Scott J. Schell
Economic Development Specialist
City of Sandusky
I wanted the opportunity to respond to the guest column presented by Ms. Shannon Meyer, Executive Director of Defense of Place, a self-proclaimed "national park protection organization" seemingly joined at the hip with Sandusky's own Waterfront Watchdogs, Citizens for Responsive Government, Save Battery Park, Save Our Shoreline Parks or whatever they have chosen to call themselves.
I believe the Defense of Place presents only a minimal amount of fact in order to incite public debate without presenting the entire story. Their statements of how the Marina District Project will "destroy" Battery Park, losing " ... not only a park and event center but also this lakefront access" are at best, inaccurate, and at worst, purposely misleading. It is easy to see how Defense of Place and the Save Our Shoreline Parks group have formed such a bond over the past few months. Now they are throwing the Sandusky Yacht Club into the mix without an honest representation of those facts either.
Let's look at the Sandusky Bay Pavilion issue. This facility is open only during public events. The rest of the time lakefront access is closed to the public. In fairness, the proposed Marina District Development Plan for this property calls for half of the Sandusky Bay Pavilion property to be retained as public park space -- and that's the half closest to the water. That's 24/7/365.
Additionally, the developer has proposed building a "Boardwalk" cantilevered over the existing rock break walls that would get the public even closer to the water.
Defense of Place did accurately point out that the Surf's Up wave pool facility was funded in part by Land & Water Conservation Fund money. They go on to state that these properties are protected by National Park Service guidelines with respect to any potential conversion of these properties. The city has been working with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in this process for over three years. Two public meetings this past spring were held to gather public input on possible substitution properties. From these meetings six potential locations were identified by the Recreation Board as potential substitution properties. Defense of Place inaccurately states that the properties being considered by the City "... aren't even on the lake." In reality, four out of the six properties are directly on the lake, while the other two are along a section of Pipe Creek, which is basically across Cleveland Road from East Sandusky Bay.
They go on to cite examples of how other states are "defrauding" the public by "... taking away LWCF funded parks" or closing on the sale of land before bothering to propose replacement lands.
Maybe that is what is happening in other states, but it is not the process that is going on in Sandusky. The city has stated on numerous occasions, including the two recent public meetings mentioned above, that we indeed want to develop another community events venue along the waterfront when the Marina District development at the Sandusky Bay Pavilion moves forward.
To use the group's own words: "Shame on you," Defense of Place. It's time to stand up for the truth!