Sandusky city marina's finances continue to sink

Sinking finances once again shipwrecked the Paper District Marina's bottom line.
Andy Ouriel
Dec 17, 2012


The publicly operated Shoreline Drive marina lost roughly $44,000 in 2012, according to city financial documents.

After opening in July, the 62-slip marina produced roughly $17,000, primarily through people docking their boats and people paying for food at the nearby Dockside Cafe.

Marina-related expenses, however, totaled almost $62,000, covering costs mostly for upkeep and staffing.

For more on the marina's shortfall and plans for the 2013 season, pick up a copy of Monday's Register.



The marina's usage picked up through the season. It's reasonable to expect it to take a couple of years to be fully utilized, but better promotion would help.

This little gem is great for Downtown and great for Sandusky - nothing has done more for the area's image.

Nothing is worse for the area's image than all the negativism.



When the facts are negative it's hard to spin positive. Seven murders in the city. How do we generate a positive? Sould we just ignore the facts. The marina only looses $44,000. They could have lost a million. Is that positive.

Taxpayers spend $7.50 per rider on SPARC. The bus line takes citizens from the city to Perkins to shop and work. Is that positive.

T. A. Schwanger

The $44,000 loss is misleading and an attempt to gather support for making the marina partially seasonal. It appears the figures include a one time charge of $13,000 for consession stand improvements to help Cesare with his Dockside Cafe venture. There is confusion over whether or not the City is paying Cesare's electric bill and trash removal.

The only bill the taxpayers should be footing is dockhand wages, and electric for the docks and Harbor Master Office--hardly a $44,000 venure. The City is currently renegotiating Cesare's contract so now is the time to fix the money bleed.

T. A. Schwanger

car 54

I'm trilled to see the marina and park area being used. This is a great location for a Cedar Point boat for daily rides, maybe bi-hourly to start.


This marina is financially failing by design. You hired Hoty for a design build and he created a facility that was economically impossible to operate due to limited # of boat dock sizes and numbers. Only 62 docks vs 92 that was in the original Request for Proposals. Don't you think if the place was planned for success, that Hoty would have submitted a proposal to operate the Marina?

Hoty Enterprises

Hoty Enterprises is more than willing to provide the reasoning and details for the rationale behind the marina plan (specifically, there are very good reasons the marina is 62 versus 92 docks and this was discussed in open public forum). We also have suggestions as to how to move the marina and the amphitheater, which has yet to be used, forward. Please feel free to contact our office or stop by for more information.


Please inform the public regarding your reasoning 62 Docks verse the planned 92, in this forum. It would be inappropriate for you not to in a public forum, since the funds paid to you were public monies. THANK YOU

Hoty Enterprises

First, please remember that these docks are required to be transient and cannot be seasonal rentals (which is a major difference). The short answer would be that each slip costs about $40,000. Taking into account the number of other transient slips in Sandusky (i.e Cedar Point has only 80 and they have a huge potential for draw), it seemed inefficient to construct the 30 additional docks when it would be almost implausible that they could be filled. Then, consider the long-term maintenance of these additional docks.

Please also remember that while we designed the marina, the public had time to react to the design and then the City accepted the design. We even hosted events wherein we asked for public input. We still feel the design was the most efficient, cost-effective design. Had the docks been able to be used as seasonal rentals, the design would have likely of been different.

Licorice Schtick

Ripping on Hoty isn't fair. Their area investments give them a big stake in Sandusky's success. As a transient maria, it's an excellent design, and time will prove that. It functions well, and it's built with quality materials for low maintenance cost.

Thanks, Hoty!

I'm amazed how negative people are about their own town. Why do they soil their own sandbox?


Timing is another factor too. Weak economy, higher gas prices and the condition of the lake are hurting all of the marinas in Ohio. If you're a boater, you saw fewer docks being used at many of the marinas in Sandusky, Huron, and Vermillion this past summer


How about 50 seasonal slips @ 1,800.00 per slip = 90K. Very simple math.
90K Seasonal + 20K Transient = 110K - 62K Expenses = 48K Profit. You could add some docks along the wall for more slips for more revenue. Also no free dockage for the Restaurant Operator.
12 Transient slips is plenty. How many times did you see more than 12 boats in the marina, unless they were giving away free docks.

