July 3, 2013

City chooses Navtours to develop marina


PLATTSBURGH — City of Plattsburgh councilors chose Navtours as the company they wish to work with in developing a key waterfront site.

“I feel that Navtours is offering a unique service that we don’t have and will expand on those services,” Councilor Mark Tiffer said at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Navtours and Plattsburgh Boat Basin both submitted plans for developing the waterfront at the end of Dock Street.

Both companies offered boating, recreation and food services at a city marina.

The Lake City Local Development Corp. recommended Navtours be the preferred developer after hearing presentations from both businesses and reviewing their plans.

Navtours is based in Quebec and the Bahamas and has provided boat tours on the lake for the past 15 years. Plattsburgh Boat Basin has been in operation next to Dock Street Landing for the past 17 years, running a marina and the Naked Turtle Restaurant.

Beth White, Navtours base manager in Plattsburgh, told councilors Tuesday night that Navtours is in a great position to provide service to local waterfront enthusiasts as well as visitors.

“The economies of Quebec and New York have always been linked and Navtours has an interest in continuing this great tradition of sharing commerce,” she said.

Plattsburgh Boat Basin’s Arthur “Sonny” Spiegel said his outfit already has the infrastructure and equipment to run a marina, and their proposal would cost the city less.

“Please think long and hard before making a decision that another group will have to live with long into the future,” Spiegel said.

Mayor Donald Kasprzak had said on Monday that he felt the council should perhaps delay any decision because a new mayor and council will be taking office after the November election.

Councilor Mark Tiffer (D-Ward 2), who is running for mayor, offered to table the decision for a few weeks so the council could get more information on the proposals.

Corporation Counsel John Clute said that if the decision is delayed for any significant length of time it would affect next boating season.

“If you wait on this it won’t happen in 2014, and I think it’s unfair to keep two people (developers) on a string,” Clute said.

He added that negotiating a final deal with the preferred developer and obtaining any necessary environmental or building permits will take time.

“This is not a simple or quick process,” he said.

The mayor said that if the council was going to table the item it should be tabled until after the election, otherwise they should vote. He said the council has had about a year to consider the proposals and make up their mind. 

“To table it for one or two weeks is ridiculous and not fair,” he said.

Councilor James Calnon (I-Ward 4), who is also running for mayor, reminded the council that the vote was not a final decision and that whoever they chose as the preferred developer still has to fine-tune their proposal to meet the city’s needs and regulations.

“This is only starting the development process,” he said.

“It is not the final deal so we are not necessarily binding the hands of the future council.”

Calnon also said that he felt Navtours might be better at getting people from land to the lake while Plattsburgh Boat Basin might be better handling boats already on the lake.

But while the two businesses complemented each other, he said, they would still be competing, which is good for the consumer.

Councilor Timothy Carpenter (D-Ward 1) tried to offer an amendment that would allow the city to pursue a development deal with both companies, but it was struck down by a 4-to-2 vote with only George Rabideau (R-Ward 3) offering support.

Tiffer’s motion to choose Navtours as the preferred developer was approved by a 4-to-2 count with Calnon, Chris Case (D-Ward 5) and Chris Jackson (D-Ward 6) joining him in support and Carpenter and Rabideau voting no.

Rabideau said he preferred Plattsburgh Boat Basin because they were local and have been doing business here successfully for 17 years.

Following the meeting, White said Navtours will meet with city department heads to figure out the next steps.

“I think there is untold potential with this site,” she said.

“This could be the crown jewel of Plattsburgh and the gateway for visitors from all over.”

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