and real possibility.

“This is something the mayor has talked about for a long time and I was skeptical, but it is exciting to begin to think about it in real terms,” he said. “It’s not too often in Boston or Massachusetts that they start to create new areas of access. It’s kind of like what it’s been for 100 years and that’s it. This could be really exciting for the City.”

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