Sesuit Harbor West Side Parking Analysis

Over recent weeks we have spent a significant amount of time trying to finish off a few of the more intricate parts of the Sesuit Harbor Zoning Proposal.  One key element has been trying to look carefully at the west side town marina, its operations and its physical limits.

This week I sat down with the Harbormaster to discuss the on-the-ground operations. It was determined that, for the most part, the trailer based charter fishing operations operate out of the east side and are not in the mix of the slip based west side charter operations, the excursion boats and recreational craft using the west side.

On the west side what we do have is 133 boat slips used by recreational boaters, commercial fisherman and charter operations. In general, the commercial fisherman operate either during early morning hours, or in a manner during peak periods, that is similar to that of a recreational boater. Charter fishing vessels, on the other hand, have a parking demand that exceeds than of a recreational boater and needs special consideration.

First, we need to consider the  demands of the recreational boaters.

We need to be sure we have 0.3 spaces per slip for use by the boat owners during an average weekday peak period. There is a need for about 30% more spaces for the accessory uses, marina employees and guests of these slip owners. So, on an average weekday, we can expect that the recreational boaters (non-commercial) will occupy 0.39 parking spaces.

On an average Saturday, the peak demand for the recreational boaters is 0.35 parking spaces per slip, as more of the boat owners can get to their boats on Saturday than on Wednesday. Again, the accessory uses, guests and marina employees increase that demand by 30% bringing it to a need of 0.46 parking spaces per boat slip to accommodate the non-commercial uses during the peak hours of the day.

With 133 slips on the west side, on an average weekday there is a need for 52 parking spaces to support these slips during the peak period. On a Saturday, that increases to 62.

We presently have 15 possible (actual number of boat owners in slips with captain’s licenses) charter operators out of slips on the west side. Of these there are 8  “active” daily operators. On weekends, this figure may jump to 10 charters operating on any given weekend day. “Active” operators are charter operators who, in-season, generally take groups out daily.

Charters need conservatively 3 spaces needed per charter. If all 15 of these charters were full-time operators, we would need 45 parking spaces, of course, 15 of these would be the slip assigned spaces in the count above. This would leave us with a need for 30 parking spaces needed to accommodate full operation. As we discussed today, 8 of the 15 charters are “active”, meaning people who rely upon the charter business for a living. Thus 53%, or 16 spaces are needed on weekdays. On weekends about 2/3rds of these vessels are being used for charters. This means that on weekends the charters will need 20 spaces to meet current demand.

Thus, for the current west side uses, not counting the excursions, we need 68 parking spaces on weekdays and 82 parking spaces on weekends. Sesuit Marina only has 113 vehicle parking spaces. On weekdays, there are 45 available parking spaces beyond those required to meet the on-site needs. Saturdays, there are spaces 31 available.

We need to take into account the moorings as well. There are 46 moorings that need access from somewhere. If half of these are accessed from the west side, they will require between 7 and 9 spaces on weekdays; 8 and 11 on Saturdays. Mooring holders have the option of accessing their boats from either side depending upon parking availability.

This leaves about 36 parking spaces free on weekdays; and 13 on Saturdays. Weekdays there is adequate parking to accommodate the excursions with no real problem. Weekends could be tough. If there is any increase in the charter fleet, it will further aggravate a tight parking situation. To look at a reasonable number, perhaps the west side could accommodate up to 5 more charter operations. this would create a weekday need for 5 parking spaces and a weekend need for 7 parking spaces. In general, there would be a couple of free spaces in the equation.

If the accessory parking needs associated with recreational boating is not equal to the 30%, then there is probable a bit more wiggle room. I believe that the 30% to be a bit high as, this figure comes from national marina studies that include restaurants and retail spaces in their marina uses. Excursions such as the Lobster Roll fill that position at the town marina and its demand could figure into that 30% figure.

It would look like the west side could accommodate 20 slip based charter operations, or the present 15 with up to five licensed charter operators off of the commercial pier that would affect site parking before 2 pm on any day of the week.

One way or another, if charters are allowed access to parking, we have to limit the number to 20.

As I had noted in an earlier post, based upon a discussion with Town Counsel, we do not have to allow users of the pier to have the use of town parking. Our parking requirements under zoning is driven by the number of slips in the harbor.  The pier is a wildcard that is not included in the parking requirements for the site. Since no parking is required under zoning for the pier, operations off of the pier should not generate demands for long-term parking. If parking is not made available to the operators of charters that use the pier, we manage our parking constraints by limiting their ability to pick up passengers at Sesuit Harbor Marina.


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