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Confusion may kill Onrust dock plan

Confusion may kill Onrust dock plan

A miscommunication has left the Onrust without a future home.

A miscommunication has left the Onrust without a future home.

The replica of the first decked ship built in North America was to spend its summers docked near the Stockade, the oldest historic district in the state.

But Zoning Officer Steven Strichman told Stockade residents Thursday that the plans to build a dock in the Stockade’s Riverside Park have been scuttled. The proposal had been controversial, with some neighborhood residents in favor and some against.

Strichman told the association that the city had dropped its plans because the Onrust was going to Scotia instead.

“We don’t have a match. We don’t have the Onrust,” he said. “It’s going to be in Scotia.”

The dock was to be built with a state grant that required matching funds from the city. The state had agreed to accept the presence of the Onrust in lieu of money.

But the news about the dock surprised Don Rittner, Onrust organizer and historian.

He said he had planned to do nothing more than bring the Onrust to Scotia for special events.

“There’s no agreement between us and Scotia,” he said. “Steve’s jumping the gun.”

Strichman cited a Daily Gazette story that described the plans for docks in Scotia. The plans included space for the Onrust. But Rittner said those plans never included the Onrust’s permanent presence.

“[The Scotia mayor] was just talking about how it would be nice to have the Onrust,” Rittner said. “I said of course we’d support special events.”

Strichman was startled to learn that Rittner still wanted a city dock. He said he has already told state officials that the city won’t need its grant — although he has not yet signed formal paperwork.

“I’ve told them we’re not doing it,” he said on Friday.

He added that even if the city keeps the grant, the dock will not be built in the Stockade.

“We’re not doing it in the Stockade, anyway,” he said. “There didn’t seem to be overwhelming support for this location.”

And without a location, he said, the project is over.

“I think the grant is dead. I can’t get another extension based on ‘no location at this time,’ ” he said.

City Council members said Strichman doesn’t have the authority to decide where the dock does — or doesn’t — go.

“We’ve been talking about putting it somewhere else, like Gateway Landing, in conjunction with the county,” Councilwoman Barbara Blanchard said. “Considering the politics of the situation, I think he should have talked to the council before doing anything.”

Councilman Thomas Della Sala agreed.

“I would always prefer people talk to the City Council before they make decisions,” he said. “I was still hoping we’d find a place to put it in the Stockade area, but not necessarily off Riverside Park.”

Both were surprised that Strichman had already told the state to cancel the grant, but neither was ready to give up. Both said the issue should be discussed at Tuesday’s council committees meeting.

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