Town tests out seagull-proofing docks

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The new dock system on the Naples Causeway is getting a thumbs up from most people as long as there is room to moor their boat.

Some feathered friends favor the docks, too.

As resident Phillip “Buzz” Morton recently mentioned, “The docks look good and the seagulls like them a lot.”

According to Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak, town officials, along with representatives from Great Northern Docks, which installed the synthetic docks, have been trying to address any issues with the new setup that is barely a month old.

For the townspeople, one issue is warding off seagulls.

During the Naples Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, the board addressed the future expansion of the docks as well as how to deal with the bothersome birds.

“I have heard complaints about the seagulls,” Bob Caron II said.

“I am not sure if it is the gray color or the motion of the docks” that is attracting the gulls, he said. “I am not sure why the seagulls haven’t been there in the past,” Caron continued.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with kids feeding them French fries,” Chairman Jim Grattelo quipped.

Paraschak said, “We tried the banners to scare away the seagulls.”

Then, he went to a website which has a list of federally-recommended ways to deter seagull activity in a humanitarian manner.

The site said to tie a fishing line from one object to another. Once the gulls bump into it, they avoid that area. Paraschak said there was a fishing line tied between the two banners. He said the remedy seemed to be working. About 90 percent of the birds that flew into the line quit hanging out at the town docks, he said.

Since then, the docks have been pressure washed, he said. But keeping the docks free of seagulls has not been the only request from the public.

Selectman Caron said he talked to boaters about their experiences with the new marine infrastructure.

“They love the docks. The boats over 21 feet — the 21- to 24-footers — had problems getting in. The only place [for bigger boats] is the end,” Caron said.

“So, the town should create larger fingers on the outside for the larger boats that come from Sebago Lake, come from the marinas,” he said.

Chairman Grattelo said he agreed that mix of bigger fingers and smaller fingers on the dock would accommodate the different-sized boats. Grattelo suggested signage, saying larger fingers are reserved for bigger boats.

“The problem with putting up signs” is people won’t pay attention, Paraschak said. He said boaters have a tendency to go toward the outside first, where it is easier to park and moor a boat.

Caron said another consideration when expanding the docks is keeping it safe for the seaplane and other boaters.

“I have seen the seaplane go in. The further out you go, it could be an issue. You want to make sure there is a path for the commercial airplanes without making an issue for the boaters,” he said.

Paraschak said how busy the docks have been this summer.

“I was down there at 2 o’clock today and there was no room,” he said.

“This weekend, a couple people, when the dock was full, moored on the [helix] anchor with their boat,” he said.

Caron commented that the dock budget was passed on short notice at the town meeting this year, but the board has time to get their ducks in order before next Town Meeting.

“Moving forward, we should put together a plan. Put it on the warrant, talk about it with the public, get the pros and cons, and have a good plan for the docks for next town meeting,” Caron said.

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