Licorice Schtick

WHAT free dockage? What they should offer is MORE free dockage. The goal is to get people downtown. Fill the place up. Then, when it gets more popular, THEN start rakin' it in.


And free flak jackets too!!!

The Bizness

Many business's do not produce a profit in their first year. Dockisde Cafe, and the slips were used more and more as the year went on. I think it is reasonable to think that as more concerts are held there and more boat traffic to come in that it will break even and make a profit. It was only open for a part of one year, with very little advertisement. It will become viable.


If the marina was a private business and knee deep in red ink, the business would be in deep trouble. The taxpayer should not be footing the bill for the loses. Times have changed and so have budgets.


Privatize it.

Licorice Schtick

That's silly. That property sat all but vacant for decades. Private money couldn't do it. Now that the people have made it happen, we should give it away? That's as corrupt a selling the OHIO TURNPIKE. No one would do anything THAT crazy, would they?


@ Licorice Schtick:

"Private money couldn't do (it)"? It's called: Due diligence.

Enjoy the future as a wage slave for the gubbermint – the monied interests own you and your prodigy.

Licorice Schtick

All the wage slaves in this country work for private interests.


@ Licorice Schtick:

So "wage freedom" is working for public interests? LOL.

Better check; taxes are your number one expense. Gettin' your money's worth?

Licorice Schtick

Didn't say that. There you go again - because you can't argue with what I actually SAID, you put words in my mouth and argue against that. So you've argued with yourself, but still not won - it's not clear what you've tried to say, but none of the possibilities are defensible.

AND you're trying to change the subject, because you've lost. You CAN"T win. The libertarian agenda doesn't hold up to critical anaylis.

T. A. Schwanger

To understand the logic behind the Paper District Marina, an understanding of its history in imperative.

The idea was to fill a transient dockage void to assist the rejuvenation of downtown shops and eateries by drawing boaters away from the islands or on their way to and from the islands.

The majority of construction costs came from public funds including Tax Increment Financing (payments in lieu of property tax) from the Chesapeake Lofts Project and Clean Ohio Revitalization Funds. This is not "grown on trees" money project. It's taxpayer funds.

The City Schools had to approve the project based on property taxes used for "public improvements."

The PD Marina and Amphitheater have not seen a full season of operation.

At the last City Commission meeting a commissioner stated "we can go to partial seasonal and if need be go back to transient". Once in a blue moon has a decision by commission been later reversed.

Let's also get it clear the City did not promise the Chesapeake Lofts seasonal dockage.

T. A. Schwanger

The $44,000 loss is misleading and an attempt to gather support for making the marina partially seasonal. It appears the figures include a one time charge of $13,000 for consession stand improvements to help Cesare with his Dockside Cafe venture. There is confusion over whether or not the City is paying Cesare's electric bill and trash removal.

The only bill the taxpayers should be footing is dockhand wages, and electric for the docks and Harbor Master Office--hardly a $44,000 venure. The City is currently renegotiating Cesare's contract so now is the time to fix the money bleed.

T. A. Schwanger


Just let me know when the Dockside opens. I want to be first in line for a walleye taco, and a frosty Great Lakes Commodore Perry.


Jumpin' Jimini!, It's (North) Bimini!

Dinghy Gal


Dinghy Gal

This marina would not pay for itself even if all docks were rented everyday from Memorial to Labor Day. What about the costs to design, build, maintain, loss of tax dollars etc, etc.
Still I commend the city for moving forward to try improve itself for it's citizens. If you called it "Paper Distrct Park" and it was free to all
I guess it would be ok then.

T. A. Schwanger

Hi Dinghy Gal,

Here is how the PD Marina and adjacent improvements were financed using Tax Increment Financing.

Tax increment financing, or TIF, is a public financing method that is used for subsidizing redevelopment, infrastructure, and other community-improvement projects.

The completion of a TIF funded public project (emphasis on public) often results in an increase in the value of surrounding real estate, which generates additional tax revenue. Sales-tax revenue may also increase, and jobs may be added.

