Guest Editorial By Mike Snider, Port Clinton City Councilman

“A struggling community dies because of the ambitions of its youth;” author unknown. 

Doesn’t it seem as if Port Clinton is the poster child for this statement?

The reality is, every small community in America is experiencing many of the same issues as PC.  Likewise, each small community has something at its disposal that it can utilize to make itself a better community.  Waterworks Park is a perfect example of something we have that has been used again and again to make Port Clinton better.  Not because of what it is today but the fact that over the 175+/- years that Port Clinton has been in existence the area we know today as Water Works Park has itself been transformed repeatedly.  Each time this transformation has been undertaken to meet the ever changing needs of the citizens of this community. 

I wonder if in the 1800s there were signs in yards that read “SAVE THE PORTAGE RIVER”.  Had the river not been diverted; had the swamp that was left never been filled; had the two ball field never been installed; had the tennis court and shuffleboard courts never been built; had the skate park never transformed from the tennis/basketball court; had the cinder parking area never been paved; had the sand volleyball pit never been installed; had none of this ever happened we wouldn’t be talking about Water Works Park as we know it today. 

However, all of those things, and many more too numerous to list actually did happen.  Why did they happen?  I’d imagine they occurred to meet the ever changing needs of the citizens of this community. Today we are doing nothing different than the community leaders and citizens before us.  We are utilizing this space to help make Port Clinton a better place. 

Now, a great deal has been made about this word “condo”.  I’d like to take a few paragraphs to give you my take on this word. However, before I do this I need to make two preemptive statements:

1. Anything said in this or any other forum (including my comments) are purely speculation at this point, as we don’t have any concrete facts about the development; only conceptual ideas and conceptual drawings.  The purpose of Council’s actions on August 13th were to allow the Mayor to work out an agreement with Mr. Rose which Council will then act upon once the facts are hammered out. 

2. I’d like to address the fact that every proposal for development of the 14 acres of commercially zoned land has had a condo component.

Why is that?

First of all, any development needs $$$$ - both startup funds and continuous cash flow to operate. The best way to raise this money with minimal risk for all involved is through the sale of condos. 

Please keep in mind a condo is merely a defined space within a larger structure. In this area alone we have storage condos, hotel condos, boat condos and jet condos. Condos can be a permanent residence, time-share, second home and/or vacation rentals in addition to storage space, hotel room etc.

I’d imagine the average guest sleeping at the Island House or dining at 1812 Food & Spirits has no clue (nor do they care) they are spending the night or dining in a condo. The condo is merely there as a tool to accomplish a higher goal; both for the success of the development.

I think everyone recognizes Kalahari has a very successful and very lucrative enterprise. All of what you see at that expanse of development on S.R. 250 – and for that matter the property tax, sales tax, income tax and bed tax generated as a result of that establishment being in existence - is a direct result of the “condos” that are part of that endeavour.  The “condos” at Kalahari are a purpose built space that is sold to an investor hoping to get a return by renting the space to others (i.e. guests at Kalahari); As a result of the “condo” there is a lowered overall risk for the development which helps to insure its long-term success.

As a result of condos at Kalahari, so much positive outflow has been generated for that region. Huron and Perkins School Districts have benefitted from Kalahari’s existence. So have the numerous restaurants and retail places that have sprouted up because of Kalahari’s existence.

I guess the same could also be said about the Island House.  Without the “condo” element I would believe that cornerstone of downtown would be vacant and yet another blighted mark for PC.  Instead it now offers light and energy to our downtown.

Here I am speculating – but what you may not know is that I’ve worked in the condo biz in this market for 19+ years so I’m speculating based on a bit more experience and understanding of “condo” than the average individual.  The “condos” at WWP aren’t going to look and feel like the LeMarin Condos on Catawba or The Shores Condos on Perry Street. Yes, they will be “condos” but they will be a purpose built condo which will allow so much positive outflow.

The term “condo” has somehow been tagged with a negative connotation. Yes, condos like LeMarin and/or The Shores should not be placed on the 14 acres – but at the same time I do believe that “condos”, in the broader definition, absolutely do have a place in this development and not only should they be part of the overall development plan – they need to be if a development is going to happen.

So, why am I so confident that Mr. Rose isn’t going to build a LeMarin and/or Shores type condo?  I’m not.  However, what I heard from Mr. Rose is that he’s investing a tremendous amount of his own money in downtown by acquiring currently rundown buildings and rehabbing them.  If he’s going to see a return on that money he needs to have a greater volume of people in downtown than we see now.  A Kalahari/Island House type condo–with the other elements he’s discussed-should provide the tools to generate the foot traffic necessary to bring downtown PC back to life.

I can’t wait to see how the negotiations with Mr. Rose play out so we can all learn together how his plan for the 14 acres and downtown revitalization coalesce.

Thanks for taking the time to listen to my thoughts on the matter and I hope you enjoyed the Tall Ships events.  A great many people invested a great deal of time, energy and resources in this event.  I can’t wait to help plan the 300th Anniversary Celebration!

Mike Snider

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