For it or against it, Marina District vote is crucial

SANDUSKY November's vote for the Marina District project could determine the city's future. Some hav
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



November's vote for the Marina District project could determine the city's future. Some have called it "Sandusky's last chance" for economic revitalization. Others say it will cost citizens access to waterfront parks.

The Marina District project calls for the redevelopment of the 30-acre property home to City Hall, Battery Park and former Surf's Up properties along Meigs and Water streets in downtown Sandusky. The developer of the project as it stands today is Meacham and Apel Architects of Dublin, Ohio.

This is how the issue will appear on the ballot:

Should the City of Sandusky proceed with the public/private redevelopment project of portions of City Hall, Battery Park and the Surf's Up properties for residential and commercial developments while preserving and enhancing the City's parks and waterfront access for public purposes?

* A "YES" vote will mean...

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2008 if the city decides to move forward with the Marina District project.

"It will start in motion a process that will involve negotiating a definitive agreement," said Sandusky City Commissioner Dennis Murray.

This negotiation will take a good couple of months and involve the Board of Zoning Appeals, Planning Commission and an agreement with the Sandusky Board of Education, Murray said.

The site plan calls for 300 residential condominiums, 25,000 square feet of commercial space, a 10,000-square-foot marina building, a 120 to 150 room hotel, a new city hall and enhanced public park space. The Sandusky Sailing Club has already agreed to a long-term lease with the city to remain on its property regardless of additional development.

According to a non-partisan economic impact study commissioned by the Sandusky/Erie County Community Foundation, the project could result in $248,900,000 and more than a thousand new jobs for the area.

* A "NO" vote will mean...

"We are happy with the status quo," Murray said. "With all due respect, I think that is not a realistic viewpoint."

"There's just people out there that will never see the truth -- economic revitalization does mean development," said John Eymann of Meacham and Apel Architects. "New businesses aren't created out of the nothing."

According to Citizens for Responsive Government, a "no" vote will protect public parkspace and waterfront access should the site plans change. The group believes that there are other areas, such as the Apex property or the vacant site near Mack Iron that are better suited for this type of development.

Since the issue on the ballot is an advisory vote, the city commission will take the citizens' decision into account but could still vote either way. Commissioner Brain Crandall expressed at the most recent commission meeting that he will be a "no" vote for the Marina District and Ex officio Mayor Dan Kaman must abstain from any vote pertaining to the Marina District. With a majority of five votes needed to pass the ordinance as an emergency, that means the remaining five commissioners would all have to vote "yes." Commissioners and citizens alike have said they wonder if that could happen.

The Marina District

The Issue: An advisory vote asking citizens what they want to do with their waterfront

How Much: The $153 million dollar project has been estimated to result in more than $200 million of revenue

What's at stake: A three-phase project which will include 300 residential condominiums, retail space, a marina, a 120-150 room hotel, a new city hall and enhanced public parkspace on the 30-acre property which is currently home to Battery Park, City Hall and the former Surf's Up property known as the Sandusky Bay Pavilion.