On Ashlar Pond: Neighbors hope to see barge go


Much to the delight of his neighbors, the owner of a pile-driver barge moored for more than a year in the waterfront community of Pinehurst said he will move the barge within a week.

Charles Wayne Barton, owner of Tidewater Marine Construction, said he was surprised by the attention his barge, moored in Ashlar Pond, has received in Pasadena.

"But I understand the community's concern," he said.

The barge, about 20 feet wide by 30 feet long, sits quietly in the center of Ashlar Pond, surrounded by marsh grasses and trees.

"The blue heron don't seem to be bothered by it," said Susan Thomas, whose home is on Ashlar Pond, "but then again, I've never seen the birds land on it either."

Brian Brooks, secretary of the Pinehurst on the Bay Community Association, has been working to have the barge moved since April, when he first spoke to Department of Natural Resources officials.

"The state said they can park it where the last job was until they need it again. 'If you sit tight,' they said, 'it will probably disappear this summer,' " Mr. Brooks explained.

Mr. Brooks said the barge was moved out of Ashlar Pond once during summer, but was back not long after.

Last month, he wrote a letter to Bob Orme, project manager for DNR, explaining the situation. He sent copies to Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno and state Dels. Joan Cadden, W. Ray Huff and Charles "Stokes" Kolodziejski.

Mr. Barton, who has not moved the barge because he has been "really, really busy," said it would take a week to move the equipment to a commercial marina and work on a small leak in its bottom.

Mr. Brooks said he'll be glad to see the barge moved, but added the greater problem is that "there aren't any regulations on these things," he said.

State regulations say the barge can stay as long as it is not "abandoned" or sitting in a trafficked waterway.

"It cannot be left illegally or without permission on public property for more than 30 days," explained Bob Gaudette, director of waterway improvement for the state Department of Natural Resources. "It cannot be left on private property for more than 180 days without [the property owner's] permission. It cannot be found adrift or unattended in state waters and be run-down to the point of being an obstruction. And it can't be a health or environmental hazard."

Regardless of regulations, or county and state officials, Pinehurst residents have their own opinion of the barge.

"It's ugly," said Ms. Thomas, who has a perfect view of the barge from her office window. "It's jarring to the landscape."

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