By Josh Resnek
Fire Chief Anthony Carli revealed himself as the city’s harbormaster Monday night during questioning from councilors about the Alford Street Bridge and how it will be impacting the traffic situation when the casino opens at the end of June.
Chief Carli and Police Chief Steven Mazzie explained their dual role and discussed as well exactly who has the responsibility for monitoring the Alford Street Bridge and traffic in general, both on the water as well as atop the roadway.
“The fire chief is the harbormaster,” Carli told the Leader Herald, dispelling any rumors otherwise. “The city has a boat, a 25 foot Maritime, which is the property of the police department,” he added.
Carl said it is likely a police officer will be chosen by Mazzie as the official harbormaster, as the fire chief’s role is purely ornamental, in other words, in name only. He said the fire chief as harbormaster is a longtime unwritten tradition in the city.
Carl, a former member of the Coast Guard, said he is licensed to captain a 100 ton ship of the sea, and that he would be perfectly qualified to run the Maritime but that the duties involved were a police issue more than a fire department issue.
Also, the harbormaster is not paid a salary.
“Controlling roadway traffic as well as the traffic on the water is the job of the police department,” he said.
A great deal of discussion Monday night concerned the Alford Street Bridge going up and down, as it always has gone up and down, but that was before the coming of the 800 pound gorilla down the street – the Encore casino and hotel.
Councilor Wayne Matewsky warned his colleagues and the chiefs: “I could see this causing a big problem,” he said of the bridge going up and down during peak hours during the summer months when the casino/hotel is open.
“The regulations appear to be out of control,” Matewsky added.
Matewsky told of how he waited in traffic for 15 minutes earlier in the week when the bridge was open. He cautioned both chiefs to wonder about what happens if the bridge stays up that long when the casino opens.
Chief Carli said the Alford Street Bridge is manned full-time by a bridge tender. He said the bridge tender causes a line of boats to form before opening the bridge.
Mazzie said that the bridge is now fully operational and the roadway open after several years of engineering work completed on its span to make it right.
Matewsky’s question about how the open bridge is going to hold up traffic when boats are passing through from the yacht club on the Medford side of the Mystic River, and how this will be handled, was not answered.
Instead, the chiefs agreed: “Your concerns are our concerns.”
A meeting scheduled to be held with the Boston Harbormaster and a State Police official next week should shed a bit more light onto the problems with the bridge going up and down and holding up traffic, a mass of it – which is expected beginning at the end of June.