Pursuant to a directive of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Saltaire, an appointed committee investigated the Village’s options in replacing the East and West docks. The decision to replace the docks is as per the recommendation of H2M Engineers, the Village’s engineering consultant for more than a decade, and was received by the Board on September 17, 1999. A copy of the directive is attached as enclosure l; the H2M report is attached as enclosure 2.
1. The docks are constructed of:
2. The decking, sheeting and walers have been irregularly repaired, replaced and supplemented over the years. In engineering terms, they are at the end of their useful lives.
3. The joists and girders are of varied sizes and strengths. Currently, they can safely support pedestrian traffic and vehicles of 8600 lbs. (the village requirement) due to certain short term and ongoing repairs and maintenance. However the village must have a dock system that is serviceable for the long term, and is perceived as being so. The H2M report is somewhat unclear as to the actual load bearing requirements of the dock. Must both docks be built to support l00 lbs. live load plus the required 8600 lbs. for vehicles? Given that the vehicular load is spread to four points, what is the maximum load requirement of any one spot? To what extent does good engineering practice require that the dock’s weight-bearing capacity exceed the Village’s realistic requirements? These questions must be answered in order to prevent over-engineering and to contain costs.
4. Some pilings although sound, have settled to heights that impede their load-bearing function.
5. The sand is leaching out of the docks, having in some places dropped by three feet, thereby adversely affecting the docks’ lateral strength.
6. The entire structure is acceptable for continued short-term use dependent upon ongoing inspections, repairs and maintenance.
B. Members of the committee visually inspected the docks on several occasions. We found the engineer’s report concerning the condition of the docks, insofar as it could be determined, to be credible. The committee includes no marine engineers or architects. Our report accepts but cannot verify the engineer’s position that the docks must be replaced before their structural integrity is lost.
C. The East dock now carries almost all traffic and most of the Village’s recreational use. These include passenger and freight ferries, water taxi stops, camp swim meets and secondary access to the bay beach, fishing, and the foot traffic for more than half of the boats moored in the marina. It is overused and crowded.
D. The marina suffers from shoaling caused by several factors: cross currents running through the dock sluiceways; sand drawn by powerboats entering the marina too quickly (especially ferries); sand carried in on the wakes of passing boats, sand leaching out of the interior of the existing docks. No one has ranked these causes as to their various degrees of responsibility for the shoaling problem.
E. Over the past decade there has been a growth in the number of residents seeking slip space for their boats. Today there are between 10 and l5 residents whose requests for dock space cannot be satisfied.
F. In recent years, FINS and other regulatory bodies have increased their efforts to reduce vehicular traffic on the beach. It is considered a strong possibility that regulations might someday be imposed limiting or terminating the Village’s current practice of trucking out its trash and garbage. Thus, the new docks might become a shipment point for Village refuse.
G. The passenger ferries currently serving Saltaire are longer than earlier models; they now range up to 85’. This greater length prevents ferry crews from tying stern lines to the dock, thus requiring the ferry to continue running its engine in the marina, disturbing the recreational boats docked on the west dock, and perhaps adding to the shoal problem.
H. Water taxis and transient boats dropping and collecting passengers at the Saltaire dock have no easy access by which the passengers can step up or down between dock and boat. This inconvenience is a safety concern.
I. Boat traffic in the marina can become congested at times. That problem is compounded by the arrival and departure of the ferry, which often enters and leaves the marina at too great a speed, keeps its engines running while docked and departs without giving the proper sound signals. The congestion and ferry practices constitute a reduction in safety, especially as it affects smaller boats.
J. The Village has a "permit" to replace the current docks if it does not alter the footprint. That option is faster and cheaper than any of the alternatives considered by the committee because it so steeply reduces the Village’s involvement with the federal and state permitting authorities.
OBJECTIVES IN CONSTRUCTING OUR NEW DOCKS
A. The new docks should address as many as possible of the conditions listed above. Thus, they should:
B. The reconstruction of the docks, with any attendant reconfiguration, is intended to have a thirty to forty-year life.
C. The structure should be built to the Village’s foreseeable needs over that time and adaptable to other credible prospects.
D. Per the Village’s grant application for this construction, the new docks should be set higher than the existing one in order to provide better flood protection. This, in turn, will require the installation of a step (fixed or floating) to enable debarking recreational boaters to reach the raised dock from their vessels.
E. The project’s engineering must be clarified and controlled in order to avoid overbuilding and wasted expenditure (see Conditions, A.3, above).
