P.C. ponders options after Puller pulls out

PORT CLINTON With Puller Group abandoning plans for Waterworks Park, downtown business owners are cl
JACOB LAMMERS
May 24, 2010

PORT CLINTON

With Puller Group abandoning plans for Waterworks Park, downtown business owners are clamoring for another development to bring people and money to the area.

Puller Group, an Indianapolis-based developer, was expected to reach an agreement with city officials on a proposed waterpark, convention center and hotel. Puller Group ended negotiations with the city last week.

"I do think it was a good idea," said Tim McCann, owner of Fisherman's Wharf, 83 N. Madison St. "It's too bad it's not getting off the ground, but we need something to bring people to Port Clinton."

While many city officials were optimistic about finding another developer, councilman Mike Snider described it as a "setback."

McCann said city officials have been talking about waterfront development for 30 years, so it doesn't surprise him the project did not get off the ground.

"It's a big baby," McCann said. "Somebody's got to stick their neck out, and this is a seasonal area; there's a lot of risk."

Port Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce president Dick Spicer said Puller Group's pullout is a "pause in our progress" and is nothing to worry about.

"Anybody that panics right now is foolish," Spicer said. "I would rather just give the decision-makers time to regroup and find another developer."

Puller Group was first considered in July 2006 and chosen in January 2007; however, it took nearly another year before the city could restart negotiations with Puller Group. Negotiations were on hold for several months so citizens could vote on a zoning change allowing for development at Waterworks Park. The issue was approved in November.

Citizens Organized for Responsible Development circulated a petition that placed the zoning change on the ballot. The grass-roots organization adamantly opposed the Puller Group project.

"You've got all these negative people here, who are like a cancer here," Spicer said. "Those negative thinkers are nothing but a cancer to progress in this city."

Laurie Cirone-Xu did not like the Puller Group project, but said she still wants development.

"I don't believe that was the answer to updating Port Clinton," said Cirone-Xu, owner of La' Xu, a downtown jewelry store and repair shop. "Port Clinton needs to get together and come to a sensible agreement.

"We need to get people to come here year round."

The city's negotiating team is expected to meet to discuss options and send out new requests for targeted developers.