SANDUSKY, OHIO – CALL TO ACTION: Waterfront Public Land At Risk
The following article was written by Dr. Skip Oliver and Tim Schwanger of Save Our Shoreline Parks. In an effort to support the public’s right to the waterfront, please use the information at the end of this article to contact the necessary authorities on this immediate issue.
A little known component of the recent agreement between the city of Sandusky and the Sandusky Yacht Club would transfer control of the city’s remaining water rights in the Surf’s Up basin to the Yacht Club. This would not be in the interests of the community, and would be contrary to both local and state regulations and laws. We call upon the new Sandusky city commission, as well as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Corps of Engineers to reject this proposal. The Yacht Club plans to dock an additional 21 large vessels (each up to 60 feet long) in the area just to the west of the Meigs Street pier and north of Surf’s Up. This area is now owned by the state of Ohio and leased to the city.
One Tall Ship skipper has testified his craft will no longer be able to use the Meigs Street pier if the SYC dock expansion plan is implemented. Similarly, when the Tall Ships are once again on the Great Lakes next summer, we may be faced with the prospect that Sandusky will have little or no room to dock them. An important part of our nautical heritage is being endangered by the city-SYC deal.
Furthermore, a score of 60-foot vessels in the Surf’s Up basin will radically alter the view from the public park at that location. Most boats of that size are fully two stories high, and many are three stories. There can be little doubt they will obstruct the public’s view of Sandusky Bay.
In the past, the city recognized this problem and addressed it clearly. In April 2000 the Yacht Club was informed that, “It is the desire of the Sandusky City Commission to prohibit any type of boat dock, floating or otherwise, along the westerly side of the Meigs Street pier and on the northerly portion of the wave action pool property.”
There are other troubling aspects of the Yacht Club proposal as well. It runs contrary to both the Sandusky city code (Section 553.35), as well as state regulations designed to protect public shoreline areas from commercial encroachment. SYC may be able to make as much as $150,000 per year by renting out these new docks, but what will the people of Sandusky get?
But a win-win solution is available. Battery Park Marina has a number of docks not currently being rented.
It would not be difficult for Battery Park to sublease to the Yacht club part of its basin area — perhaps the east side of the Meigs Street pier. Minor adjustments to the dock plan could be made to accommodate large pleasure craft. At a stroke, the Yacht Club would get its new docks, Battery Park Marina would have all (or nearly all) of its docks rented, and the citizens of Sandusky and Ohio would retain their shoreline property rights. The point is that with a little imaginative thinking, everyone can come out ahead without sacrificing our waterfront recreation resources.
This community values the Sandusky Yacht Club. It is an integral part of our nautical heritage. But the give-away of the community’s Surf’s Up water rights is just not a good idea. Although the Yacht Club claimed in its November newsletter that the deal is “done,” we beg to differ.
Please contact the Sandusky City commission (419-627-5850), the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Office of Coastal Management (419-626-7982), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (716-879-4474) to register your comments. We ask you to join us in politely insisting that the Yacht Club’s dock expansion plan be scrapped. Request both full public hearings and environmental impact reviews.
Sandusky’s city shoreline is already nearly all in private hands. We have an obligation to protect what little remains.