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Commission votes on waterfront property

Andy Ouriel • Jul 2, 2015 at 10:14 AM

While Sandusky city commissioners remain divided on how to develop a popular property, they did manage to overcome controversy and bickering to reach a resolution for the Sandusky Bay Pavilion.

Commissioners voted 4-3 in favor of keeping the Sandusky Bay Pavilion, ensuring it remains a public gathering place for community events and educational purposes.

Ex officio mayor John Hamilton, along with commissioners Diedre Cole, Keith Grohe and Wes Poole, supported the measure.

Commissioners Pervis Brown, Julie Farrar and Jeff Smith rejected it.

Motivation for the four "yes" votes primarily resulted from a recent meeting about pavilion activity at Sandusky High School.

Many of the meeting's 40 attendees — among them Sandusky residents, city advocates and community stakeholders — spoke to keep the East Water Street facility a public venue.

Thousands flock to the pavilion each year, where local nonprofits host events such as KidsFest and Safety Fair and the Big Splash Raffle.

But anyone entering the pavilion's premises, located between the Sandusky Yacht Club and Battery Park Marina, realize they're surrounded by health hazards. Years of neglect at the pavilion have led to several concerns, including a contaminated wave pool, a warped roof and various other problems.

Some city commissioners believe local nonprofits and residents who use the pavilion deserve a better facility.

"All we want is a commitment from this commission to work with existing entities that use the park currently and donate regularly to its care and maintenance," said Cole, adding that a plan must be developed for the park.

Without a blueprint to enhance the pavilion, some fear the facility could further decay.

"That property has sat, as is, for eight to 10 years," Poole said.

Smith voted "no," as he prefers city officials compose a detailed pavilion plan rather than sporadically making piecemeal upgrades.

"Before we make any decision, we need to create a strategic plan for that property," Smith said. "To say that a few organizations use that property one day a year, obviously they would want us to keep it public."

Brown echoed Smith's comments.

"If someone comes to us and says, 'I will give you $4 million for that property, are we going to say this is not for sale?'" Brown said.

Poole quickly responded to Brown's concern.

"If the $4 million man was going to show up, he has had plenty of time," Poole said. "It's time to make a decision on that property and move forward."

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