City should examine marina expenses more closely

Dec 25, 2012


This week’s topic is the Paper District Marina bleeding red ink.

The marina bled $44,000 of red ink.  The city needs to take another look at the operations.

I have some suggestions for cutting down some of the losses. According to the café contract, the taxpayer is picking up the utilities for the marina building, which includes the café operation. Placing a separate electric meter on the café business would help make certain that the café is picking up its own electric billing and not compliments of the taxpayer. Installing a separate meter would pay for itself.

It is in the contract that the taxpayer is supplying the trash dumpsters for the café business. The trash got so bad that it was overflowing the dumpsters and blowing all over the marina area.  It appears that more containers and pickup days were provided to keep the area clean. Unless these services are being prorated in the rental contract, the taxpayer should not be responsible for providing these services to a private business.

It is discouraging to hear that the city facilities are recreational and they don’t necessarily have to make a profit. Would you run a business like that and if not, why would you run red ink on the taxpayer?  All of the facilities should at least be breaking even, anything less then that is unacceptable.

As for seasonal dockage, I often wondered about keeping the marina transient since tax dollars went into the marina.  There is talk about turning some docks into seasonal dockage. It seems the debt on the marina is holding the decision back on the seasonal docks for now. I do think seasonal docks will eventually be decided in order to break even with the expenses. The problem with seasonal docks is that there may be too many docks reserved for seasonal and not enough docks kept transient for boaters who want to come in for future events and entertainment.

I don’t think it is wise to do a long-term contract after just one year of the concession stand operating without the amphitheater up and running to see if the boaters will fill up the transient docks. I would get into the seasonal dockage gradually to see what really will work and increase if needed.  The decision of how many seasonal docks there will be reserved should not be made just because we need collateral revenue against restructuring the finances.

The city needs to keep the marina free of goose droppings and maintain the grass free of weeds.  We are showcasing the marina and it should be in top shape so it is inviting to the boaters. We would want boaters to know that someone really cares about the facility.  Building a fence around the trash dumpsters had been talked about to hide the garbage, which is not a good first impression.  Until next time, we hope next year that the marina will become more profitable.



Sharon, are you planning on running for City Commission so that you can be part of the solution?


If Sharon Johnson runs for City Commission heaven help the city. They would never get anything done with her on the commission.

The Answer Person

Good answer jimmydecant. However that will NEVER happen.

Sharon has a good point about public spaces not making a profit though. To that end let's follow through with her "plan" and also get rid of Washington Park as well. That has never made a dime in 150 years. Haven't we given it enough of a chance?

Actually, Sharon and her cronies have all suggested that the public have full and free access to the waterfront. There has never been realistic consideration of how it will make a profit. Outsourcing, selling and construction/residential/developments on the waterfront is the ONLY way any of it will "make a profit". This fantasy of it all being "free" (free = cheapskates) is nothing more than just that. A fantasy.


@The Answer Person, you make a great point. Using this same logic we should examine Shoreline Park. I am sure it has not made a profit...well ever. So using this logic lets turn it into a profit making machine. Fill in all the inlets and turn it into a dog track!!! The horse track in Toledo is moving to Dayton so the market is open. I am sure that this would be acceptable, as long as it makes a profit of course.


See, I knew there were other like minded folks living in Sandusky.

Parks..huh! Recreational areas...bull! Waterfront areas for people to enjoy...waste of natural resources!! (that deserved 2 !!)

I say black top it all and put up a sign: Factories wanted - pollute as you may!!!


Why not blacktop it all and rent out the parking spaces. No more landscape to maintain, plus it makes money!!! I call that a win-win, and I am sure that the blogger would agree!!

The Answer Person

Once again idiots reign supreme here and are incapable of comprehending humor nor irony.


If it means anything I was agreeing with you and adding to the humor and irony... Somehow I doubt you were talking about yourself though.

The Answer Person

Didn't mean you.


If it is profits they wanted, why didn't they have the ampitheater ready at the same time they had the itinerant boat docks ready? It seems to me that any money making enterprises would have had that ready at the same time. To make money, coordination should have been the order of the day, but that was not the case. Besides that, we will never be the draw the islands are for reasons I think everyone is aware of. It is silly to believe otherwise.

If you didn't want to "lose" money on electricity, why didn't they separate the cantina electric right away? Someone should have thought of that upfront, but doing so now, while not a bad idea, is still going to cost money. It seems that some of this is throwing good money after bad.

As for the docks, some of them should have been made for public seasonal dockage right along to offset costs at the onsight just to defray costs at the beginning. That would have provided at least some income to begin with, even if it had only been a few to allow some money coming in for a couple of seasons.

The trach bins should have had fencing from the start as well, just as an asthetic feature.

As for the geese and their droppings....potty training geese and regulating their flight paths or their place of "landing" isn't something easily done. We just have to live with that, but the more people around the less likely the geese are to congregate I would imagine. They aren't really people friendly, are they? That will clear up by itself.

If this continues to be a drain on the taxpayers then perhaps the commissioners may want to reconsider what is being done with it completely. But making some changes won't hurt. I wouldn't give it much more chance than this next season however. They have had enough chance after this coming season to prove themselves if the changes are made and if nothing changes then other considerations should be made.

Swamp Fox

Its easy to stand on the sideline with all her "wonder" observations, buy and run a downtown business or run for pubic office. oh I forgot she always touts the Register line...


It appears to me that neither Sharon Johnson or the majority of the bloggers are boaters.
For a transient marina to become profitable you must have a reason for boaters to come. Get rid of deep water, tear down the Kellar Building, get waterfront restaurants or a free shuttle to downtown attractions.
Then advertise in Boating publications, Great Lakes Cruisers, ILYC and GCBC. Thats how you fill the marina. Quite frankly the marina is not suited to seasonal dockage. ( security is the main issue ) plus you already have plenty of seasonal slips with a high % of vacancies.


The city shouldn't be in the marina business. It hasn't a clue as to how to run a marina. It will continue to be a headache to the taxpayer. Deep water does not belong to the city and unless someone wants to buy the property, it is stuck where it is at. As for supplying the docks with security for the boaters if you turn it into seasonal, if the boaters want security, they can go somewhere else like the privately owned marinas. The city will not be running a private Yacht Club. The city didn't do their homework in looking into these things before they built the marina and now the taxpayer is paying the price.

BW1's picture

No, they shouldn't be in that business, especially when it means competing with several private sector employers with a high vacancy rate, who better know how to serve their customers. The security issue is a classic example, and it doesn't just apply to seasonal dockage. No one in their right mind would invest the price of a luxury house on a boat, and then leave it unattended even for a few hours in an unsecured marina within a few blocks of the crime plagued 'hood.'


There is very little downtown for anyone to see anyway although some new things have moved in. I agree about the Keller bld going. It should have come down years ago. But the downtown area needs some big things to attract attention before even itinerant boaters will come in, even for a few hours.

The City needs to work on getting some stores in the vacant blds and a THEME down there that will attact customers to downtown. That is what they really need. Themes work very well in attacting people to anything. When the city of Sandusky smartens up and does that, they will have a chance.

Look, CP has the "roller coaster" capital of the world. Each of the water parks has a "theme" attached. It draws people to it. That is what this city is going to have to do. When they do that, it will draw people to it to see it. It is no great shakes to make that happen. Just an idea and someone to put it all together and make it work. Not hard at all.