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Council renews Yacht Club lease

Despite the objections of one vocal councilman, Oak Harbor Yacht Club recently obtained a 20-year contract with the city of Oak Harbor to lease a valuable piece waterfront land for $2,575 a year.

The property in question, technically called the Catalina Shores Park, is the land where the Yacht Club building currently sits. It is located next to Oak Harbor Marina.

In 1982, the city and the Yacht Club entered into a 20-year contract that allowed the club to build a facility on the city’s land, which had been deeded to the city by the Department of the Interior for a public park facility.

Under the old and new agreement, the Yacht Club — a nonprofit organization — must allow the public to use its facility. The upstairs ballroom at the club, with a scenic view of the water, has became a popular spot for meetings, parties, wedding receptions and the occasional convention. The room holds 173 people and costs $600, which includes a bar and bartender.

At a Tuesday night council meeting, Harbormaster Dave Williams said the Yacht Club also has “peripheral benefits” for the public. “It allows Race Week to happen,” he said, “which puts a lot of money into the Oak Harbor community.”

The money that the club pays covers the city’s cost of the tideland lease fees.

At the council meeting last wee, only Councilman Paul Brewer spoke in opposition to extending the agreement for another 20 years. In an interview Wednesday, he argued that the city should be making some money on the valuable land instead of “giving it away to the good old boys.”

“How many times do you see it (the land) used for other than the exclusive few at the Yacht Club?” he said. “I’m tired of seeing the city give to a few and not provide for the rest.”

Brewer suggested that a nice restaurant, like Anthony’s, might pay much more to lease the site, plus it would bring jobs and tax dollars into the city.

Williams, however, countered that it is not the city’s “intent” to profit from the ownership of park land.

City Attorney Phil Bleyhl said the city first entered into the agreement with the club in order to “foster a good boating community to keep the marina full,” which certainly has been successful. He added that the Yacht Club took a big risk, and had a lot of faith in the city, in building the facility on city land.

In the end, the other council members approved the 20-year agreement without expressing any opinions. Only Brewer voted against it, though Councilwoman Sheilah Crider was gone.

For more information about the Yacht Club, which out the new Web site at www.ohyc.org.

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