Three strikes you're out

Former Port Clinton mayor encourages city to go through with plans
Alex Green
Jun 13, 2014


Former Port Clinton Mayor Tom Brown says the city is up to bat with no balls and two strikes.

Its initial strike, Brown said, came from not listening to plans presented by Jet Express managers to beautify Waterworks Park when the business giant operated a parking lot on the Jefferson Street Pier years ago.

Council turned a deaf ear to Jet Express' plans back then, he said, and the business later relocated to a site on private property near the drawbridge where it stands today.

Strike one.

Not to mention, the city lost about $300,000 in annual revenue from the parking lot when it moved to private grounds, according to Brown.

Around the same time, during the late 1990s when Brown was mayor, a development company called the Puller Group out of Indianapolis presented a vision for the lot similar to developer Mike Rose's existing plans.

A boardwalk, marina and a hotel were a part of the concept, but it never materialized due to public opposition, Brown said.

Strike two.

Now the city seeks to hit a home run with its back against the wall, an approach questioned by certain critics, particularly Citizens Organized for Responsible Development, or CORD.

City leaders are in negotiations with Rose, CEO of Washington Properties, to transform Waterworks Park into a multi-million dollar lodge, boardwalk and storefront area with other amenities.

CORD is circulating a petition in an effort to create a voting initiative on November's ballot which would give citizens a say on whether the city can develop public parks into commercial areas. The group needs to collect at least 150 signatures for the item to be included on the ballot.

One of Brown's criticisms of CORD is they do not have a constructive plan for the city.

"If CORD had a plan, I'd like to listen to it," he said. "Maybe I'd support it."

But he feels the group only offers opinions on what the city should not pursue.

City council members are trying to look forward and execute their plans in spite of the petition.

Councilwoman Margaret Phillips said Tuesday's council meeting got a bit heated between CORD members and council when a member said they will continue with other initiatives.

"That is their right," Phillips said. "Having a park is great if you have the money for its upkeep. However, of the almost 5,000 people who live in Port Clinton, not many use it unless they are attending a baseball game or stopping for lunch."

These activities are not revenue generators, she said.

Rose's project would only develop a portion of the park, and green space that CORD hopes to preserve will still be left, she added.

"Once the park's revitalization is complete, people will see a better Waterworks Park, one that is handicap accessible," Phillips said.

Phillips agreed with her fellow council member Jerry Tarolli, who believes Rose's plan would only add to some of the revitalization already occurring downtown.

"There's so much excitement downtown, we're moving Port Clinton forward," Tarolli said, suggesting Rose's plan fits in. "There's new businesses, there is so much good news with the (ODOT grant)."

The city was awarded more than $2 million in ODOT funds this week to improve city sidewalks, crosswalks and building facades among others.

City council hopes the ODOT funds will go towards a bigger picture of beautifying downtown Port Clinton.

How big the picture becomes may hang on the the success of CORD's petition, now circulating around the city.



You can beautify the outside all you want; there are still so many ugly things about this place, it's not funny.


Do something… anything… right or wrong… just do something. This City has to start moving again. Population peaked in the 1980’s at around 7,300 people. We are now down to around 6,000 residence.

Sure city council’s past goofs have made employers move outside of the city limits. But the city’s ‘vocal’ residence have also inflicted pain on the city by blocking every plan that has been proposed to move this town forward. Wind farm to help power Erie Industrial Park?…(no may hurt some birds) Develop Water Works park?... (no it may obstruct my view)

If I remember correctly, there was a lot of complaining when the ‘Bird Houses’ were being built along the lake across from ‘Ace’ plaza. Now they are just part of town.

Do I think the development of Water Works Park is a good idea? Well, it’s better than nothing. It’s moving the city forward, with the opportunity to employ more people. Without any major manufacturing here, we might as well accept the fact that we are a Tourist Town, and start catering to them. By the way, about 25% of this town’s employment is in Retail, Accommodations and Food Service.

Speak up if you have any ideas, someone might just listen.

Hey City Council… how about spending some of our new grant money on fixing up West Perry St, and sprucing up the Parks & Rec building. At least that way when the tourists come to park their car, and hop on the Jet Express to spend their money on the islands, they don’t have to look at one of our worst streets. And maybe, just maybe they will actually spend some time and money here instead.

Ralph J.

Polar Group? You mean Puller Group? A lady lawyer tried to warn the Port Clinton Council about the Island Rocket ferry boat company but nobody listened. All blame should be on former and present council members and former mayors for the mess that Port Clinton is now in.

Alex Green

Thanks Ralph it's been corrected.

Ralph J.

You are welcome.

Ralph J.

