By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
Some are straddled over mud puddles, most have leaky hoses and splintered wood planks, but all of them are plagued with pesky seagulls clamoring for food, leaving feces and feathers.
The condition of the Crescent City Harbor fish-cleaning stations is so poor the Del Norte County Department of Health declared them unsafe and inappropriate for use.
"The letter said it would be illegal for commercial fishermen to use and for sports fishermen to use them and give fish away to people not knowing how they were cleaned is inappropriate. I think it's a serious matter," said Harbor Commissioner Mario Deiro to his fellow boardmembers at the Harbor's Tuesday night meeting.
As a result of the letter, the Harbor Commission is rolling on a plan to replace the cleaning stations and enclose them with wire fencing and a roof.
The idea did meet some preliminary opposition with some harbor commissioners, however, because the harbor is scheduled to receive grant funds to replace the stations and some public restrooms.
Those funds won't arrive, however, for another year or so.
"Maybe we could just put a sign up saying Use at your own risk' or something," said commissioner John Yingst.
"Or maybe we can just get rid of the tables until the grant comes," Yingst added.
Commissioner Bonnie Williams suggested only one of the stations be upgraded to prepare for the tourist sport-fishing season approaching this spring.
There are three fish-cleaning stations in the harbor district, all of them open to weather and birds. And each of them are made of wood, including the fish-cleaning surface.
Ideas on how to improve them originated in the Harbor District's standing Committee for Maintenance and Operations which meets every second and fourth Tuesday of each month.
Deiro and Commissioner Garry Young sit on the committee and took suggestions from the public who use the harbor.
It was decided that covering the tables with stainless steel or aluminum sheeting, replacing the hoses and enclosing the facility with wire fence and a wooden roof is the best option.
Setting the facility on a concrete slab was also mentioned.
To save on staff construction time and money, Young said the committee will research costs and look for tables already constructed.