Archived Story

Council to revisit waterfront plan

Published 5:42pm Thursday, August 15, 2013

A recommendation concerning implementation of Washington’s waterfront plan is expected to be presented at the City Council’s Aug. 26 meeting.

Councilman Edward Moultrie, during the council’s meeting Monday, asked about a timeline regarding that plan.

“We’ll have a recommendation for you at the next Committee of the Whole (meeting) to make that presentation. I’ve had some conversations with staff. I’ve had some conversations with the recreation advisory folks. I’ve had some conversations with the (Washington Harbor District Alliance) folks,” City Manager Brian Alligood told the council. “We need to pull all that together. What I understand is, based upon our budget restrictions and based upon what this council has put forward and what they’re looking for in this year, we just need to wrap all that together and bring it back to you. With all those parties, (we need to) try to get all those parties in agreement.”

Bill Sykes, a Washington resident and boater, has concerns some city officials — some council members and some members of the Recreation Advisory Committee — may not be on board with implementing at least parts of the waterfront plan, especially operating the city docks as an enterprise fund, which means running them as a business. Sykes supports operating the docks as an enterprise fund.

“If the proposed management model had been in place in the past, the financial results would have been radically better, and the increased economic activity at the waterfront would have helped to revitalize the downtown area,” according to Sykes.

At the council’s July 1 meeting, a proposal to operate the city docks was discussed, but the council delayed acting on the proposal.

The maritime committee of the Washington Harbor District Alliance wants the city to set up the docks as an enterprise fund, meaning it would be operated like a business trying to make a profit.

“We feel our harbor is an economic engine for Washington. That committee is doing everything it can do to promote that and foster that thought process and bring that along so we can realize the economic benefits that waterfront brings,” said Beth Byrd, WHDA director, at the July 1 meeting.

“No disagreement here,” replied Jennings then.

Byrd, who said WHDA views the waterfront as an “economic driver” for the city, said the proposal came about after former City Manager Josh Kay developed a business plan for the docks.

“Basically, what we’re trying to do its get that plan kick-started. The purpose of the plan is to restructure the management of the waterfront docks. The enterprise fund would be one way to keep track of funds and expenses associated with the waterfront docks,” Byrd said in a later interview. “We very much feel that the docks should be creating revenue for the city. We think that this plan is right on track for doing that.”

“The maritime wants the docks run more like a business as opposed to a parks-and-rec department (approach),” Byrd said in that interview.

That business plan, on which the council has not acted, calls for increasing boat-slip rentals, creating a dock master’s position and possibly adding a fueling station. It did not specify how much to increase boat-slip rentals.

The maritime committee supports the idea of having fuel pumps at the docks to provide fuel for area boaters and boaters who come to Washington as they traverse the Intracoastal Waterway.

John Rodman, director of the city’s Planning Department, has developed a proposed management plan for the docks. Rodman recommends the following:

• creation of a dockmaster position. The dockmaster would be responsible for activities along the city’s waterfront.

• creation of a waterfront ad-hoc committee to assist the dockmaster and make recommendations regarding management of all matters pertaining to the docks, anchorages and plans for use of the waterfront.

• the committee would be responsible for making recommendations to the city manager and the City Council, through the appropriate management entity, in regards to operations, marketing, and long-range facilities management.

• the docks should be viewed as a business, with profit/loss capabilities. A separate enterprise fund should be considered.

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