Deserving of a chance

Published 6:38 am Wednesday, June 25, 2008

By Staff
If everything goes according to schedule, the Spirit of Washington will make its “maiden” voyage in less than two months.
The Spirit of Washington is an 85-foot-long ship that Washington businessman A.G. Swanner plans to use to provide dinner cruises and other excursions on the Pamlico River. Swanner has provided such cruises before, back in the mid-1990s with the Pamlico Queen.
According to a schedule presented to the Washington City Council several weeks ago, the Spirit of Washington was expected to arrive in Beaufort County today, but later reports indicate it will arrive about a week late. Modifications to the vessel, which will be made in Beaufort, are expected to take about a month, according to the schedule, which is subject to change.
During a presentation to the City Council about the Spirit of Washington, Toni Cooley, a spokeswoman for Swanner, said plans call for presenting the vessel to the public at Downtown Washington on the Waterfront’s third-annual Pickin’ on the Pamlico, which is set for Aug. 16. The tentative schedule for the vessel calls for it to take its “maiden” voyage a week later.
Those behind bringing the Spirit of Washington are asking the City Council for access to Washington’s waterfront, not only to load and unload passengers and supplies but for a berth for the boat when it is not being used. Of course, an agreement between the city and Spirit of Washington owners will have to be reached, an agreement that provides the vessel with what it needs as far as access to the city’s waterfront and provides the city the protection it needs.
Adding the Spirit of Washington to the economic mix of the city, county and region should result in the economies of the city, county and region improving. Spirit of Washington patrons will be coming to Washington, meaning many of them will spend money while they are here. The vessel will need supplies and services, which should be provided by area businesses. The vessel and its cruises provide another reason for tourists to visit Washington.
The City Council should carefully consider working with Swanner to bring the Spirit of Washington to Washington’s waterfront. The council should make sure that any agreement between the city and Swanner is in the best interest of the city’s taxpayers and residents.
That’s an excellent summary of what the Spirit of Washington can accomplish for the city.
The proposal is a sensible one with much promise. There is one thing required for that promise to become reality.
The Spirit of Washington must have the support of the area’s residents and business community. Without them, the venture is doomed. The Spirit of Washington can be much more than just a tourist attraction. It can be an important addition to the area’s economy.
With the way the nation’s economy is headed, the area’s economy can use all the help it can get.
At the very least, the Spirit of Washington deserves a chance to prove it can be a contributor to the economy.