Boating long has been an integral part of the Ocean State’s economy, as are the boatyards needed to help service the recreational segment of the marine-trades industry.
But a lack of available coastal land and often restrictive environmental regulations can make operating and expanding those facilities a challenge, as Bristol Marine owner Andy Tyska has found during an eight-year odyssey trying to improve the property he bought in 1998.
“Boatyards are often passed down from generation to generation, and they are very costly to upgrade,” said Tyska. “The boatyard here is part of the fabric of Bristol’s waterfront heritage. It’s a valuable part of the community, and it’s worth investing in the infrastructure.”
Tyska, who is past president of the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, which has offices at Bristol Marine, has invested thousands of dollars in plans for his expansion. The property’s septic system has failed, and he’s willing to pay the expenses to connect to the sewer line, but needs local and state approvals to make that happen.
“Our facility … is the only commercial waterfront access for our industry in Bristol,” said Tyska. “We are the gateway to the marine trades in Bristol. There are more than 30 marine-related businesses in town that have utilized our facility.”
But getting sewer service to his property is difficult due to its waterfront location.
“Bristol is almost entirely sewered, except for the area we’re in, on the west side of the harbor,” said Tyska.
“There’s no easy way to get sewer to his property,” concurred Bristol Community Development Director Diane Williamson. “It’s in a residential zone and his use requires a special-use permit. We’ve been talking with him in fits and starts for several years.”
Bristol Marine’s master plan for expansion proposes connecting to town sewer along a route through Colt State Park. The plan includes increasing docking facilities from the current 21 slips by expanding, not on waterfront land, but out into the harbor, with 18 additional slips. The master plan also includes improvements to a shed used for workshop space.
Challenging environmental regulations have made it difficult for other boatyard owners to survive, says Don Vivenzio, manager of Point Judith Marina and Belle Vue Yachting Center in South Kingstown. Vivenzio owned Point Judith Marina until he sold it in 1993.