By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

A longtime critic of how Crescent City Harbor District has been governed, Dale Long, is now cheering the latest signs of leadership.

A crucial dredge job will be completed at the synchrolift facility near Fashion Blacksmith, Long's business, and steps will be taken to assure the dredged area won't fill in again.

The synchrolift allows boats to be taken out of the water and into the hangar-sized bays for repair. For 10 or more years, the harbor has failed to keep sand from building up below the lift causing Long to fret over million-dollar contracts that could be lost if the water is too shallow.

andquot;Having that hole is really important to us,andquot; Long said.

A new decision-making committee led by harbor commissioners Mario Deiro and Garry Young is getting credit for the quick action.

andquot;It was a hell of a change. I would have to say it was a productive meeting and everyone in attendance was in agreement with that,andquot; Long said.

Previously, the harbor staff could not keep the area around the synchrolift dredged because federal and state permits lapsed.

Once permits were back in place, other problems and a lack of direction from the commissioners kept the dredging from being completed.

At last Tuesday's meeting, those problems and their solutions were clearly laid out and the commissioners gave the go-ahead to staff.

First, a scuba diver will be hired to assess what needs to be done and check to make sure the project won't harm herring spawning areas.

If no danger is apparent, a three- month prohibition on dredging there will be lifted.

Harbor staff is also researching how to install a permanent pump to keep the problem from reoccuring.

Long said he is very happy about the progress as he has several large jobs scheduled in the near future.

andquot;It's definitely direction and leadership. I think Mario is doing a good job,andquot; Long said.

Within the last couple of months Long's business was chosen by a major tugboat operation in Oakland to do significant rebuilding on two tugs.

The California Department of Fish and Game also chose Fashion Blacksmith to perform retooling on one of its vessels.

Another job is coming from a longtime customer in San Francisco.

andquot;Which is a relief. I've been wringing my hands about where the work is going to come from with the fishing industry kicked on its butt,andquot; he said.