Gerry Island Proposal Draws Crowd of Opponents

Conservation Commission, questioning the use of the island as a boat yard, schedules another site visit Tuesday night.

The meeting Thursday night drew a crowd of about 80 local residents, the majority of whom came to oppose plans by Peter Noyes for Gerry Island off Little Harbor on Marblehead's northeast shoreline.

Much of the lengthy meeting was devoted to what Noyes plans to do on the island. He has asked for a permit to . To facilitate that construction work, he has also applied to build a 30-foot by 60-foot pad with three-inch thick gravel for unloading boats or trucks.

Commission chairman Walter Haug, recognizing that the proposed project is “high profile” in the community, grilled Noyes on his long-term plans for the island.

Noyes, who denied that he is purchasing the island from Ted Moore's Redstone Realty, said he plans to use the island to store and maintain his 12 boats and possibly others.

He said since the project has received extensive publicity, several people have approached him with ideas of how he might develop the small island. But he has not pursued any of the proposals.

“I have no desire to cover this island with boats,” Noyes said. “Absolutely I would not do that.”

A key to the project seems to be whether Noyes is allowed to use a rock and gravel causeway that links Gas House Beach to the island. At low tide cars and trucks can cross the naturally formed causeway.

Noyes, who maintains that the island owner has the right to use the causeway, told the commission that Town Engineer Becky Curran has asked for a legal opinion on whether the causeway can be used to transport construction equipment and service his boats.

“I have no intention of having a busy highway to the island,” Noyes said. He said the use of the causeway would be infrequent.

Commission member Fred Sullivan questioned his plans for a boat yard when the island in very large storms could be eight feet under water.

“I don't see how you can realistically use that as a boat yard,” Sullivan told Noyes. “I wouldn't want a boat yard over there.”

Opponents remain skeptical about Noyes' long-range plans.

Several members of the audience were skeptical of Noyes' plans for the island. They pointed to the application's lack of specifics as suggestive that he has bigger plans for the island.

Frank McElroy, an attorney, said it is “astounding that none of the (commission's) questions were answered.”

Opponents have formed a group, called Friends of Little Harbor, and hired their own engineer, Curt Young, to provide expert advice on Noyes' proposal.

Young also complained about the lack of specifics in the proposal. And he questioned why Noyes and his engineer, Peter Ogren with Hayes Engineering, were using a 1986 survey of the island, rather than a current survey.

Noyes and Ogren repeatedly said that they are asking at this point only to repair the seawalls to “stabilize the island.” Any other plans for the island would have to be approved by federal, state and local agencies, they said.

Haug, telling the audience at one point that “my heart is with you,” questioned the need to “stabilize” the island. “Stabilization of the island is not a correct description of what you are doing. It is a misstatement,” the chairman said.

At the opening of the hearing, Haug told the audience which spilled out of the basement hearing room at the Mary Alley municipal building, that the commission is limited to acting only on the proposal to repair and rebuild the seawalls. The commission cannot consider legal or aesthetic issues, but would rule on the proposal based on the rules governing wetlands, he said.

The entire island is considered a wetlands resource area.

'Will common sense ever prevail?'

Noyes, who noted that the project would have to be approved by multiple agencies, became frustrated with the criticism of the project and of himself personally. He asked, “Will common sense ever prevail in any of this?”

After the meeting Noyes, who owns the Rockmore Floating Restaurant and the Hannah Glover, was upset at a comment by Brian Moriarty, who asked the commission if it would consider Noyes' history of disregarding legal orders. Haug said the commission has no authority to consider an applicant's personal history.

Several commission members questioned how the landing pad would be built and whether several large boulders would have to be removed, which would have to be approved by the commission. They also questioned whether several seawalls existed.

To resolve differences over the seawalls and the landing pad, the commission scheduled a second site visit to the island at 5 p.m. on May 17.

Several commission members and Curt Young with the Friends of Little Harbor will make the site visit.

At the end of last night's hearing, Noyes proposed to install a temporary wooden float and gangway to facilitate access to the island until the causeway issue is resolved.

He called the float “a friendly gesture.” But opponents objected, saying the float might hurt the lobster beds nearby.

The commission postponed ruling on that issue until its next meeting on June 9.

