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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lagoons care continues to be a source of controversy

Mentor City Councilman Ron Micchia expressed his displeasure recently about the fact that the Lake County Port Authority isn’t providing funding to assist with the channel dredging at the Mentor Lagoons.

“Didn't the Port Authority take over the channel? Answer = yes. So why no help? No money, no interest; one, both and/or other reasons?"

Micchia noted that the city is considering buying a mighty expensive shovel-dredger to "do this job on our own, reducing annual costs for this project. ... Wondering if the Lake County Port Authority is and/or will contribute to helping pay for it? Think I know the answer already...”

John Loftus, executive director for the Port Authority, was asked to respond to Micchia's comments:

"It’s a bit frustrating to deal with these questions," he said. "The reason the Port Authority took on the lease for the channel was to qualify any improvement work to be eligible for state or federal funding. As the channel is owned by the Mentor-on-the-Lake Yacht Club, a private not-for-profit organization, it cannot qualify for State of Federal Grants.

"On the other hand, the Port Authority is seeking funds from the federal government to make a number of essential improvements. If the Port Authority or city of Mentor or Mentor-on-the-Lake are not in some sort of ownership position (a 50-year lease places us in that role), the project would not qualify for federal funding. The lease places all the ongoing responsibilities for operation and maintenance on the Yacht Club and its partners.

"The other reality is the Port Authority does not have funds available for dredging or buying equipment. Even if we had the money, I am not certain that buying dredging equipment is the most efficient use of funds. In my previous life at the Toledo Port Authority, we owned a dredge and ended up selling it because it was too expensive to operate and maintain. But that is only my opinion on the subject."

We'll see what happens if and when the dredger purchase comes up for a vote.

-- Betsy Scott,


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