Town Requests $427,000 for South Port Yacht Center
By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
March 3, 2014
Cape Charles Town Council voted unanimously February 28 to oversee the spending of $427,000 on harbor improvements for South Port Investors’ Cape Charles Yacht Center. South Port has agreed to pay 25 percent of the cost if the Virginia Port Authority will fund the remainder. No local tax money would be used.
The work includes construction of a 235-foot floating dock/wave attenuator, 100 feet of steel sheet piling, and extensive excavating, grading, stone, and concrete work. Meanwhile, construction of a two-story apartment/storeroom is nearing completion at the Yacht Center, and a travel lift to haul boats is planned to be installed in early April, when South Port partner Eyre Baldwin said they hope to have the boatyard open.
The harbor improvements project is dependent on winning an “Aid to Local Ports” grant from the VPA. The grant application will compete with other requests for a portion of the $1 million available. In response to a question from Council member Frank Wendell, Town Manager Heather Arcos said that other pending grants for the town harbor would not be reduced by the new grant application.
A year ago in January the town and South Port agreed on a more ambitious $1 million project for wave attenuation for the inner harbor. South Port was going to pay half the cost, with the remainder to come from a VPA grant. However, South Port subsequently pulled out of the deal.
South Port later developed the new plan outlined above, but instead of asking the town to sponsor the VPA application, it asked the county. According to South Port Chief Financial Officer Dan Brown (see letter above), the county did not inform South Port until February 26 “of their decision to abort application sponsorship efforts.” Only then did South Port ask the town for help. The application deadline was March 1, requiring an urgent Council meeting with only seven hours to spare.
Northampton Board of Supervisors Chairman Larry LeMond spoke during the public comment portion at last Friday’s special meeting, complaining that a Wavestory had reported that the County “would not” apply for the grant money. In fact, LeMond emphasized, the County “could not” make the application, because the affected land belongs to the Town of Cape Charles.
Eyre Baldwin joined LeMond in faulting the Wave for its report. But neither LeMond nor Baldwin appeared to have read the letter from Dan Brown (shown above) that was included in the Wave story as an attachment. Brown, who is Chief Financial Officer for South Port Investors, wrote February 27 to Town Manager Heather Arcos: “We were put in a difficult position when Northampton County notified us last night of their decision to abort application sponsorship efforts. This was a detrimental event given the March 1, 2014 application due date.” Town officials supplied the Brown-Arcos letter to the Wave to “help explain the urgency of the request” for a special Town Council meeting at short notice, and the Wave merely reported the information as received.