Thursday, October 31, 2013

Flasback: Unedited: Interview with Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller

This last week I had a chance to sit down with Newport Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller and ask him a few questions. Harbor Resources is structured under the city’s Public Works Department and is tasked to manage everything on the waterside of our harbors bulkheads. This includes piers, dredging, pump out stations, city codes, complaints, permits pertaining to our harbor and much more.
Chris Miller grew up in Newport Beach and as a child sailed sabots in The Balboa Yacht Clubs junior program. “One of my fondest memories as a 5th grader was sailing my sabot up to the fun zone, getting some Pizza at “Pizza Pete’s” and playing skee ball for most of the afternoon” Chris told me.  He attended Carden Hall for grade school and then went to Newport Harbor High School, Arizona State University and Chapmans. Along the way he worked in the city’s youth employment services, the city’s parking lots then latter returned back to the harbor and was hired as our Harbor Supervisor and worked under his mentor Tom Rossmiller. Chris has now been our Harbors Manager over the last three years. During this time his three most memorable projects have been the completion of  last years dredging of the Rhine Channel, mooring fields realignment and the  refurbished Public Docks. “ I truly enjoy working with the public on projects, I get to met people like Carter Ford who put in a tremendous amount of time into the public docks making sure they came out as well as they did” Chris told me.

Up coming projects for 2012 is dredging the lower bay, aliening the mooring fields, new pump out stations and one of my “Silly Ideas” made it through all the red tape and there will be a Marine Recycling in the Basin Marina, very similar to Dana Points, before the end of the year.
There are two other people that work in Harbor Resources. Shannon Levin now serves as Harbor Supervisor and Lisa Walters. The list of tasks, these three are assigned with, would fill my column for the next two months. From my observations, over the last 5 years, have seen their task list grow and staff size shrink. Yea, I know there is a joke there, but these three are doing a fantastic job. I just get the feeling the whole Harbor Resources department is changed with the times is very approachable and accessible to the public.

For example lets just say some boat with the name of “Queen”, in my opinion, was exceeding the speed limit through the Sabot C3 fleet in front of the Lido Isle Yacht last summer. I placed a call into the Harbor Resources department and the very next day that boat had slowed down some and changed their route. Now these types of calls should go to Harbor Sheriff Department but the point I am trying to make is there are other options. So, if there is a boat that is being loud late at night and you can make out its name or description call the Harbor Department first and if the noise still has your hair up the next day you can always call the Harbor Resources department.
While I had Chris I wanted to ask him the difference between the Harbor Commission and The Tidelands Management Committee. Both are government bodies that focus on the Harbor and Chris and his staff attend both meetings. “The Harbor Commission works on obtaining feedback, advice for the City Council regarding on how the harbor should work, look and function” Chris explained. While The Tideland Management Committee is a sub committee of the City Council  and they control the budget. “That’s not to say that the council is ignoring the Harbor Commission” Chris quickly explained. For what it’s worth, from my seat, the Harbor Commission does need to feel some love for the City Council if they truly want quality feedback. Remember my silly idea did come from the Harbor Commission.
Last question for Chris was what can the public do for the Harbor Resource department?
“ Get involved, please attend the Harbor Commission meetings and please try to be patient with us this year during the lower bay dredging. This is a big project and we have not done this in awhile’ Chris said.
As a seat of my pants sailor, from what I can tell Chris Miller has a steady hand on the tiller and drives a straight course.

Sea ya

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