For several years, the Cape Charles Town Council has been exploring outsourcing the management of the town harbor to private firms. In February, the town released an RFP which resulted in three proposals. After review, the town has decided to explore further the proposal submitted by the Cape Charles Yacht Center.
At issue is how to increase traffic to the harbor. As Councilman Buchholz noted, while the town has been on an upward trajectory, the harbor has been trending downward for the last four years.
Thursday, Town Council held a harbor stakeholders public input session.
While the majority of speakers were generally in favor of a letting the Yacht Center give it a go, there were still some concerns.
Cost and fees, and whether the Yacht Center would have to increase the dock costs in order to stop the bleeding was voice by several speakers, some that worried town residents would lose their discount.
While the Yacht Center gave a lukewarm assurance that town residents would still have the discount, as was noted, nothing has been decided yet.
Resident David Gay voiced concerns that turning the harbor over to the Yacht Center would turn it into a large boat facility at the expense of smaller boat owners.
A benefit of the proposal is that the town would still own the harbor, while day to day management would be owned by the Yacht Center. However, taxpayers would still be on the hook for major maintenance and capital improvement projects.
Councilwoman Tammy Holloway commented that the harbor budget does not have any monies for marketing. The proposal by the Yacht Center includes a major effort designed for branding and marketing.
Yacht Center representatives stated that the major goal is to brand and market the harbor, and Cape Charles together as a unique, boating destination.
Town Council will continue to review the pros and cons of the proposal.
“I am still in the listening and analysis phase of this,” Councilman Paul Grossman said.