City Council makes home for ‘Spirit of Washington’

Published 5:40 am Tuesday, October 21, 2008

By Staff
Cruise boat should be on waterfront in early November
Staff Writer
The “Spirit of Washington” is being readied for its maiden voyage to Washington.
In a scheduled public appearance at the Washington City Council’s regular meeting Monday evening, Tom Miller, with Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, was welcomed by the council to introduce the “Spirit of Washington” dinner cruise boat.
With Mayor Judy Meier Jennette and the council’s blessing, the Washington Waterfront was approved as the dinner cruise boat’s home port. In a resolution on behalf of World Wide Promotions Inc., which owns the 90-foot cruise boat, the council resolved to “welcome the ‘Spirit of Washington’ to our city, and wish the enterprise great success.”
Miller said the boat is currently docked at Jarrett Bay Marina in Morehead City, where it is receiving “cosmetic” touch-ups. It is expected to be on the Washington waterfront by early November, said Miller.
Miller said he expects the boat to “probably draw as many people a year as the (North Carolina) Estuariam.
Prior to the presentation, a declaration of surplus of 16 city-owned vehicles by the council, and the authorization to sell the vehicles through electronic auction using, was made.
During the regular reports from the city’s boards, committees and commissions, a new organization was introduced. The Citizens for Revitalization’s goal is to create revenue for the downtown Washington community. Any and all are welcome to join the organization’s bi-monthly meetings, held every first and third Tuesday of the month at Brown Library’s conference room.
The Havens Gardens Master Plan was also updated during a report by Phil Mobley, director of Washington Parks and Recreation. Two prospective designs were introduced during the presentation. Both designs call for significant road and property changes in the area surrounding the current park.
The reports were followed up by the city’s financial reports. Acting finance director Anita Radcliffe and city manager Jim Smith reported that due to the country’s current financial crisis the city is expected to have an estimated revenue shortfall of $221,000 for the current fiscal year.
Smith said he has “proposed reductions from all departments.”
The city manager is expected to review budget reductions from all the city’s departments and make a budget amendment for the council’s November meeting.
Mayor Pro-Tem Doug Mercer suggested that the city “cut 5 percent out of the budget” as a whole, instead of asking departments to scale back.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, Bobby Roberson, director of planning and development, made a presentation to the council about the U.S. Highway 17 interchange overlay districts. During his presentation, Roberson reviewed the stringent restrictions of the new overlay district, much to the dismay of Mercer.
But after viewing Roberson’s presentation, the council accepted a recommendation by the city’s planning board and approved an ordinance to amend Chapter 27, Article XV, Section 27-161, Special Districts to establish the overlay by a 4-1 vote.
An ongoing concern in downtown Washington was once again addressed during the city manager’s agenda.
Roberson told the council that he has been working on bringing public restrooms to the Washington waterfront area for over five years.
The director of planning and development said he has spoken to various committees and the planning board to help narrow down a list of eight locations. Of the eight locations, the council decided at the meeting that three were feasible and reasonable; location no. 1, location no. 2 and location no. 8.
Location no. 1 would keep the current bathrooms where they are on Stewart Parkway; construction of new facilities, such as showers, would happen around the bathrooms.
Location no. 2 is the city’s public parking lot next to the Washington/Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, and location no. 8 calls for the relocation of an existing building or construction of new facilities in a portion of the parking lot behind the old Belk building.
Councilman Archie Jennings said, “sooner or later, the council has to step forward in a leadership role,” and make a decision on the new facility’s location.