John Q Marblehead May 13, 2011 at 10:18 AM
Come on.........This guy knowingly dumped sewage into our local waters for years...and they are even "considering" his current intentions? What about cleaning up his floating debris field in Salem harbor first!
atlantic123 May 13, 2011 at 01:32 PM
John Q., read the actual court documents. Noyes never dumped sewage. You are basing your thoughts on a bogus Salem News article that they had to retract and a lame press release that the government released in hopes to spread lies of all the things they wanted to get Noyes for but never had the proof. If any of their accusations were true, he'd have been charged. How do you think his floats will get cleaned up if he has no way to haul them and fix them up? Rec and Park arbitrarily took the right to haul away from him and this is the only other place he can haul out and do exactly what you want.
Frank L. McElroy May 13, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Nice try atlantic123 From the Office of the US Attorney General, Massachusetts: "February 8, 2010 BOSTON, MA - A company based in Marblehead pled guilty today in federal court to charges that it dumped raw sewage into North Shore waters from a popular ferry it operates out of Salem. Under the terms of a plea agreement, the company will pay a fine of $300,000 and publish apologies in regional newspapers. . . For many years crew members routinely utilized the ship’s sewage pump to discharge raw sewage directly overboard . . . either upon order of the master of the vessel, or upon observing the overflowing of the vessel’s public toilets. The discharges took place at various locations along the Massachusetts coast, including in Salem Harbor and off beaches in Marblehead and Beverly, as well as in the Charles River near the Esplanade. The discharges ranged in amount in the hundreds of gallons. The sewage discharged from the Hannah Glover included the waste generated by its passengers, as well as the sewage from the Rockmore, as the company’s employees routinely pumped the contents of the Rockmore’s sewage holding tank onto the Hannah Glover for disposal. During some summers, the company allowed the sewage holding tank aboard the Rockmore intermittently to overflow, such that raw, untreated sewage spilled into Salem Harbor." Is that part of the "lame release" you refer to? Why not let us know who you are? Your posts have little credibility in my view.
Sarah May 13, 2011 at 05:44 PM
I'd like to add, just in case anyone takes the nature of these admitted offenses lightly, that raw sewage can not only cause sickness, it can be deadly. More than one child swimming in our local waters )in the past ten years has been seriously poisoned by e.coli 0157. I know, mine was one of them, and we are lucky he is alive today.
Marshall Bauer May 13, 2011 at 10:54 PM
I am fascinated at Mr. Noyes plea for common sense. It seems to me that the objective attitude of the Conservation Commission in limiting its present examination of his "proposal" to the reconstruction of the seawall demonstrates exemplary common sense. As far as the opposition to his plan is concerned: what did he expect--a Welcome Mat extended from Fort Sewall?
Joey Johnson May 14, 2011 at 11:38 AM
atlantic123: You want us to believe that Noyes wants to rehab Gerry Island to store boats? No sane individual would make the investment for a business case to apply for lengthy permits, build a road and follow-on support facility for boat storage on an island that during winter and high winds and and area that is significantly impacted by Nor Easter's. And for a piece of property that is going to be leased? You got to be kidding... There is more than sufficient boat storage areas in and around the Salem Harbor , that if Peter Noyes really wanted to store his boats it would be a no-brainer rather than trying to rehab and restore Gerry Island.....we all know what is really going on here. Strongly recommend that you and the Commission Members take a close look at how the current Little Harbor Boat Storage is being operated and maintained, rusted out falling bulkhead, children's play area that is on the verge of collapsing into the harbor and the 2nd of two sailing mast's that has been at a 45 degree angle for over three-years with no repair. A TRUE GEM of Waterfront Property in Marblehead... But if your still a believer in Noyes and Company, I've got some great investment waterfront property that I'd really like to sell you in Arizona....can you dig it? NO MOORE NOYES ON GERRY ISLAND!
atlantic123 May 14, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Frank L. McElroy - you just proved my point, and as a lawyer I'd think you'd know better. You quoted a press release doing what I already explained it was meant to do, NOT the court documents. Noyes was NEVER charged and their are no names to the crew. In fact, it was a single employee who wrote one thing in a log book (a federally required document) and then testified to something completely different and Noyes was never able to face his accuser. Speaking of credibility, wasn't it you who worked for the Rockmore Company the summer before you went in direct competition with the Super Ranger charter boat? What an interesting coincidence and I'm sure what you learned vastly helped your own enterprise. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones...
atlantic123 May 14, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Sarah, no one is taking anything lightly, but you should know (and refer to the Marblehead's Board of Health webpage which will link you to this info) that the town doesn't even test for fecal coliforms in the ocean because they are at such a low rate due to dissipation in the ocean. The real concentration that is tested and quite alarming is found in swimming pools. Ones with many swimmers like at a local club pose a far greater risk, so I would watch the pools where you visit.
Frank L. McElroy May 14, 2011 at 01:34 PM
atlantic 123 come out of the closet. And nice try again. Peter W. Noyes is listed in the records of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as President, Treasurer, Secretary and sole Director of the Rockmore Company, Inc. And no, I never worked for Rockmore or on the Hannah Glover. I was an owner of East India Cruise Company Inc. which operated various boats out of Pickering Wharf and East Boston starting in 1993. If you're visiting Tarpon Springs, FL any time soon, let me know and I'll get you a comp ticket for one of our eco-cruises.
