LOCAL VOICES: Q&A on Port Clinton Waterworks project

As members of Port Clinton City Council, we would like to take this opportunity to inform citizens about the Waterworks Park develop
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

As members of Port Clinton City Council, we would like to take this opportunity to inform citizens about the Waterworks Park development process.

Why is City Council working to bring a developer to Port Clinton?

As public servants, our responsibility to citizens is to improve streets, provide quality services, and ensure the safety of the city's residents. Our ability to accomplish these tasks is directly linked to the city's economy, which has declined. A developer will help to revitalize Port Clinton's economy by bringing employment, money, and business activity to our community. 95 percent of 300 Port Clinton voters responding to a May 2005 phone survey stated that the city needed to be aggressive in bringing in new businesses.

Why has Council chosen to develop Waterworks Park?

The city owns and can lease Waterworks Park to bring revenue directly to the city, which is not the case with private property.

Why did Council repeal Ordinance 02-07 on May 1, 2007?

In January 2007 Council passed Ordinance 02-07 directing the city's Safety-Service Director to enter into negotiations with The Puller Group to build a hotel, indoor waterpark, convention center, and marina. Fourteen residents led by individuals opposed to the Puller development circulated a petition to put a referendum on Ordinance 02-07 on the November 2007 ballot. This prevented the Safety-Service Director from beginning negotiations with the developer.

What action will Council take now?

Council plans to pass a motion to allow the city to negotiate with The Puller Group. Because a motion is not subject to a referendum, the process of refining the proposal and defining the specific financial gains the city will receive can begin. Council members and many residents would like to know these details before making a decision about whether the development should proceed. Those residents who oppose development of Waterworks Park will still have an opportunity to request a public vote on the issue in November because the zoning change ordinance that is required for any development to occur in the park will be subject to a referendum.

Why is development needed now?

Economic development is long overdue. The city has made personnel cuts, reduced service levels, and postponed investment in infrastructure. The city's population is declining (down 11 percent from 1990 to 2000). This leaves fewer people to shoulder the burden of costs such as sewage treatment and street repair. City revenue from income tax increased by less than $8,000 from 2005 to 2006 while expenses increased at a higher rate.

How will the hotel/waterpark/convention center/marina benefit Port Clinton?

• The developer will invest approximately $125 million to improve Waterworks Park and construct a public marina.

• The developer estimates that the hotel/waterpark will employ 400 people (many of them year-round), increasing income tax revenues.

• The city will collect hotel tax paid by tourists.

• The developer will make lease payments to the city, pay sewer and water fees, and anticipates spending $1.8 million per year to promote Port Clinton as a destination.

Council and residents have been considering waterfront development for many years. It is past time to act. For those who want more job opportunities, better city services, infrastructure improvements, and new recreational and cultural programs, this process has unfolded much too slowly.

In the April 2 Register Viewpoint, "That's the ol' can't-do spirit," the editors conclude: "A successful Sandusky is good for the whole area, whatever else other localities do on their own or in concert. And a blighted town will drag everyone down." The members of Port Clinton City Council who support The Puller Group project wholeheartedly agree that citizens on both sides of the bridge must look to the future of our region as well as our hometowns. We believe that we have selected a project that will retain Port Clinton's character, revitalize our economy, provide necessary city funding, and build a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren.

This column was also signed by council members Valerie Culver, John Folger, Debbie Hymore-Tester and Tom Pope.