Plan: Buy marina, limit public access
Port Authority needs to give final approval
BY KATE BRENNAN
PORT CANAVERAL -- The same developer who has plans to convert Cocoa's only public-access marina into a private, membership-only yacht club has proposed a similar concept for a Port Canaveral marina, port commissioners said.
The same developer who is trying to convert the Whitley Bay Marina to a members-only yacht club presented plans for the purchase and redesign of Scorpionís New Port Marina at Port Canaveral. Image by Rik Jesse, FLORIDA TODAY
Last month, Dream Harbors, LLC, a Naples-based developer, presented its concept plans for the possible purchase and redevelopment of Scorpion's New Port Marina in Port Canaveral to the Canaveral Port Authority.
The proposed plan -- which was unanimously approved by Port Canaveral Commissioners -- is estimated to cost $10 million to $15 million and includes the elimination of several existing buildings, the construction of new dry storage facilities, and the creation of a private yacht club, according to commissioners.
However, John Swanson, manager of Dream Harbors, said that as far as a yacht club is concerned, "I have no concept of anything like that."
In late September, Dream Harbors bought the Whitley Bay Marina in Cocoa, renamed it Whitley Bay Yacht Club, and made plans to convert it into a members-only organization, limiting, possibly even eliminating, public access. Because the state owns the submerged land over which the marina's docks are built, the developer must get approval from the state to change the current public-access requirement. It's an approval Dream Harbors has not yet received.
In Port Canaveral, things work differently.
The Canaveral Port Authority -- and not the state -- owns the whole port, including the land submerged under the water off Scorpion's New Port Marina. The commissioners decide the fate of those submerged lands by granting leases -- usually long-term leases -- to businesses.
So far, Dream Harbors' preliminary plan, as well as its request for a 50-year lease, has been met with approval by the port's commissioners.
"It cleans up the area for one thing," said Raymond Sharkey, vice chairman of the Port Canaveral Commissioners. "It puts new facilities in there that will improve the area. And there's talk about putting a restaurant in there, so it's going to make it a better place. We want to make it (the port) an attraction for all of Brevard and even for people who come from Orlando."
If Dream Harbors buys the marina, it will be required to present final plans to the Port Authority before obtaining a lease to operate. But how the marina operates -- whether it's a public-access outfit or an exclusive, membership-only club -- is not a concern of the Port Authority, Commissioner Rodney Ketcham said.
"We do not interfere with the management of their business. We do not stand on the sidelines and say 90 percent of your marina has to be public,'" he said. "If they choose to have a private marina, then that's their choice. Once we lease it to them, they can run it however they want to."
At this rate, there won't be any public access marinas in Fl in 5 years.
The state of FLorida is giving away public underwater land leases to private yacht clubs.
We're glad we own (2) H2Ofront homes with a 10,000 lbs boat lift @ each one.
Last edited by Dean Ferry; 01-05-2005 at 08:12 AM.
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