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Council discusses Mooring Field, farmers market

June 8, 2016
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The Fort Myers Beach Matanzas Harbor Municipal Mooring Field has never been a money maker, nor has it ever been intended to be.

During the Town Council workshop Monday morning, quite a bit of time was devoted to discussion on how it could be made to at least break even.

Scott Baker, public works director, said in his analysis that a six-year review showed the field operated at a loss of $373,301. Incorporating the contract to Matanzas Inn, which provides the amenities, including a public dinghy dock, laundry room, restrooms, showers with changing areas, vending and ice machines, the operating loss is $832,037.

Baker presented to council an online reservation system for consideration called Dockwa, a web-based application which renters would use to make a reservation for a mooring ball via credit card. The cost to the town would be 3 percent.

The mooring field, a place where boats and ships can go out and anchor, is in Matanzas Pass and boasts 70 mooring balls available for public rental year-round, and accommodates vessels up to 48 feet in length.

Mooring ball rental fees are $16/day, $91/week or $276/month plus taxes. The fees include pump-out services and amenities and are at the low end of the cost spectrum compared to those elsewhere, the analysis said.

The services have been executed by Matanzas Inn, but the contract with them is set to expire in November. The contract includes two one-year options.

Baker said the town could either bid out the amenities, explore their options throughout the town, or exercise the option with Matanzas Inn, which seemed agreeable to those on council, as they have been happy with their performance.

Baker said the field's peak season is from January to March, when it averages 50 boats per day. Overall, it holds 30 per day. Last year, Baker said the field had its best year ever, with the field experiencing maximum capacities for the first time.

In other business, the council is considering getting out of the farmer's market business. Council member Anita Cereceda said she has seen many incarnations of the market throughout the last 20 years and every one of them has been a failure.

"It started in Times Square, then moved under the bridge where it was a failure before it took off. We've had a hard time collecting from vendors and we've had complaints about the parking because we hold it in season," Cereceda said. "It's a commercial venture we have no business being in."

Mayor Dennis Boback agreed that it is a commercial venture, with the consensus being to take it out of the budget, adding there are numerous companies that put on farmer's markets successfully and that maybe they should handle it.



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