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Financial concerns scale back marina

Initial plans called for adding as many as 105 slips to Marjorie Park Yacht Basin. Now the most the city can handle is 50.

By RON MATUS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 22, 2003

The wait for a boat slip on Davis Islands just got longer again.

Citing budget concerns, city officials have dramatically downsized plans to expand the aging marina at Marjorie Park Yacht Basin.

Under the administration of former Mayor Dick Greco, the city proposed to renovate and expand the marina from about 60 slips to 105. But last spring, two bids for the project came in well over the $4.7-million budget.

Next month, the city will take new bids but for 50 or so slips.

"It's really a straightforward situation," Mayor Pam Iorio said Tuesday. "There's not enough money in the budget."

Boat owners, including 153 on a city waiting list for boat slips, are sure to be frustrated by the news.

Some Davis Islands residents were tickled. Others scratched their heads.

Cutting the revenue-generating part of the project - the leased slips - "just doesn't make sense," said Vince Palori, past president of the Davis Islands Civic Association.

"You guys are building a 100-unit motel, then you're saying you're only going to furnish 50 of them," he said he told city officials who made a presentation to the association last week.

City officials have talked about renovating the marina for decades.

Besides more boat slips, the recently quashed proposal called for removing dilapidated docks, fixing cracked sea walls and dredging. The nearby Power Squadron building, off Columbia Drive, would be converted into a marina office where visitors could use the bathroom, take a shower and buy snacks.

But the proposal didn't fly. In April, one contractor offered a bid $800,000 higher than budgeted, said public works director Jack Morriss. The other bid was even higher.

"Our estimate was off, obviously," Morriss said.

City officials discussed the possibility of finding another $1-million to keep the proposal intact but decided there were higher priorities.

Iorio wanted money for projects, such as parks and playgrounds, that had a "wider benefit to citizens of Tampa," Morriss said.

The new marina will generate money through slip rentals, fuel sales and sales of items sold at the marina office. Morriss could not immediately provide annual revenue estimates.

The new, slimmer marina proposal includes the same renovations, just fewer boat slips.

"I'm as happy as a pig in slop," said Allan Albert, a member of the Davis Islands Yacht Club who opposed the expansion because of concerns about traffic, parking and cost.

Some residents still have reservations about the conversion of the Power Squadron building, which they hoped might become a recreation center for kids or seniors, said Albert's wife, Lee Medart, who heads a neighborhood plan task force.

The city hopes to award a contract in late fall and begin construction early next year. The work should be complete by next summer.

In the meantime, boat owners will continue to grumble that Tampa does not offer enough boat slips - an issue Iorio said the city needs to address.

"We have to look at whether there is any private sector interest in the expansion of marina slips," she said. "That's something we intend to explore."

- Ron Matus can be reached at 226-3405 or

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