Council seeking new lessee to operate Marietta Harbor after WASCO lease ended

The Marietta Harbor will have no lessee operating the dock rentals and concession stand this boating season.

Marietta City Council learned from Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp on Tuesday that no bidders made a pitch to run the docks and concession stand when council reopened the bidding opportunity at the conclusion of WASCO Inc.’s last lease term.

WASCO Inc. is a private nonprofit that provides adults with disabilities services for job training and social integration. For the last 20 years the nonprofit leased the harbor and kept 100 percent of the profits of seasonal and transient dock space rentals and sale profits from the shop in exchange for completing city bathroom cleaning services.

Between 16 and 17 clients of WASCO were employed each summer at the harbor.

But with a new lease term available beginning in 2019, leadership of the nonprofit approached the city looking to change the terms of the lease, no longer offering cleaning services but willing to send part of the sales profits to the city instead.

Another private for-profit group also voiced interest last fall in potentially leasing the property but by January communicated to city administration they no longer had interest in the facility.

“The administration and council were surprised with receiving no bidders,” said Hupp. “But we’re committed to continuing the relationship with WASCO and their clients in a different capacity.”

Hupp said the administration of seasonal and daily dock rental and the staffing of the concession stand is still being discussed but will be run through the city’s recreation department.

Councilman Geoff Schenkel, who ran council’s Lands, Buildings and Parks Committee meeting for Chairwoman Cindy Oxender due to her illness, said he’s glad the discussion of continued staffing with WASCO is taking place.

“They’re really a plus,” Schenkel said of the WASCO clients. “It brings a good spirit to things there.”

Hupp agreed, saying the administration intends to encourage the continued role of WASCO’s clients at the Harbor.

In other business, council also held a public hearing with Washington-Morgan Community Action to renew a federal application for Community Housing Improvement Program funds Tuesday.

“This program the city has been administering for more than 20 years and we have to reapply every two years,” explained Dawn Rauch, development director with Community Action. “This grant is used for rehab, not cosmetic work on low-income housing that’s owner-occupied.”

She explained eligible projects that have been funded include plumbing, electrical, roof, window and furnace work.

A resolution authorizing the application will be introduced on March 21 at council’s regular business meeting at 7:30 p.m. A second public hearing will be held on April 18 and the application is due on May 3, she said.

Council also revisited discussions concerning city parking lots and is moving to make some west side lot parking spaces rentable at $25 per space, while maintaining two-hour parking in the majority of spaces.

Council also plans to accept two bench swing donations, one to be placed in East Muskingum Park near the gazebo and the other to be placed upstream of Wayne and South Sixth Street along the Ohio River with four memorial trees.

After the completion of restorations of the Armory gymnasium anticipated for this spring, hourly leasing for events will begin this summer.

“The minimum for a one-hour event is $120 which includes a one-hour rate of $50 per hour for rental and $35 per hour for the hour of set-up and the hour of clean-up custodial work afterwards,” said Hupp. “It’s comparable in price to other rentable spaces in the city and covers the cost of labor.”

Hupp also informed council of the successful and singular bidder for the final available room on the ground floor of the Armory. At $600 per month, the 620 square feet of Room 9 will be leased to the Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities as an outpost for their services in the downtown beginning April 1.

“They will have a one-year lease with an option to renew for five years thereafter,” said Hupp.

Council will next meet today at 4:15 p.m. for Streets Committee. Council committee and regular business meetings take place in room 10 of the Armory, 241 Front St.