Consultant warns: Turning point near for Port Clinton

PORT CLINTON A special report released by an Akron-based engineering firm indicates that Port Clinton's waterfront developmen
May 24, 2010



A special report released by an Akron-based engineering firm indicates that Port Clinton's waterfront development project is at a crucial point.

The crucial point refers to a referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot that would change the zoning of Water Works Park, allowing construction of a waterpark, convention center and hotel.

John Zayak, of Floyde Browne Group, said he believes the zoning issue is critical.

"I personally think that the community has reached the fork in the road," Zayak said. "If the zoning is not upheld, I think it's going to lose momentum. You can just sense it."

Puller Group, an Indianapolis-based developer, will build the development that could be finished within 18 months from a potential start date of January 2008, assuming the zoning issue is approved by voters.

The $75 million project has been in the works ever since the Port Clinton Council first talked about a waterfront development 18 years ago.

"The fate of our city is at hand," Mayor Tom Brown said. "I hope people realize we need to move forward. The people have the choice of going one way or another.

"If the zoning issue is defeated, nothing will go at Water Works Park."

The zoning issue has been a hot item in council meetings since at least two of the seven council members disagree with the decision to change the zoning.

"Why is an engineering company giving their personal opinion that is not based on specific factual data?" Councilman Glenn Chapman asked. "Whether we are at the fork in the road or not, it still means we have to do an intelligent, smart project. As I've maintained, the facts are not fully vetted."

Citizens Organized for Responsible Development, a grass roots organization, placed the zoning issue on the ballot. The group has maintained it wants to give the people a choice to vote on the issue.

Although the zoning issue is a matter of contention, both sides seem to agree that a marina is needed.

"The marina is something that both sides agree on," Zayak said. "The problem is that the marina cannot be funded without this adjacent development. The city cannot finance it out of their general fund."

The $9.7 million transient marina includes a 161-slip dockage that could draw people from the Cleveland, Toledo and Detroit areas.

"We need to put the port in Port Clinton," Brown said. "We need to be a destination. The marina will attract them right off the lake."