Weigh all options in future of the harbor

There may be a big decision for the city to make soon regarding its harbor space, and we hope more is considered than simple financial implications.

For 20 years, WASCO, a nonprofit that provides employment opportunities to adults with disabilities, has operated the Marietta Harbor. The harbor offers dock space and fuel for boaters, rental pontoon boats and bicycles as well as a shop that sells fishing and boating supplies, T-shirts, sunglasses and more. There are also picnic tables and a full snack bar.

The next five-year lease is coming up and there is likely to be competition for it from a group of local residents who want to operate a business there.

New business ventures are certainly a plus in the community but there are other considerations here. The experience WASCO clients have in operating this venture is invaluable. There may be less profit but there are big rewards. We would hate to see them lose the experience and for those who patronize the harbor to lose their interaction with the WASCO representatives so many enjoy.

Those with the business venture, so far represented at city meetings by Foam Garage owner Chip Coffin, said they may be willing to employ some WASCO clients, so maybe there’s a happy medium to be found.

However, Coffin has also said some of the changes they may want to make at the harbor include raising fuel and dock rental prices and possibly offering alcohol sales.

Right now, the harbor is a very family-friendly stop for ice cream and souvenirs, nestled right by the end of the Historic Harmar Railroad Bridge where plenty of local residents and visitors walk and ride bikes. It may be the first stop for out-of-town boaters and a first impression of the city.

It offers a good service to boaters at a reasonable price. Proprietors of the for-profit business should consider how the changes they would bring would contribute to the appeal of Marietta’s downtown and the harbor space — and offer the same charm and heart that exists now.

We know filling the city’s coffers is always a challenge. In this case, however, we think there are more important things to consider than just the bottom line.

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