During Thursday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, First Selectman Peter Tesei commented on an issue that has garnered a lot of attention: the Steamboat Rd pier.
Tesei said that over the years, the pier has been referred to as both a landing and a dock, and that several entities within the Town have been collaborating to research the history of the piece of infrastructure.
On June 7 the Selectmen received a letter from the Indian Harbor Yacht Club expressing concern about the condition of the pier, which they say is not regularly monitored by police, though the public accesses it at all different hours.
The yacht club’s letter, which included photos, noted that while there have been safety notices posted, and a safety barrier erected at the southeast corner of the pier, “It has not deterred the curious or discouraged the daring from climbing over, around or through.”
The yacht club’s letter urged a “prompt remedy of the unsafe waterfront condition.”
The letter went on to say, “We are mindful that that there are diverse opinions about the use or disposition of the unsafe pier, and we offer to join in discussions on the issue, and stand ready to assist in any way.”
Mr. Tesei said that following the letter, there were discussions, which he described as “fruitful in some respects.”
Mr. Tesei said that even prior to the letter, the town moved forward with an engineering study that this year resulted in a request for funds to repair the pier.
The request is for $600,000 which made it past the BET. The ultimate decision will rest with the RTM.
Mr. Tesei said the issue of repairing the pier was less controversial than the activity on it.
Many have complained about fish smells, fishermen cutting fish and bloodying the pier surface, leaving bones and fish heads on the pier or throwing fish heads in the water, and creating unsafe situation by casting rods while people are walking on the small pier.
Others have pointed out that a fishing ban would require enforcement to be effective.
Then again, people have been fishing on the pier for decades.
There is an ordinance in the Greenwich’s municipal code that limits swimming and fishing in areas under the control of Parks & Rec, but the pier falls under the auspices of the Dept of Public Works.
Tesei said the vast majority of people see the pier as a valuable asset they would like repaired as it that affords a great view on Long Island Sound.
But, he noted, whether or not to ban fishing from the pier is a separate issue and there is disagreement in the community on the issue.
To ban fishing on the pier would require a new ordinance, which the Board Selectmen can propose, but ultimately the decision would be in the hands of the RTM.
Mr. Toner asked whether the condition of the pier is a liability to the Town.
“If it’s such a hazard, the town can shut it down and not have anyone on it until it is restored. As we’re fixing it, we can address the issue of use,” Tesei said, noting that the RTM might not want to okay the funds to repair the pier until the issue of use is resolved.
“I’m sharing this to get it out in the public,” Tesei said.
The First Selectman said he had questions about the pier, which he recently visited, including the origin of holes in the pier, questions about parking, and questions about trash receptacles that don’t belong to the town. “There are a whole bevvy of issues,” he said.
“Police say they have had no major incidents there in the last several years,” Tesei said.
History of the Steamboat Road Pier
“It’s important for everyone to know that, yes it’s referred to as a pier, but if you go back to historical documents, it’s referred to as ‘South Greenwich Avenue’ or the ‘South Greenwich Avenue Dock,” Tesei said, adding that over time “Steamboat” emerged as a title to that area.
“We know that in a 1944 letter from the then Commissioner of Public Works – Joseph Cone – he was dealing with many of the same concerns we’re dealing with today about activity around that area,” Tesei said.
He said that back in 1944, when the pier was referred to as “the dock” or “The Town Dock at the end of Steamboat Road,” and the town was seeking funds to for repairs, that members of the public also had opinions about its use, especially its use for fishing.