At Tuesday evening’s meeting of Port Clinton City Council, a motion was passed to have the mayor enter into negotiations with Washington Properties. As was the case at Thursday evening’s presentation at the Elks by Mike Rose and David Krebs, there was a lively discussion amongst Council members and with members of the public. When it came to a vote on the motion, three Council members voted for and three voted against. The tie was broken by a “yes” vote from Council President Linda Hartlaub.
As the discussion on the Washington Properties proposal began, Council was given an adjusted layout plan that Krebs provided, reflecting changes on street names and spacing adjustments, along with a statement from Krebs that he was “excited to continue” with plans for the waterfront.
With news of the adjusted plan Councilman Mark Coppeler said that it was good to see that the drawing was amended and that he was excited to take the plan to the citizens of his ward to see what they think. Councilwoman Benko suggested that there be a special meeting on the proposal since there was an amended plan. President of Council Linda Hartlaub asked the Council if anyone had planned any comments about the subject for the meeting.
Councilman Mike Snider answered, “My thoughts in one word: opportunity….We need to utilize our assets to provide a positive outlook…. It is my honor to make a final motion to urge the mayor to take the step to go into talks with Washington Properties at the earliest opportunity.”
Councilwoman Nicole DeFreitas seconded the motion.
Councilwoman Debbie Benko expressed concern that Washington Properties did not have an estimate of the number of condos nor the capacity of the banquet hall. She also said that she and Coppeler had gone door to door surveying voters about the proposal.
Those surveyed said a long term lease should be discussed, that they were not in favor of selling the property. Those polled were divided 54% against and 46% for proposal presented at the Elks on Thursday. Most of those opposed said it was because of lack of information and because the plan was condo-based.
Benko said, “A majority of the people we talked to oppose the Washington Properties proposal, but many are for a development. I propose a compromise. The land must be leased and Mr. Rose must provide a proposal by September 15 and then we go forward…I will vote against going into talks with Washington Properties right now. I am in favor of prolonging the matter to get more information.”
DeFreitas said that she appreciated the efforts of the surveyors but questioned the reliability to door to door surveys. “I have received overwhelming emails in favor of the proposal. From interacting with people, reading emails and over Facebook I would say 95% of the people are in favor of the proposal.”
Councilwoman Kathy Mehl said, “I also surveyed my ward. There is a mix of socio economic people. I talked to people not only in Port Clinton but the surrounding areas. No one wants the city to sell the property, no one wants the development to go outside the 14 acres. People love the idea of fixing up the downtown and the condos really aren’t in favor. People are sad about building on the waterfront but we do have the city beach and Lakeview Park. “
Councilman Ron Aukerman said that he loves parks, that he came from inner city Cleveland and used to travel across the city to enjoy the park, but that when he came here, “Waterworks Park was a parking lot. The Jet moved and it became a gravel parking lot. We’ve all been waiting for someone to come up with something better. We cannot pass up an opportunity to change Port Clinton for the citizens.”
After all the Council members got to speak President Hartlaub opened the floor to comments from residents. The first asked to speak were Margaret Phillips and Gabe Below, who are both soon to take seats on Council.
Phillips: I am against condos and I am against selling the land. I think a special meeting needs to be held to voice what the people believe. Should we negotiate when we don’t know what we’re negotiating about? The proposal needs more green space. A lodge? Yes. Buildings completely wrapped around the waterfront? No.
Below: The wording used in surveys can affect the results of the survey. If your first question is “do you support the city selling Waterworks Park?” the surveyor is setting the tone upfront. Individuals know what answer the surveyor is looking for and it colors the rest of the discussion.
Mrs. Tammy Coppeler: It is easier for people to speak on their own front porch instead of being in front of 300 people. We need a better survey, not in front of so many people.
Roger Smith: Council shouldn’t move in such a hurry. More discussion is needed.
Alva Cortez: I am not in favor. Go out and talk to people.
Jim Weaver: This proposal is a joke. I am a contractor and it’s not to scale whatsoever.
John Coppeler: We have many condo developments already and with these we don’t have year round business. The condos are not the right answer; the fishing lodge isn’t the right answer. I want to see Port Clinton develop and grow and provide for families.
Brooke Kilmer-Araguz: We should get a team together about concerns and meet with Rose to negotiate. I don’t want my kids to be 18 before this is developed. Rose isn’t set in stone; he is waiting to develop a solid plan until he knows to move forward. This plan would be enhancing the park.
Linda Green: There could be other options; maybe we could raise the money.
Pat Heise: There are a select few that buck this every time. Do something before I am dead so I can see what’s going on.
Don Finke: I worked for the park system. The proposal is not a park; it’s a green space only there so they can develop it later.
After the citizens at the meeting voiced their opinions, President Hartlaub brought Snider’s motion to a vote. Mike Snider, Nicole DeFrietas and Ron Aukerman voted “yes”. Kathy Mehl, Debra Benko and Mark Coppeler voted “no”. Hartlaub voted “yes”. Therefore, the next step is for the Mayor to enter discussions with Washington Properties.