Northport officials have approved new fees for the village's public dock, a strategy designed to attract more boaters to the waterside community during the summer season.
Effective immediately, docking will no longer be free before 8 p.m. Boaters will be charged a flat fee of $20 when they dock between 5 and 10 p.m. From 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., they will be charged an overnight fee of $2 per foot of the boat's length, minus $20 if they paid the flat fee.
Trustee Ian Milligan, who proposed the new fee structure, said the new fees are meant to give people more time to visit the downtown during busy dinner hours, bolstering the economy, and to stop some boaters from docking all day.
Milligan, an avid boater, said boaters told him they didn't have enough time to visit the village before they would be charged a portion or all of the overnight fee.
"This is something they have wanted," he said.
The village board approved the new fee structure in a 4-0 vote on Tuesday.
Centerport resident Jackie Martin, who has been a boater for 22 years, said she supported the change and that people who used to visit Northport go less often.
"There wasn't a window of time for them to stay and enjoy the things Northport offers," she said. "I think it is worth a try and see how it works out."
Milligan said the old fees deterred boaters from visiting Northport's downtown, near the dock.
The dock had been free until 8 p.m. Last year, boaters were charged $1 per foot overnight; and since March they had been charged $2 per foot overnight. Boaters would sometimes leave their vessels docked all day, filling the area and blocking spots during the dinner hours. This left some boaters arriving about 7 p.m. without spots; and others who stayed past 8 p.m. charged overnight fees -- which could exceed the $20 flat fee -- even if they only stayed a few hours.
It will cost to dock earlier, but Milligan said he expects more people to come because they will worry less about finding a place to park and spend more time downtown, before the overnight fee takes effect.
Northport's dock is the only public dock in the Town of Huntington. All the town-run marinas charge annual slip fees. Northport's 403-foot dock is at the end of Main Street, near village parks; it has electrical access -- and it is within walking distance of downtown.
"This is a very unique place," Milligan said. "It is such a great destination for boaters . . . might as well have it used to the fullest potential."
Summer is a busy time in the village of about 7,500 residents. Several events attract residents and nonresidents, including the weekly farmers market, the Thursday concerts in July and August, and the Tuesday Family Fun Night in August. (The dock will no longer be free during the Thursday concerts, village officials said.)
Northport Mayor George Doll said he supports the new fees. "We've changed the dock fee schedule at other times, and there is always positive and negative stuff about it," Doll said. "This sounds like a good idea."
Milligan said he hopes to work with the village chamber to promote the fees in other boating communities, such as Port Jefferson and parts of Connecticut.
Village Chamber of Commerce president Debi Triola said it's a "nice additional piece to bring people to Northport."