Sunday, June 11, 2017

Update: Council To Decide Fly Creek Boatyard's Future

Fairhope, Alabama

Update: During this evenings council meeting (June 12) Harbor Board Chairman Riggs told the Times it is his understanding the current lessee does not have first right of acceptance/refusal of any new contract, as was previously announced. No decision was made about the boatyard or marina.

"Boatyard" parcel


The city council will have to decide soon whether to renew its lease of two parcels of city property  at the end of Sea Cliff Drive, put out the leases for bid, or take back posession itself.

Both are currently leased by Eastern Shore Marine, Inc: the southern-most parcel is being used as a repair yard -- and the other on the west side as a marina, with a small park.

(The city's "shrimp boat" marina and '17 Turtles' (aka Ice House) building to the northeast are not involved.)

The council may also decide what changes to make to new leases -- such as duration, increasing rent, maintenance responsibilities, etc.

Since the cleanliness/tidiness of the area has long been criticized, a 'Clean Marina' policy (click) has been recommended to be included  by the city's Environmental Committee.  (As lease expirations neared, the facilities were cleaned-up considerably.)

"Marina" parcel


The two current 15-year leases expire in October; but the current lessee has first right of acceptance/refusal of any new proposals before they could be put out for bids to other interested parties.

Ed Wall, longtime owner/operator of Eastern Shore Marine, has decided not to continue there but his daughter Catherine wants to continue to operate the family business. She addressed the city's  Environmental Committee during its June meeting about their concerns; the committee decided not to take an official position on the leases.

Catherine Wall, center
The council would have to reimburse Wall for improvements he made there, if it decided not to continue leasing out the property; an assessment was to be prepared and presented to the council by this time.

The city's Harbor Board was to make recommendations for modifying the leases, notably to increase revenue to the city so the area can be properly maintained (such as help with channel dredging), but the terms have not-yet been made public. (The current leases have been criticized as "sweetheart deals")

Also, some members of the board have expressed dis-satisfaction in recent years with how the facilities have been maintained and operated,  but decided not to make any more specific recommendation as a body because of lack of consensus -- but scenarios discussed include:

* City taking over operation of both the boatyard and marina.
* City taking over marina operations only.
* Renewing both leases to Eastern Shore Marine (with modification of terms)
* Putting both leases out to the highest bidder together
* Splitting the leases (marina and boat repair yard); put each out for bids separately.
* Eliminating the boat repair facility altogether


Although she does not have a vote in the matter, mayor Wilson is recommending (click) the council let the city assume responsibility for the marina only -- and put out the boatyard lease to the highest bidder.

Councilman Boone has indicated he prefers to continue the current arrangement; Burrell has favored private management as well.  Sentiments of the others are not known.

 park area (on west side)
Harbor Board chairman Riggs has strongly-advocated for city control too -- but as an individual only, not on behalf of the board. Former chairman Tom Yeager advocates equally as strongly for the status quo; their disagreement centers on whether the area should be kept primarily as  traditional "working docks" or more for recreational boaters and visitors ("Loopers" -- click).

Residents along Sea Cliff Drive worry about increased traffic, in any scenario. Installing a sidewalk there is problematic since half is in the county, half in the city -- and right of way limited.

(The Harbor "Board" was once a separate legal entity, but was changed to an advisory committee to the city council in 2013 It has been criticized itself from time to time for secrecy: lack of adherence to state open meeting laws.)

Mayor Wilson and Yeager debating at the March Harbor Board meeting (far end of table)


Anonymous said...

So Boone was the status quo, rest of councilmen are quite & the mayor wants to make it profitable for the taxpayers. No news here.

Anonymous said...

There needs to be a bridge over the creek somewhere to divert traffic off of Sea Cliff. Maybe BB can help fund it?

Anonymous said...

That is a residential neighborhood now, not compatible with heavy industry.

Anonymous said...

The other boatyard across the creek could install the lift there instead.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again, a few rich people complaining. Think the marina has been there longer, and the home owners knew when they bought the property what was down there. Leave it like it is, City dies not have the man power to operate a marina too, unless the mayor has a friend that she can hire to do it.

Anonymous said...

There ought to be sewage hook ups so the boats won't keep dumping there stuff into the bay.

Anonymous said...

Please Mayor and city council take this lease back and put in a public boat launch, there was one there for public use in the 70,s it was leased out because the residents along sea cliff drive did not like us the people of Fairhope using our property. We do not have adequate boat trailer parking at pier street and a west wind makes it dangerous. When you dredge the channel it is all the people who pay for it. My name is Tommy Davis and I have wished for that ramp back for many years.

Anonymous said...

There already is a sewage pump out station in place. The city received a grant to install and maintain the pump out station but has failed to maintain it.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I believe you are mistaken about the boat ramp. Ive lived in Fairhope and Daphne since 1965 and there has never been a boat ramp at that location.

My family has lived in Fairhope for over 80 years and none of them remember a boat ramp at that location.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who can not remember more than thirty years, the current leaseholder has made tremendous improvements to the Eastern Shore Marine marina property.

During the same period take a look at the city owned and operated docks adjacent to the Eastern Shore Marine. They have not changed and are in a state of disrepair. The city approved repairs 2 years ago that still have not happened.

Has anyone ever known a government to run things efficiently?

Anonymous said...

Wilson v Yeager? I would buy a ticket to see that one! ;)

Anonymous said...

The mayor was debating? LOL

Anonymous said...

City doesn't even have the man power to keep our garbage/trash picked up. I have had to call numerous times to get mine taken care of.

Anonymous said...

Small town politics as usual. There will always be folks with direct economic interest in keeping things the same, that go directly on the attack, including personal attacks, whenever the Mayor (or anyone) proposes a change that will benefit the vast majority of Fairhope's long suffering taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Well since the city tax has imposed with out referendum of the SINGLE TAX members,and the lack of the city to do much of anything.The entire group should just close it or SELL it to cover the lack of revenue required to run the city.City can't maintain what it has as it is,and is rapidly on the decline in maintenance and infrastructure.

Anonymous said...

All I am seeing for the mayor's office is spend money on everything except the current needs. If the city takes control, then more employees on the city payroll, more expenses. This mayor loves to spend the taxpayer's money on everything but the infrastructure. In all of this, no one has stated the cost of the employees, the cost!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the previous poster, as did the Harbor Board. Our Mayor's advisors are two high school grads (who graduated decades ago and needed paychecks. I spent months hating the City Council for 'being disrespectful to Karin Wilson and now owe apologies and gratitude to the Council for taking away her check book. Karin thinks the voters are behind her.......lots of us did vote for her and we admit that we were stupid! Karin's problem is that she will not listen to anyone who is trying to help her. I feel sorry for her family. What an example of stupidity in government.

Karen Skelly said...

My mother was a secretary at Eastern Shore Marine Inc. for 11 years. I tried to do her job when she got too sick to do it but I was only employed there for a year as was my daughter. My step-father​was Robert 'Bob'Jefferson who ran the fish store for 30 years on the grounds of the marina. So I have alot of history there so I'm glad Catherine wants to keep it going.

Thanks for listening
Karen Skelly

Anonymous said...

Loved Bob Jefferson. Sure got a lot of good seafood there.