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Mentor Ballot Issue Proposals Call For Changes To Lagoon, Marina

Two ballot initiatives are asking Mentor residents to allow changes to the local marina and lagoons and to loosen restrictions for future changes.

City officials currently need to seek approval from voters to make significant changes to the city-owned marina and lagoons, including the proposed construction of an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant boardwalk an observation deck.

The city received a matching grant of $115,050 for the boardwalk, the first step in a series of development plans. But without voter approval for the additions, Mentor City Councilmember Janet Dowling said, the city would lose that funding.

“It’s very difficult, and the marina is a business,” Dowling said. “Whether it’s municipal or not, it’s still a business competing with private marinas all along eastern parts of Lake Erie.”

One issue on the ballot would allow the city to install the boardwalk and begin work on the observation deck and tower. An additional proposal would lighten the restrictions on what the city can do without voter approval, Dowling said. The change necessary to stay competitive with other marinas, she said.

“There’s a huge resurgence on the lakefront in marinas, and a lot of neighboring marinas are putting in a lot of amenities,” Dowling said.

The city of Mentor also would be able to create more revenue sources through the marina, she said, if every move no longer required voter approval.

“We don’t have a bait store or a boat repair or any food services or a gas stock,” Dowling said. “We just have the two basic [funding sources], dock and storage.”

A similar measure was voted down in 2019. The language was confusing for voters, Dowling said, and caused concerns about the potential sale or leasing of the property. The city attempted to simplify the language this election cycle, she said, and to make it clear that property could not be leased or sold without voter approval. Residential developments also would need to go to a vote, she said.

“It’s a little difficult to run a business with a committee of 17,000 or 18,000 voters having to approve changes,” Dowling said. “You’re not going to see any major improvements or any keeping up with the times and the trends with voting.”

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