2012 December - What Would Shackleton Do?

We are all passionate about boating. I take solace in knowing that I can retreat to my boat at a moment’s notice. It’s comforting and reassuring to know that I can hop in the car and be aboard – and underway – in a matter of minutes. We have had our sloop moored in Black Rock Harbor for many years and, likewise, have her hauled and serviced at Captain’s Cove Seaport, a mere 500 yards from her berth. I am not sure what I would do if I were told that my comfort level was going to change because “the Cove” would be shutting down. I suppose I would want answers.

Boat owners in Stamford, CT are grappling with a real estate development company called Building & Land Technology (BLT) over just such an issue. BLT owns several parcels of land on Stamford Harbor that are in varying stages of development. Where once stood a full service marina is now a cleared lot, sitting in limbo awaiting development. Whether this will be a new office park or a refurbished marina remains to be seen, but BLT has their vision for the site and the some of the local boating community and residents have another.

With other projects of this magnitude, both parties rarely see eye to eye and, some sort of compromise is usually reached that satisfies the needs of all involved. So, what’s wrong with compromise? On the water, give and take is often the name of the game. Weather, other vessels, tactical decisions – and fate – sometimes come into play, demanding that we find a “middle ground” to reach our destination or cross the finish line with success.

As far as Stamford’s municipal permitting goes…who knows? There are applications, deadlines and approvals by various agencies, and regardless of who is polled, these permits and applications are in varying stages of completeness or accuracy. In order for Stamford to have a working waterfront again – one that the city can be proud of, that serves boaters and BLT’s long-term development interests and recreates the Stamford boating community that was – the time for adversarial fusillades is over. Unless BLT and the Stamford boating community stop barricading each other out, there will be little or no real progress by the start…and finish…of this boating season.

So, what is compromise in this situation? For Stamford boaters, it might be willingness to accept a smaller or bifurcated marina with amenities that are equivalent to the old one. For BLT, such a compromise could be the amendment of their original plans based on feedback from the community.

Sailing a boat, keeping calm, cool and collected is the best way to stay safe, have an enjoyable journey or race and reach one’s destination. Likewise, discord and confusion seldom lead to success on the racecourse, underway or in the conference room. Perhaps both parties in this situation will consider the journey they’ve been on and what lies ahead - just as one would a sailboat race or passage – and find a mutually acceptable goal, then work together to attain it in an efficient, practical and expeditious manner.

Does Stamford need a working boatyard? Yes. Does Stamford’s boatyard have to be an exact facsimile of what used to exist? No. Can BLT work with the community to resolve any issues that remain? Yes. Does the process really have to take several years to complete? No.

What would Shackleton do? Forge ahead and make it happen! See you on the water.

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