2018-05-31 / News

Extension inked at Fort Wetherill marina

The boating association that leases the Fort Cove marina will remain there until at least 2030.

The town councilors during their May 21 meeting unanimously approved a 10-year lease with the Fort Wetherill Boat Owners Association. The contract includes a five-year option that would extend the agreement through 2035.

The boaters approached the councilors in August about a possible lease extension. Although two more years remain on the current lease, the association wants to lock down a long-term agreement before they begin investing in the property. The boaters are planning a six-figure facelift to the boat basin and its “horrible, rickety ramps,” according to attorney Mark Liberati, association president.

The boaters are paying $31,827 to lease the property this season. That figure increases to $32,782 in 2019 and $33,765 in 2020, which is the final year of their current lease.

The first year of the extension will cost the boaters $34,440 with a 2-percent annual escalator through 2025. The escalator increases to 3 percent in the final five years, resulting in a $43,217 payment in 2030. The escalator will remain at 3 percent annually if the five-year option is exercised, topping out at $50,100 in 2035.

The association, which operates 42 slips, has leased the marina since the 1970s. According to Liberati, the longtime relationship stems from stringent restrictions on the property, which makes it challenging for business ventures.

“Leasing it for commercial use is extremely difficult to do,” he said during the August meeting.

The boat basin, located around the southern bend of Bull Point, abuts the state’s fisheries center at 3 Fort Wetherill Road. While the marina is state land, there is a federal proviso that limits the property to recreational use. The only reason the docks exist is because the boat owners were given permission to extend the pier from the bulkhead into the cove. That southern wall, which marks the property line, is owned by the state. According to Liberati, the benefits reaped from the town lease are minimal.

“All we get are the riparian rights to access the water along the riprap on the west side of the cove,” he said.

— By Tim Riel

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