News and Tribune

November 16, 2013

OUR OPINION: The marina: Aren’t we all in agreement?


— It’s gotten to the point that even when the Jeffersonville administration and city council agree on a proposed project, they disagree on details it will take to execute the plan.

The most recent case in point is the proposed downtown marina. This undertaking — meant to overhaul the city’s boat docks downtown — was announced in late May by Mayor Mike Moore.

At the council’s Nov. 4 meeting, members voted 5-3 to not fund the estimated $2.2 million in work from tax increment financing coffers. At least not yet.

Following that vote, the council voted 5-3 on a resolution — with the three nay votes of Bryan Glover, Zach Payne and Matt Owen being the same as the first vote — for the city’s redevelopment commission to continue with the marina plans, seek required permits, but stop short of beginning actual construction on the plan until a full, detailed proposal is delivered to the council.

No funding was dedicated to the project under the city’s adopted resolution.

City council members who weren’t ready to fund the project have said they only received definitive plans for the project at the Nov. 4 meeting and didn’t feel comfortable dedicating the TIF funds at that point.

The mayor has said the council has, in effect, killed the project with the first vote, and this week he sent a letter to the handful of boaters docked at the marina that they’ll have to vacate the docks by Nov. 30 because of safety concerns there.

As all this maneuvering takes place, the process to get the OK for the project from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues. Public comment on the plan is open until Dec. 2 and Jorge Lanz, president of Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz, Inc., who presented the details on the marina plan to the council, said it would be about 30  to 45 days after the public comment period closes before a permit could be issued.

The corps said it can issue permits without a funding mechanism is in place.

We understand it’s the council’s statutory duty to be financial steward for Jeffersonville. But now that the plans are public — we have a copy at the News and Tribune office — the line of “we can’t approve this because we don’t know the mayor’s plans” isn’t going to float.

The complaint about a lack of communication from the mayor’s office has been a common one from some council members since Moore took office in 2012. We’re confident they aren’t totally unfounded.

But, communication is a two-way exercise, and now council members have detailed plans for the marina — the ones sent to the corps for permit approval — in their hands. There also is consensus that the marina needs to be renovated, and it is something that can be an asset to Jeffersonville’s waterfront.

So, here’s a novel idea: The council and the mayor’s office sit down and work out the remaining details. This is something both sides agree on, so let’s get it done, for the benefit of the city’s residents and for the boat dock renters, who are at present left in limbo.

What would be wrong with approving the funding at the next council meeting Monday contingent on the corps issuing the permits?

Let’s have the marina service as a first new step at working together instead of pulling apart.

After all, you agree a new marina is best of the city, right?

— The News and Tribune editorial board is comprised of Publisher Bill Hanson, Editor Shea Van Hoy, Assistant Editor Chris Morris and Assistant Editor Jason Thomas. Responses can be sent to shea.vanhoy@newsandtribune.com