F. When solutions are in conflict, our considerations should be for safety, quality of life, and long term cost.
(See attached sketch for graphic presentation of some of the options listed below.)
A. The overburdened main dock could be relieved by widening the west dock and designating it as the freight dock. The advantage of this proposal is that it more evenly distributes the traffic on the two docks reducing congestion and the mix of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The resultant disadvantage is the "sprawl" effect of locating traffic (of one kind or another) at two places on the bayfront.
1. Moving the passenger ferry landing outside the marina to the exterior of the main dock. This would provide space for additional boat slips, improve traffic safety within the marina and reduce the ferry’s contribution to shoaling. Assuming that the existing footprint of the marina is used, this option enables the Village to build pursuant to the existing "permit" (see Condition J, above). The Fire Island Ferries Co. was consulted on this option and has expressed reservations related to the safety and convenience of docking in adverse weather; however, the company’s response was inconsistent, and merits further inquiry.
2. Redesigning the main dock to include a ferry slip entered from outside the marina. This proposal brings the same benefits as the prior one (increasing slips and traffic safety, and abating shoals). General disadvantages include increased construction and maintenance costs, possible difficulty in securing required permits, a weaker structure than the current solid block configuration, and lack of adaptability. The Ferry Company response was negative toward this option.
3. Continue docking the ferry where it now lands, using the same approximate configuration, but extend the landing portion of the dock by l0 – l5 feet. Advantages include shoal abatement, increased passenger safety and adaptability to the widest range of ferry designs. Disadvantages include a lost opportunity to increase the number of boat slips.
4. Modify Option B. l, above to include a wave attenuator anchored north of the East dock. It is theorized that the wave attenuator would protect the ferry against adverse weather conditions, increase its docking options (facing East or West), make the landing location adaptable to future developments in ferry design, reduce crowding within the marina, provide space for additional recreational slips and protect moored boats currently disturbed by the ferries’ maneuvering within the marina. Disadvantages include an added obstacle to navigation in the bay. (The wave attenuator would have the effect of extending the dock almost 35’ into the bay.)
C. Rebuilding the west dock presents the Village with several options that merit consideration.
2. Lengthen the West dock. This approach might secure additional boat slips in a way least offensive to the permitting agencies. Disadvantages might include a greater vulnerability to weather and tide due to the fact that the dock would project farther into the bay (also, see Options, E, below).
D. It has been proposed that the mouth of the marina be reduced to limit the shoaling effect of passing boats and perhaps to reduce the speed of incoming boat traffic. Again, it is unclear how much shoaling results from the size of the marina mouth. Thus, any expenditure on this option (when it stands alone) is in pursuit of an objective that has not been measured or valued. An additional benefit is thought to be increased protection against the infrequent, but very destructive, ice flows that sometimes occur in the bay. One significant disadvantage is increased difficulty presented to novice sailors entering and leaving the marina, especially in certain strong winds. Note that lengthening the ferry dock as described in Options, A. 3., above, entails reducing the opening by l0 – 15 feet.
E. The marina might be slightly expanded to accommodate some additional boating slips. The expansion could be effectuated as described in Option C.2., above, or by building the West dock at an angle that points it more to the northwest. This would require a more complex negotiation with permitting authorities and the likelihood of additional costs associated both with construction and the improvements intended to mitigate the effects of the expansion.
F. Wave damage to boats on the West dock could be reduced by the installation of a wave attenuating floating dock projecting 10’ (+/-) into the marina.
1(a) Plastic. H2M cites the availability of plastic decking and then dismisses it as costly and unproven. Plastic is being tried on an experimental basis in Fair Harbor and Davis Park; early reports from Fair Harbor are not promising.
1(b) Wood. H2M recommends treated wood decking but warns that the treating agent is considered harmful to bare skin. The proposed response to this concern is to reduce the amount of treating agent in the decking, thereby reducing its life expectancy. The degree of human exposure likely to cause harm is not stated; nor is the projected frequency and cost of deck replacement. Although, per H2M, wood appears to be the most likely choice for decking, this is a quality of life issue on which community sentiment is likely to express itself. Although using untreated wood decking is a possibility, the Village would have to accept the additional maintenance expense as a public health cost. (see also, Option F.4., above).
2(a) Plastic. As with the decking, H2M raises the possibility of plastic sheeting and then dismisses it as costly and unproven.
