Peterson, Douglas Officials Continue To Accuse The Other Of Bad Faith In Possible Marina Sales' Discussions
A small quarrel about the biggest marina in the area took place at Monday’s Douglas City Council meeting, with the marina owner asserting city officials have shown little interest in having the city purchase the marina for the public’s interest, and officials striking back arguing the owner is full of “fiction” and is being uncooperative.
“I don’t want to be forced to sell to (developers of) condos,” Tower Marine owner RJ Peterson told the council during the public comment section of Monday’s agenda.
He also read from a prepared statement, saying, “Tower Marine is definitely a willing seller, but to date neither (Douglas City Council Manager) Bill LeFevere nor any council members have sat down with me to negotiate a sales agreement plus the council has never agreed to hold a ‘harbor workshop.’”
Peterson contends the city has rejected the help it needs from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in negotiating a buy-sell deal for the marina, as, he argues, is demonstrated by communications between the city and the DNR.
“If the City of the Village of Douglas does not want to discuss the harbor issues with (DNR Programs and Grants Unit Manager) Bill Boik, then I hope that the City of Saugatuck and the Kalamazoo Harbor Authority will extend an invitation to meet to discuss the future of the Saugatuck Harbor.”
Douglas officials emphatically deny ever being uncooperative with Peterson and maintain they have had plenty of meetings with Tower Marine about a possible purchase.
“This is just a fiction,” LeFevere said about Peterson’s comments. “There is nothing further for me to discuss until the there is a discussion with a marina owner that is willing to sell his marina.”
LeFevere went on to say Peterson has completely “misrepresented” the communications the city has had with the DNR.
Douglas Mayor Jim Wiley chimed in, telling Peterson, “A lot of this stuff is not appropriate to discuss in a public meeting.”
Asked why he thought the State of Michigan should get involved, Peterson told The Local Observer, “How can you engage in buy-sell negotiations without first understanding the nature of what you are getting into? There is a proper procedure.
“The state can help the city in this process, in working out the specifics of what a public marina really consists of and what public grants could possibly be available, but the city is not interested.”
The city sued Peterson in 2013 claiming the marina owner had not yet submitted all the necessary paperwork showing how he planned on grading and landscaping his dredges spoils facility along Blue Star Highway, which Peterson was forced to make smaller.
Peterson contended the city always had what it needed regarding documents to properly address the dredges spoils site and deems the city’s move against his facility as an impediment to the overall community’s goal: to fix the silt-filled Kalamazoo harbor lake that has been hindering boat and other recreational usage.