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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Smaller can be better if marina is first-class

City Council members are wrestling with how to finance construction of a marina at the old Ingalls shipyard property, which cost the previous administration $2.3 million.

The shortfall between the amount budgeted and the only bid for the first phase comes to about $250,000, a sum that's daunting when city officials are still trying to balance the budget.

The reaction to the over-budget bid is to scale back the project to fit the money available, which may be a prudent approach to getting the marina under construction.

Council members are talking about using riprap instead of the planned retaining wall, and using decades-old existing concrete foundations instead of new walkways.

Throw in the suggestion to sell off part of this coveted land for private development and another to install only the bare necessities and you might get the picture of a facility that will launch boats but not add greatly to the landscape.

The marina is supposed to be a place for national fishing tournaments that bring people and their money to town, a place where families launch their boats, a berth for a commercial riverboat and where families can spend the day fishing, playing and picnicking.

Draconian cuts to get the marina within budget would have long-range repercussions. Tournaments expect first-class facilities and the city bought the land to promote tourism.

People won't use a second-class facility.

Let's not sell any of the little bit of riverfront property that belongs to the public and let's not build another liability.

The proposed marina should be family friendly, full of activity and a focal point for the city.

If we must cut, let's downsize while not sacrificing quality. The money to pay for this facility will come from the $1.50 a room tax that local hotel operators asked the city to levy for such projects.

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