2(b) Steel. H2M indicates that steel is the strongest, longest lasting, least expensive long term sheeting material. H2M’s financial analysis assumes that alternatives (wood) must be replaced after l5 years although at other points in the report it asserts a 15 to 20 year life (a 33% swing) for wood sheeting; we note that Saltaire’s current wood dock, though diminished in its serviceability, has exceeded that life expectancy.
It is assumed that all the construction plans include dredging the marina and filling the dock with the dredged material.
4. Tropic Wood
The committee noted with curiosity that there are several tropic marine wood products now in use in other South Bay communities; the H2M report is silent on the practicality, cost and life expectancy of these interesting options.
5. Materials Costs/Quality of Life
5(a) Some portion of the dock cost will be paid by a grant on which the Village pays no interest or principal.
5(b) The H2M financial analysis assumes a 2% inflation rate and a 4% cost of funds, both of which are now incorrect. Thus, the financial analysis is called into doubt on several bases.
5(c) Under these conditions, we do not know the price we will be required to pay, the life of the capital improvement, the interest rate on the price or the proper amortization schedule. Without including calculations based upon these facts, there is no way to determine Saltaire’s true cost of the project.
5(d) As is appropriate for an engineer’s report, H2M offers no advice on the quality of life issues associated with a steel dock vs. the more traditional wood one. This will be a very lively topic in the Village.
H. The committee has looked cursorily at the possible use of floating docks (broadly defined) to achieve some objectives. These include: the step from recreational boats to the raised docks; as a replacement for the finger dock; as wave attenuator in option B.4, above; and perhaps a second finger dock if the interior of the marina is expanded in a way that allows extra slips. The cost of any of these schemes, including the presumable increased operating cost, is unknown.
I. The construction of a new dock is occasion to consider expansion or inclusion of amenities not available on our current docks. These include:
2. water spigots placed more frequently as a convenience to the boat owners.
3. access to electrical power for boat owners.
Options I2 and I3 entail risks to the quality of life of the Village and of additional operating cost. There are marinas where the ready availability of these utilities (I.2; I.3) converts the marina to a recreation site with people congregating on their moored boat to sleep over, perform repairs, cook, play radios, etc. Without an effective metering system, the cost of boaters’ electrical consumption would be a further burden to the Village.
A. The Village cannot proceed in this matter without consulting, and in most cases paying, marine architects, engineers and contractors in order to have more expert evaluation of the feasibility, worth and cost of the committee’s recommendations.
B. The Village should replace both the East and West docks.
C. The functions currently concentrated on the East dock should be divided between the two structures, with the freight ferry moved to the West dock. This would entail widening the West dock and ensuring its load-bearing capacity. It would also prepare the Village for compliance with additional regulations regarding the shipment of trash via boat, if such a regulation were imposed.
D. The passenger ferry docking location, whether in or out of the marina, should be at least the length of ferries now in use (up to 85’). See Options B.1; B.2; B.3; B.4; D.
E. In reconstructing the docks, the Village should attempt to add to the number of boat slips within the marina. See Options B.1; B.2; B.4; C.2; and E, above.
F. The reconstructed docks should include better access for passengers of recreational boats, water taxis and transient boats.
G. Every safety-conscious effort should be made to design the East dock so as to move the passenger ferry to the outside (North) of the East dock. See Options B.1 and B.4, above.
H. Wave attenuation within the marina should be among the objectives of the dock designers. A wave attenuation device should be attached to the West dock at the mouth of the marina; it should project into the marina approximately 10 feet.
I. In designing the docks, consideration should be given to raising their height to a level that facilitates evacuation during periods of abnormally high tide.
J. If the docks are reconfigured, or if the dimensions are changed significantly, the dock house should be scaled and placed so as to impose the least obstacle to passenger and freight traffic.
K. The reconstructed docks should include improved access to fresh water. The new structures should be wired for improved access to electrical power that can be metered, though the access panel to the power should be locked pending careful consideration of the impact of the facility on Village life.
L. The village should post and enforce its existing rules limiting the speed of boats – especially ferries -- entering and leaving the marina. Although there is no realistic hope of 100% compliance, this is a relatively low cost way to abate shoaling and to enhance boating safety near the marina.
M. The professionals selected by the Village should determine the cause of shoaling, whether any of the Recommendations herein can abate it significantly, and whether it merits the Village’s further attention and expenditure of funds.
N. All decisions regarding dock construction, amenities and materials should be made (in descending order) on the basis of safety, quality of life and long-term cost.
O. All these Recommendations and all final proposals made by the Village’s consultants should be subjected to scrutiny based upon sound, up-to-date financial analysis.