Friday, December 5, 2014

Updated: New Proposal For Fly Creek's Municipal Marina

Fairhope, Alabama


Updated: Clarifications have been made concerning possible rent charges for the 17 Turtles and Eastern Shore Marine leases. Mrs. Tonsmeire is the financial manager of Turtles, Anna Bryant, the Environmental Director at Camp Beckwith on Weeks Bay, is its Registered Agent. Tonsmeire is also the founder of the Fairhope chapter of Mobile Bay Green Drinks Club.

New Proposal for 'Ice House'

At the Harbor Board meeting last week, Elizabeth Tonsmeire of the recently-formed 17 Turtles* non-profit organization made a proposal to rent the old 'Ice House' building at the city marina on the northwest side of Fly Creek to operate a recreational canoe and kayak rental business.

(*Seventeen species of turtles are found in the Mobile/Tensaw river delta.)

The Board began advertising publicly for proposals to lease it last spring; but the only other respondent -- a fish marketing business -- backed out because of the high cost of modifying and repairing the structure for that usage. (If major repairs are made, the building would have to be raised considerably, according to new flood plain maps.)

Tonsmeire, the financial officer for the organization, said only limited changes will be needed, mostly cosmetic, totaling about $8,600.

She hoped the project would be educational, and get people "out onto the water" with boat and nature tours up the creek and into the bay to help "foster a more protective environment." 
Elizabeth Tonsmiere

Dr. Lynn Yonge's Outward Bound School organization for at-risk children/teenagers, as well as local veterans groups, have expressed interest in using the facility as well. Some extra canoes and kayaks from the school will be used.

Tonsmeire proposed leasing for $250/mo. for a trial one year period -- and asked the city to furnish a porta potty, since there are no public restrooms nearby; but everything is negotiable.

Mayor Kant said this was their first opportunity to get the run-down building fixed up somewhat: "We put out proposals ... now we finally have a live one."; but Councilman Burrell thought the city should not be responsible for the porta potty and for seeing that it is maintained: it would be better for the business itself to be responsible instead -- and perhaps take the cost (about $70/mo) out of the monthly rent paid to the city. (Burrell saiid later the rent should probably be more than the $250/mo proposed by Tonsmeire, and the restroom rent still deducted.)
 "Ice House"

The Board ultimately voted unanimously to recommend approval of the project by the city council: the mayor is to negotiate exact terms of the contract, which is to begin on Jan. 1, 2015.

Tonsmeire: " Its a good fit ... not loud ... no pollution ... (we'll) try it for one season to see if it works out."


The privately-owned Fairhope Yacht Club and Fly Creek Marina on the south side have begun dredging to remove sand and other debris within 20' of their piers, where no additional permits are required; but the city's side, the central turning basin and channel out into the bay are still in need.

Fairhope's Fly Creek Marina
The mayor said the U.S. Congress has not been able to work out its budget issues for several years now ("a mess") -- leaving dredging operations usually done by the Army Corp. of Engineers in limbo.

Board chairman Yeager said that the record-setting rainstorms last Spring made the problem worse, bringing more sand down the creek into the basin: other debris, submerged stumps and logs as well. The sand has built up along the city's fish dock and finger slips so badly that boats sometimes hit bottom during low tide.

cypress stump on barge
Since those event were declared a federal disaster, the mayor applied to FEMA for funding ($300K) -- but was told it did not qualify since the city had not been doing the dredging there previously.

To hire a private contractor instead to do all of the remaining work could cost the city up to $800K; but the mayor was to investigate having the Public Works Dept. remove the sand from the dock/slips-area at least, possibly using a backhoe.

Sand still needs to be dredged from the city's other marina as well, at the Municipal pier.


north end of dock
A general clean-up of the area is also progressing: trash/accumulated junk has been removed as well as abandoned boats left in the parking lot. Brush has been cut back from the property line and a fence is to be installed there.

Councilman Burrell said the council had voted last year to direct marina rent receipts to the Harbor Board to "make the area look nice."


west side park
Eastern Shore Marine's (Ed Wall) 10yr lease is set to expire Oct. 1, 2015; and the city council will have to decide whether to renew it as is, renegotiate, or seek other bidders.

ESM currently pays about $1,200/mo. plus 5% of gross revenue, according to member Bob Riggs.

Burrell called that amount "a bargain"-- and suggested around $2,000/mo. (Burrell said later $4,000/mo or more may be more appropriate, he was only speaking informally -- off the cuff -- at this meeting) would be more appropriate: but that will be a decision for the whole council to make next summer (majority vote).

(One member said he knew of someone who had expressed interest in the property/lease last year.)

Some confusion arose when it was revealed that the lessee claims there are actually two separate leases in effect; the other being for the park property on the west side; but city clerk Lisa Hanks said she knew of only one


Yeager referred to a list of some other maintenance needs the Board had submitted to the mayor earlier this year -- but have not yet received attention, including:

* Repairs to the finger piers and bulkheads (rotting wood)
* Resurface the parking lot (with packed gravel)
* A sunken sail boat at the city's municipal pier marina has still not been removed.

Burrell advised him to bring the list to an upcoming council work session for discussion and possible action. (Mayor Kant had already left this meeting, to attend another one.)


Anonymous said...

The guy who runs the restaurant on the main pier has a sweetheart lease deal with the city too ... way things have always been done here ..

Anonymous said...

Strange how a dirty shipyard exists right next to million dollar houses on Sea Cliff Dr ....

Anonymous said...

Wonderful that this maritime oriented town even has a boatyard to facilitate the hundreds of boaters on the eastern shore...not to mention transient slips for the boaters traversing the great circle who dock there for days and go into town to shop and eat. They provide a much needed/valuable service to the boating industry in our area. Bottom line, we are a maritime town like Savannah, Charleston, Beaufort and the hundreds of towns. Boats yards are not country clubs. Fish markets/docks smell. Shrimp, oyster and lobster boats are not gleaming yachts. However, they are a valuable asset within our maritime heritage, legacy in this town. Other seaport towns get it. Let's hope we do too.

Anonymous said...'s not a "shipyard". It's a small boatyard that maintains the boats the people in those million dollar homes own and many of the sailboats at Fairhope's yacht club across the creek from the property.
The City has set the rent $$ for years. Not the boatyard.