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City mulling marina cost cuts

By Martin Burkey
DAILY Staff Writer 340-2441

Decatur officials are mulling several money-saving changes to plans for a sport-fishing marina, including a proposal to sell part of the property for private development.

On Monday, the City Council is expected to reject a $1.9 million bid on renovating the nearly-30-acre former Ingalls shipyard property on Alabama 20. At a work session Monday, the council appeared to agree with city staff who recommended changing the scope of work and re-bidding the project.

Sutton Contracting submitted a $1.9 million bid for the work earlier this month. The city has only $1.65 million for the project, financed through the $1.50-per-night room occupancy tax that local hotel operators agreed to impose on themselves, with the understanding the money would be spent on tourism projects.

That bid didn't even include the floating docks fishermen would need after they launch their boats, Mayor Don Kyle noted. The city expected to have enough left from the $1.65 million to do the work later.

The city could save money by using stone riprap, instead of a retaining wall to secure the bank, acting City Engineer Carl Prewitt said. Prewitt also suggested using for sidewalks the existing concrete pads along the inlet that once supported buildings and cranes instead of ripping them up and building new sidewalks.

Kyle said the Public Works department might be able to use its equipment to clear the property instead of contracting that work. It may also be possible, he added, to pump the water out of an adjacent pond, build the concrete boat ramp and then excavate the land between the pond and the inlet. Damming up the inlet itself to build the boat ramp would likely cost $250,000 alone, he said.

District Three Councilman Gary Hammon asked Kyle to investigate the possibility of selling part of the shoreline on the river near the current Brickyard Landing development to private developers. Kyle agreed to investigate, although he said there might be legal barriers dating from when the federal government deeded the land to the Ingalls barge-building company.

District Five Councilman Ray Metzger, who previously suggested the property might be sold, was unfazed by the hotel tax financing.

He said the city needs to do the minimum necessary to "hang a fishing pole in the water." That should include "running water, porta potties and a place to fish," he said. "Let's not be spending on all this other stuff."

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