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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT
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Greenwich Harbormaster Wants Clean, Clear Coast

GREENWICH, Conn. – The key to making Greenwich's coastline healthier and safer to navigate is to clear out built-up silt through a process called "dredging," said Ian Macmillan, who has been the harbor master for a mere eight weeks.

“It seems neglectful not to address it and get on with the show,” said Macmillan. “If you want to take your kids out to take them fishing, wouldn’t if be nice to get back? If there’s no water under the dock because of lack of dredge then you’ve got your lives at risk, forget about having a bad day of fishing. That’s the sort of urgency that’s behind my motivations.”

Greenwich Harbor has not been dredged for over 43 years. In January, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers began sampling silt that, Macmillan said, is clogging Greenwich Harbor. The samples will determine how clean the silt is and what it would take to remove it. The corps estimated two years ago that dredging the 1.4-mile long harbor would cost upwards of $12 million. Macmillan is hoping to create a private fund for the project.

The town was not in compliance with state and federal law and was, therefore, low on the list of Connecticut towns to receive state and federal aid for a dredging, Macmillan said.

Over the last 35 years, Macmillan has seen small dredging projects that were not effective because they did not tackle entire shoreline. he said.

“As the state appointed harbormaster my jurisdiction is at the high water mark and seaward. [The town] doesn’t control that, I do,” said Macmillan. “If they’re not going to be compliant with state and federal law then they lose their local control and it defaults to a harbor master. Without a harbor management plan, it’s up to his discretion what he does.”

Macmillan says the town can control his budget, but he can impact theirs by not permitting them to charge fees. “They can go to court, but my lawyers are the state attorneys general of Connecticut,” said Macmillan. To speed up the dredging process, the town needs to create a special commission to create a plan for the harbor.

“It will not only give me a charge to fulfill, but that will at least give them the beginnings of a local control of their own waters that is also compliant with state and federal law," he said.

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