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City asks DNR for the most for the least

The City Council, after several months of indecision concerning Eagle Harbor’s immediate future, has sent a clear message to the Department of Natural Resources: Give us the maximum number of residential spaces allowed in our open-water marina for the minimum amount of cost.

With the majority of the council in favor of saving the harbor’s traditional liveaboard community, its ad hoc committee was expected to deliver that message to the state agency on Friday.

The city established the actual size of the trapezoid-shaped marina two weeks ago and is under pressure from DNR to finalize its lease with the state by the end of August. Negotiations have been on-going with DNR, but it was unclear exactly what the council wanted.

The previous council has approved a 16-vessel option (12 transient, four residential) last October, but slowly it became obvious that the new council didn’t want a lease that would lead to evictions of a community that includes an estimated 16-20 people living on boats.

Besides the small number of residential buoys allowed under the first lease proposal, the main problem was that the lease costs for the buoyed vessels were potentially so high that few, if any, of the liveaboards could afford to live in the harbor. And the obvious outcome was not something many community members wanted to see happen.

One of the key issues discussed at length during Wednesday’s council meeting was the need to ensure that the city could afford the size and type of marina it seemed to want. Then Mayor Bob Scales said: “We want the lowest lease rates for the maximum number of residents. We can’t adopt a plan we can’t afford. There are many other costs and options involved, but DNR will know what we’re trying to achieve overall.”

Planning Director Kathy Cook, who has been discussing the lease with a DNR administrator, said the agency wants an agreement on a five-year lease and was hesitant to discuss an annual amendment on the size or number of total spaces allowed in the marina.

She was scheduled to meet with DNR representatives Friday to deliver the council’s latest message.

Cook said the possibility of placing some pilings in the marina, which would be much less expensive to lease than the buoys, were simply one of many options for the city to consider going forward.

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