A Monday meeting of the Waterfront Aesthetics Committee once again veered toward more fundamental aspects of the Small Boat Harbor expansion project, prompting the Mayor and deputy Mayor to repeatedly admonish people that the meeting was intended to focus only on aesthetics.

The meeting was held at Lookout Park so committee members could better visualize how the project would affect the area.

At one point during the meeting when a discussion devolved into several people talking over one another about the harbor breakwater, Mayor Jan Hill shouted above the din, “Let’s talk AESTHETICS.”

When committee member Debra Schnabel, representing the Chamber of Commerce, spoke up to voice her objections to the current project design, Hill told her, “We’re not talking about that. We’re talking about aesthetics.”

“Our job is to deal with the aesthetics. Not changing anything at the boat harbor,” Hill said at another point in the meeting.

Schnabel also voiced her concerns about the large parking lot, which under the current design will envelop Lookout Park. “For Lookout Park to be surrounded by a parking lot negates it as a park, in my opinion,” Schnabel said.

“My response to that is,” Hill said, “if you’re sitting at Lookout Park and you choose to look down at cars, shame on you. Because there’s a lot of better things to look at if you just look straight ahead. I think you can look beyond cars. They’re not going to be right in your face.”

Schnabel said in an interview Wednesday she voluntarily resigned from the committee after Monday’s meeting when she was made aware Hill and another committee member were questioning her contributions to the group.

“The rules of the appointment were to not address any issues of the design but to only speak to issues of aesthetics. I could not separate design from aesthetics. Intellectually, I just couldn’t separate design from aesthetics,” she said.

Deputy Mayor Lapham also repeatedly reiterated at Monday’s meeting “There is no changing with 14B,” referring to the current design plan.

“We’re not here to change anything with the harbor expansion,” Lapham said.

Audience members Tresham Gregg and Jack Wenner, however, weren’t satisfied with just talking about aesthetics.

At one point, Lapham stated, “This is what the public has cried out for. They have cried out that they have not had enough public input into this whole scope of a project, and now we’re giving them a small portion of that.” Gregg replied, “Why not give us the whole scope?”

Throwing critics of the project a crumb isn’t allowing them an opportunity to change the actual concept of the harbor, Gregg said.

Resident Carol Tuynman, who attended the meeting, said in an interview afterward that she felt the committee’s creation was “an empty gesture.”

“The self-appointed committee basically has its mind made up and is actually now angry at people who disagree with a highly-flawed plan,” Tuynman said.

  The committee hasn’t scheduled its next meeting, though it is expected to review the project’s 95-percent design documents that were released this week.