Voters to city leaders: Build the Marina District. With 51.8 percent of the 6,983 votes cast, voters gave the green light to the waterfront redevelopment project considered by supporters vital to the city's future.
"We won! Sandusky won!" exclaimed Sandusky City Commissioner Craig Stahl. He stood with his cell phone smashed to his ear, announcing the results as Commissioner Dennis Murray relayed them to him from the Erie County Board of Elections.
Members of Sandusky Now!, the political action committee in support of the Marina District, gathered at Lake View Condominiums on Water Street to await the outcome of the vote. The unofficial results were announced nearly two hours after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m.
Local philanthropist George Mylander said that Tuesday was one of the biggest nights in the history of Sandusky.
"I trust that everything will fall into place," Mylander said.
"I'm just so glad that there's hope, hope that Sandusky can improve," said Vyki Wilson, member of Sandusky Now!
The proposed Marina District project includes the redevelopment of the Battery Park, City Hall and former Surf's Up properties to include about 300 residential condominiums, retail space, a hotel and a marina. The project also calls for the preservation and enhancement of public park space and waterfront access, according to city leaders and the developer.
Now that citizens have given the OK to move forward, the next step for the city will be to finalize the development agreement, said city Economic Development Specialist Scott Schell.
"We've still got a lot of work to do," Schell said.
Meacham & Apel Architects is working with CEG Development, both of Dublin, Ohio, on the proposed Marina District project.
"Move forward. See potential. Envision the future," reads the CEG Web site.
John Eymann, of Meachem & Apel, said that never before has a public vote decided the future of a development project of which he's been a part.
"I think that the majority of the population was able to see through to what the real issues were," Murray said.
He added that the redevelopment project will be a way to honor Sandusky's past while continuing to work toward its future. The vote "is an enormous turning point," he said.
The issue has been a complicated and controversial one, including official election complaints, police reports and passionate speeches from both sides.
Citizens for Responsive Government was the self-titled "Vote 'No' Campaign", arguing that this development would result in the loss of Battery Park and public waterfront access.
"We expected it to be close," said Tim Schwanger, of Citizens for Responsive Government. Schwanger said the group will look over the numbers again and consider a "Plan B." He wouldn't say exactly what Plan B is, but said, "There's always the legal route."
Marina District Advisory Vote -- the citizen's opinion on whether the city should move forward with the proposed waterfront development on the Battery Park, City Hall and former Surf's Up properties.
Passed by 253 votes. Yes -- 3,618 or 51.8 percent. No -- 3,365 or 48.2 percent.