When an increase in site value and private investment generates an increase in tax value revenues, in this case the Chesapeake Lofts Project, it is the "tax increment." Tax Increment Financing dedicates tax increments within a certain defined district to finance the debt that is issued to pay for the project ( Paper Disctrict Marina). TIF is often designed to channel funding toward improvements in distressed, underdeveloped, or underutilized parts of a jurisdiction where development might otherwise not occur. TIF creates funding for public or private projects by borrowing against the future increase in these property-tax revenues.

So, the increased property tax value for the Chesapeake Lofts, approx. $500,000 per year for 30 years, is channeled away from the City Schools and into the Paper District Marina, Amphitheater and future public improvements. According to the City, the marina will be paid off as early as next year. There remain a number of unfinished Chesapeake Lofts TIF projects including improvements to Shoreline Drive, relocation of powerlines in front of the Chesapeake and two City Commission approved public plazas to the northwest and southeast of the Chesapeake Lofts.

Hope this answers youur question and concerns.


No one can really answer the question as to whether the marina is to stay transient forever or after the debt is paid off, can it go to seasonal? The city doesn't want to tell the truth on the question. The people have the right to know.


The worst part is that this dockside restaurant is competing with the restaurants and shops downtown. The taxpayer is basically footing the bill to discourage boaters from docking their boats and exploring the local businesses. If anything the taxpayers are shooting themselves in the foot.
The restaurant needs to be nothing more than a concession stand and encourage boaters to dock and go spend money downtown. The only person getting money out of this is the person running that specific restaurant. It needs to be changed so that the benefits go to increasing the entire area's revenues, not just the one guy who somehow landed this cushy contract at taxpayers' expense.


Balderdash. The more restaurants open, the better they all do.

No better place to watch the sunset than from the Dockside.


Wow! How could I argue with that genius logic? Amazing!

Govt funded competition for our local businesses! I would love to know what the local eateries think of their competition being funded by their taxes.

Licorice Schtick

Nonsense. The Dockside closes at sunset. Where do you think the patrons go next?

The transient marina project adds to the appeal of a visit to Sandusky. Everyone wins in the long run. And anyone who thinks that adding a competing restaurant nearby is automatically bad, doesn't know anything about that business.

DEEPsix's picture

it's really a crazy scheme when you consider, very few people, as we COULD NOT MOOR AT THE DOCKS DUE to shalow depths of the marina, and, there are no acceptable businesses for use to walk to in the city. What draw is there for those of us with boats larger than 48' to bring big money spenders to your little pipe dream marina? Caesar is a great guy, he gave over and above to the success of this location,Sandusky when we can go to dozens of other great, established venues are mush greater savings on fuel, etc?


I have never met Caesar, he could be the best guy in the world, but the problem is that the city has used tax payer money to set him up as a competitor to the downtown it's trying to revitalize.

There is still hope for it, but it needs to be changed.



Pastor Ron

It is safer to stay at Dockside because people might get hit by rocks falling off the Keller Building. Pretty sad that a block of Shoreline Dr. has to be blocked off. Maybe Dockside can rent hard helmets for those who want to venture to the downtown area. I suggest you pray when you walk past the Keller Building.


The transient marina concept has yet to go through an entire boating season due to delayed opening.

The city should renegotiate with the present manager to improve the terms and see what happens next season with some off season promotion and publicity and the plans to utilize the amphitheater next summer.

The transient concept should be given more time to prove it can work.

And this may be the first time I have agreed with T. A. Schwanger about anything.

For those whining about the success of the present manager, why didn't you submit a proposal to run the marina yourself?

The Bizness

First of all most people including myself don't go to Dockside then not venture to another bar, or place. Boaters go to Kelleys Island/Put-in-bay and don't stop at the place they dock at.

Secondly Ceaser owns other well established downtown restaurants, and he has found another niche to fill. This will become a draw for boaters once the words out.

Someone goes to the sand bar for a day and want to get lunch and a beer and its a 5 minute ride away.


"We have met the enemy and they are ours; two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop."
-- Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
-- Pogo, apparently from Sandusky


At least all the docks are still floating right side up! More than you can say about last year! Sandusky is run by morons.


To the Register...again another example of why The people need these blogs. Could you imagine having rational conversations in a public setting?