KlassySalem May 15, 2011 at 01:51 AM
Are you for real? "Our company has discharged human waste directly into coastal Massachusetts waters. For these actions, we have paid a steep fine and have pleaded guilty to criminal charges." Rockmore Company I'm happy to say that I wrote about this over a year ago, and I get numerous visitors every day who search for "Peter Noyes Marblehead" on Google. I feel like I need to write a new post now. http://keepitklassysalem.blogspot.com/2010/01/rockmore-company-and-owner-peter-noyes.html
Concerned Citizen May 16, 2011 at 06:53 PM
If you are actually interested in the content of the public record, here is an excerpt from the charging document -- the Information. But before looking at it consider that the Federal Prosecutor, standing in open court before Mr Noyes and before a Federal judge stated he could prove BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT the following allegations. say waht you want, but no Federal Prosecutor is going to stand before a Fedaral judge and not be honest about what they can prove or not. Here is what the government said at the guilty plea: "Paragraphs 1 through 15 of the Information, Your Honor, describe conduct that took place involving the discharges, routine discharges over a 20-year period. If the case proceeded to trial, the government would be prepared to prove all of those allegations beyond a reasonable doubt."
Concerned Citizen May 16, 2011 at 06:58 PM
para 10-13 of the Information says: 10. From in or about the Summer of 1990 though in or about September 2006, the installed sewage tanks aboard the Hannah Glover frequently overflowed. The cause of the overflowing stemmed from the defendant's unwillingness to pay for shore-side pump out services (e.g. a "honey wagon") and its irregular use of a discharge hose connected to the Salem municipal sewage system at the Congress Street dock in Salem. 11 In addition, the sewage holding tanks were not large enough to hold the sewage generated in the course of an average size dinner cruise, and commonly overflowed before the vessel returned to shore. 12. In response, the defendant, through its agents and employees, including masters, mates, and other crew members aboard the Hannah Glover, routinely utilized the ship's sewage pump to discharge raw sewage directly overboard within one nautical mile of the Massachusetts shoreline. . . . 13. The discharges took place at various locations along the Massachusetts coast, including in Salem Harbor and off beaches in Marblehead and Beverly, as well as in the Charles River near the Esplanade during July 4 celebrations in 2002. The discharges ranged in amount in the hundreds of gallons.
Frank L. McElroy May 16, 2011 at 07:01 PM
Thanks for the quotation Concerned Citizen. Maybe atlantic123 will emerge from anonymity now to excoriate you (and the rest of the world) for allowing yourself to be duped by a mere Assistant US Attorney in prosecution mode. Well, I agree with your assessment. Thanks again.
KlassySalem May 16, 2011 at 07:07 PM
I did write a new post chronicling these new developments. There was also an excellent point added by a reader in the comments section.
KlassySalem May 16, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Concerned Citizen May 16, 2011 at 07:19 PM
More from the guilty plea -- and I do note taht Rockmore agreed to plead guilty to only tow count and denied the rest. MR. MITCHELL: . . . Count 1 charges, the government would prove, that the evening of August 12, 2006 the HANNAH GLOVER was carrying passengers on a pleasure cruise along the North Shore along, near the towns of Marblehead and Beverly. It at all times remained within a mile of shore. And, of course, those areas are navigable waterways of the United States. When the sewage holding tanks filled up on that night, rather than discharging the sewage properly ashore, the captain of the vessel acting within the scope of his employment and for the benefit of the defendant corporation, at least in part, directed deckhands to open the overboard valve from the sewage holding tank and discharge some indeterminable amount of untreated human waste into the water. Similarly, with respect to Count 2, Your Honor, that was likewise a pleasure cruise in the same area, that is to say, within one mile of shore of the North Shore towns that I just mentioned. Again, the sewage tanks filled up and the same captain ordered that the tanks be discharged and did so again within the scope of his employment and motivated at least to benefit, in part to benefit the corporation. The deckhands opened the overboard valve and again an indeterminable amount of human waste was discharged into the local waters. The government would prove all of that beyond a reasonable doubt.
Concerned Citizen May 16, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Here Rockmore atty agrees to the two counts to which the company pleads guilty, and denies the larger pattern: [Rockmore atty]: Just so the record is clear, Your Honor, there are two specific charges to which the corporation is pleading guilty. And that is on two separate occasions -- THE COURT: I think that is -- [atty]: -- sewage was discharged. Your Honor, it is a strict liability crime. We accept the government's representations that the employee has told the government that it did that on those two days and, therefore, the corporation is liable. Mr. Mitchell made reference to other allegations in the Information. Just so that the record is clear, Your Honor, the company does not agree with those other allegations in the Information . . .
Sarah May 17, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Atlantic - the town regularly test for e.coli at all of the public swimming beaches, so you are spewing nonsense.
Susie Leahy May 18, 2011 at 01:30 PM
I agree with Joey Johnson...Mr. Noyes should look at other available sites to house his boats. Why doesnt he build a float off his own property on the Neck? Little Harbor is just that..."little" and does not need more development or congestion. Gerry Island is truly a gem and should be left alone. In my opinion, it would be ridiculous to have trucks and machinery drive across the causeway while the children are playing there...USE YOUR COMMON SENSE! Neighbor of Gerry Island


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