View of Mattapoisett Harbor looking southeast toward Mattapoisett Neck. Photo/BoatingLocal

Sippican Week reports on a proposal that would give town officials in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, greater control over the harbormaster position and, some fear, ultimately the waterfront.

Proponents say that they want to bring “professionalism” to the harbormaster position by making the harbormaster a town employee who can more easily be held accountable, while opponents argue that the current system of using part-time harbormasters works just fine and is more cost-effective. They also claim that hiring a full-time harbormaster, with benefits, would be too costly for taxpayers and could lead to higher harbor-access fees, making it harder for people to enjoy the local waters.

In the Sippican Week article, Mattapoisett selectmen tried to set the record straight on the matter, which will be considered at a Special Town Meeting on November 19. “Contrary to popular rumor around town, that article is not for the institution of a full-time harbormaster,” Selectmen Chair Jordan Collyer is quoted as saying, adding that the proposed changes do not reflect on the performance of current harbormaster Horace Field.

The harbormaster position currently falls under a state statute that makes it difficult for town officials to evaluate and discipline the harbormaster, added Town Administrator Mike Gagne. He said that before the issue could be entertained, however, the Selectmen, the town’s financial officers and others would have to discuss the costs of both options, including benefits, retirement, and health insurance.

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