REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Back to basics on Marina District

The plans, they are a-changin'. And for some people, that's just one more reason to not trust anything about the plan
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


The plans, they are a-changin'.

And for some people, that's just one more reason to not trust anything about the plans for what's now known as the Marina District.

Back up a bit. The shifting of city hall to the bottom of the stack in the Marina District plans, when it started out as the project's reason for being, is cause for re-assessment, as is the slow pace of negotiations between the city and the project's principals. It is not cause to abandon the idea wholesale.

This newspaper's editorial board backed the project in concept for two reasons: Sandusky needs to capitalize on its most obvious asset -- its waterfront -- and it still strikes us as illogical that a major chunk of that asset -- the waterfront land on which City Hall sits -- generates no property taxes, because it's government-owned.

We still back the project in concept because of those reasons. We agree the maintenance of public access to the waterfront needs to be a non-negotiable component of any development of that corner of downtown. We maintain the proposals as presented thus far enhance, if not preserve, this ideal.

We also need to consider whether proposed condos are the optimum use of the land once known as Surf's Up. While the land, now called Sandusky Bay Pavilion, has been taken to heart by Sanduskians who remember taking their own kids to Surf's Up and is now host to a wildly successful family-oriented festival, we should welcome any development on the land which benefits the general good of Sandusky.

We looked back two years ago to see what the city sought from a developer. According to the city's Request for Proposal,  any development had to:

-- Preserve/enhance public access, enhance sightlines and landscaping

-- Stimulate other commercial redevelopment / increase opportunity

-- Offer year-round activity and be an off-season asset

-- Generate additional economic revenue

-- Be sustainable and a long-term asset to the community

-- Stimulate residential redevelopment / revitalization

-- Develop lakefront corridor

-- Preserve and "positively impact" Battery Park Marina and the Sadler Sailing Basin

-- Consider or enhance transportation corridors

-- Create a unique point of destination

-- Be inclusive, multi-cultural, generational, functional, economical

If the current proposals don't get us what we sought, what we voted to do, it may be time to step back and seek other options. If, however, it does, we need to get on with the project.

It's been argued the sort of high-tech companies we want to attract want to know whether the sort of cultural life high-tech workers want, is there waiting for those workers. It's also been argued the jobs should come first, and let the cultural life take care of itself. The reality, we think, is for those two components to build on each other, step by half-step, and any opportunity to take one of those little steps should be seized upon, and never mind who's worried about going first.

The Marina District is one of those steps. Maybe even a half-step, but a needed one.

That's why going back to re-examine the project, to see how well it stays true to its concept, can only help.