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Planning essential

September 9, 2012
Frances O’Neill, Gwinn , The Mining Journal

To the Journal editor:

On Aug. 27, the Marquette City Commission heard from citizens concerned with the lack of progress in renovating the Presque Isle Marina. They were told by the commissioners that work on Presque Isle must be prioritized within the context of larger, as yet unspecified, plans for the entire lakeshore.

While two phases for the renovation are in the planning stage, anything remotely resembling the complete restoration of the marina must await the prioritizing process.

To throw the marina restoration into the pot with other lakeshore plans would seem to ignore a fundamental principle of fiscal responsibility: that is, to pay down one's debts before incurring additional indebtedness.

I would ask those planners considering where to prioritize the restoration of Presque Isle Marina, how responsible is it to suggest major new projects when a large debt is owed Presque Isle and its boaters who yearly pay increasing slip fees with no apparent return in marina maintenance?

How responsible would it be to give so low a priority to the marina repair that demolition becomes the only option? Such an option would incur significant expense not offset by slip rentals and transient fees and would not reduce the indebtedness.

Of course, I do not refer to the indebtedness one finds in a city's ledgers. But indebtedness is there, glaringly evident in the unconscionable neglect the marina has suffered over the years.

When the marina was built 41 years ago, local funding accounted for 10 percent of its cost. The rest was underwritten by state and federal agencies with the understanding that the city would maintain the marina.

The city agreed to that maintenance obligation in the written contract formalizing the transfer of funds for the marina construction. The contract specifies that the city will maintain the marina.

Period. There is no "unless or until" clause, excusing the city from its obligation or delaying its implementation while future projects are considered. That contract implies an ethical indebtedness that could only be paid off if the marina were properly maintained.

I urge those involved in prioritizing the city's lakeshore projects to put the complete restoration of Presque Isle Marina at the top of that list. Pay off the obligation already incurred before undertaking new ones. It is what we expect of responsible officials serving the public trust.



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