Case study: Puller Group looks at TIF financing for water park in Port Clinton, Ohio


Baseball is an incorrect metaphor. There is no pitcher unless, as was so often done in the past, PC City Hall defers to the consultant or developer at which point he becomes the pitcher.

There is an old saying in business:

"All businesses are three bad decisions from extinction".

The only force driving the development plan is economic necessity, nothing more. PC lost reliable annual revenue and attempted to fix it by selling water taps to a developer of Section 8 housing which then became inhabited by drug dealers. This alone was beyond stupid.

It could be argued that PC has already had it's 3 strikes or decisions. If you were betting your last dime on PC hitting a homer on the next pitch, which way would YOU bet?


Yes, and wasn't the Mayor promoting section 8 housing Tom Brown? Also wasn't Tom Brown the Mayor who fought the Jet Express efforts not once but twice? He was opposed to their developing Water Works Park and then in a snit after they left supported dockage for Island Express over the vision of Jet Express supported by the business community to put in transient dockage.

IMO, Tom Brown bears more responsibility than anyone for the sorry state of Port Clinton due to his lack of vision and refusal to listen to other viewpoints.


Spot on so far, but it gets worse.

Ralph J.

It gets worse? Can you provide more?


babo.... most people aren't aware that the Jet's legal address is PIB... thus avoiding the 1 1/2% city income tax on itself and it's employees. The only way PC can charge it any city income tax is on the employees while they are working on the Port Clinton side..

PERFECT !! Pretty much a clean sweep for the Jet.

Ralph J.


Ralph J.

One of Brown's criticisms of CORD is they do not have a constructive plan for the city. What did Brown have to offer? Bringing in some rusty landing craft?


Has the City determined the property of Water Works Park actually belongs to the city?

Peninsula Pundit

There's the 64 million dollar question.
Back in the day, when the solons of the city had more on their minds than making a buck, it was considered wise to set aside land in idyllic locations where all the public could enjoy it.
It was called 'working in the public interest.'
This idea is considered a quaint and colloquial notion these days.
And then in the next breath, they wonder why everything has gone to hades with everyone out for themselves chasing the next fast buck.
'Do something, anything.'
If that doesn't sound like desperation personified, I don't know what does.


Well, it's time to ask....

Why not a one dollar per head departure tax on any vessel???

Make the tax payable to the local government.... Port Clinton or the townships.. wherever the vessel's land base is.

I know that there is a VERY GOOD reason that this has not been in effect for years, and it's not that it wasn't suggested.

This afternoon, the ferries to PIB will be packed with people who will throw 20 dollar bills at the bartender hoping to be served sooner...


Also, in a addition to a departure tax couldn't the city or county establish a Port Authority or a Park District to levy property taxes to support Waterworks Park (and other parks) and develop the harbor/Portage River area?

Why isn't there a departure tax?

Ralph J.

Will Port Clinton make the same mistake twice? What was wrong with a 1,000 new jobs at $25 to $40 an hour, a new transient marina and a water park for our young people? We are mowing grass at Waterworks Park at $4000 a square foot. Is this the way we develop the downtown and the waterfront? I think not. No developer is going to come here as long as there are those who work to turn them away. I hope the marshlands get a new look and have been assured that this is going to happen. Don’t forget, citizens, we turned away a 3M dollar improvement to Waterworks Park by our own Jet Express for new trees, ball fields, park equipment, etc., so that they could lease our Waterworks building and the city turned them away and they moved. IMO, Brown appears to exaggerate or tell tales.
1,000 new jobs at $25 to $40 an hour?
Mowing grass at Waterworks Park at $4000 a square foot? Really?
Does Brown really hold a PhD or is it Doctor honoris causa?


It was given to him by his alma mater for his political work. I don't think his alma mater (a teaching college) even awards a real Ph.D.


Home Run for the folks in Port Clinton that stopped the Puller Group!

Ralph J.

I tried to find archives of Port Clinton City Council meeting minutes. None shown, only current minutes are available. IMO, the city council doesn't want anybody to know what happened in the past. How is somebody supposed to request a copy of older minutes if the date or topic of older minutes is not shown? An index would help. I doubt that Port Clinton would release copies of all meeting minutes when Brown was the mayor to the present day. That would have to be hundreds or thousands of pages.


The only way 1000 jobs would fit.... as in occur..... on that property is a good size hospital or factory or large office building. Is any of that going to come to PC?

A thousand jobs????? A thousand jobs?? DELUSIONAL !!

When's the last time you drove past a place that employed 1000 full time people? Only Firelands Hospital. KBI has about 800.


I sincerely hope that my comments above will not provoke PC City Council into reacting irrationally and do something, just to do something.

PC City Council: You're in a tough spot. But fixing new problems is more expensive than not making them in the first place. Right now, your costs are known. Take a breath.