The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

July 17, 2012

Fulton seeks to upgrade marina

By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer

FULTON, Ill. — Fulton city officials and marina committee representatives are working toward creating a better marina.

The marina has remained an “eyesore” tangled in private ownership for the last 20 years, city leaders have said, and current operator Pete Harkness announced his resignation, leaving one of the city’s biggest assets in question.

“We need someone to run the marina, whether it be another individual or the city,” Marina Committee Member Pat Pollard said.

Harkness purchased many of the items at the marina, such as the docks, the boat lift and the semi truck.

This leaves the city with a big decision to make. If no agreement is established, all of these items could be lost.

Harkness is willing to sell the items, but currently the prices are unknown and are expected to be very expensive, yet the quality is questionable.

“Most of the items are used, some of it is on the verge of junk,” Pollard said. “But where it sits right now it is very expensive to move.”

The docks are better than many surrounding marinas, but require maintenance, according to Pollard.

After the committee made the recommendation to get an appraisal, the council approved a motion to give the committee permission to get bids for an appraisal of the marina’s assets.

If the city took over ownership of the marina, the city could improve the area as well as rake in more revenue, according to the committee. Right now the city gets less than $4,000 of the money coming in from the marina, according to Pollard. The rest of it is going into the owner’s pocket.

“Yes, it’s nice to not have to maintain the marina, but you’re also not getting any income from it,” Pollard said.

Alderman Howard Van Zuiden said he was cautious about taking on ownership.

“These things take a lot of money to fix,” Van Zuiden said. “It has been a rough 20 years dealing with the marina.”

Boat owners have approached the committee saying they would be interested in volunteering to help out at the marina if it was owned by the city, according to Alderman Randy Boonstra, also a committee member.

“They want to help make the marina look better,” Boonstra said.

Committee member Mike Ottens pointed out that they were only at the meeting to get an appraisal, ownership could be discussed after. Several individuals have also approached the committee with interest in taking over.

No matter what happens, the committee is working hard to improve the area as much as possible.

“The marina is a jewel of an asset, but right now we have the worst boat ramp in the area,” Pollard said. “We need to better use and improve the area.”

Other actions:

• Aldermen approved a motion to make changes to 12th Street south of 16th Avenue into Drive’s Park. After concerns of traffic during games, Public Works Director Dan Clark looked into changes to reduce the problems. There will no longer be parking on the north and west side, the speed limit of 20 miles per hour will be enforced and more handicapped parking will be put in.

• Bids were awarded for several Capital Improvement Projects. A bid of $45,460 was awarded to Allini of Bellevue for wastewater system improvements including sanitary sewer cleaning and televising. A bid of $424,965.80 was awarded to Twin City Construction in Sterling, Ill., for various street projects.