Possible Purchase Of Tower Marine Off The Table - At Least For Now - Say City Of Douglas Officials
Douglas City Council continues it search to find the right person to join them in public service following the sudden resignation of Eric Smith from city council.
To that end, it will hold a special meeting next Monday, December 11, to interview two candidates to fill the vacancy.
The candidates are John Kelly, a newcomer to local government who lost his bid for council in the 2015 November election, and Gerald Schmidt, former council member who did not seek re-election during the same election cycle after serving his two-year term.
Local resident Howard Vanderbeck also submitted an application to take Smith’s place on council, but later withdrew his name from consideration.
The interview meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the public is welcome to attend, say Douglas officials.
Smith has had a long history of run-ins with law enforcement, including during his time on council.
Smith recently resigned from his post amid complaints from several people that he passed bad checks. Authorities have been investigating the matter, but have not as yet filed any criminal complaint against Smith.
Last year, Smith pleaded guilty in Allegan County District Court to breaking and entering/illegal entry of a female neighbor’s home. Notwithstanding that criminal conviction, Smith did not resign his seat from city council.
In other city business, Douglas officials announced Monday they are no longer interested in purchasing Tower Marine marina because owner RJ Peterson has been “unresponsive” to their questions and requests for information.
Both parties have accused each other of working in bad faith—that the other is not cooperative and creates obstacles.
“I am sending you this letter to confirm that it is my intention to sell Tower Marine for the purpose of establishing a public marina in the Saugatuck Harbor,” Peterson wrote in a letter to the city dated Dec. 17, 2015.
“The Saugatuck Harbor is the centerpiece, and principal asset of, our great tourist destination community.
“Establishing viable public access and additional marina facilities in the harbor is critical to the sustainability of our community,” he stated in his letter.
The city is preparing a letter in response.
“We want to inform him that we withdraw our offer to purchase the marina because he has failed on numerous occasions through last year and before—this is detailed in bullet points in the letter we are preparing—to respond to our intent,” Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere told The Local Observer Wednesday morning.
However, the city is not completely doing away with the idea of a possible purchase.
“We would be willing to be part of a community…if others are willing to step up to the plate to be that community, to purchase Tower Marine,” said LeFevere.
That community consists of the other Tri-Community municipalities: the City of Saugatuck and Saugatuck Township.
Peterson says he agrees with Douglas’ notion of a community, telling the Observer, “It should be operated (the proposed public marina) similar to Holland’s Tulip City Airport which is owned by Holland, Holland Township and Zeeland.”