Boat club responds to mayor’s offer for waterfront property

By Derrick Perkins (File photo)

Old Dominion Boat Club leadership presented their counteroffer for the group’s waterfront parking lot last week, but it falls well short of handing the property over to City Hall.

The club’s proposed solution would see a 25-foot-wide pedestrian walkway run along the parking lot’s western edge. But the decades-old organization would retain ownership of the land, instead granting the city an easement on it.

“This compromise position will nearly achieve the city’s goal of a continuous public walkway along the waterfront,” wrote Eric DeSoto, club chairman, in a letter to Mayor Bill Euille. “We believe 25 feet is wider than nearly any other sidewalk or walkway in the city, and in fact, [it’s] wide enough to give the sense of a mini-plaza at that location if the city desires.”

Club leaders presented a similar solution to another one of the city’s longstanding demands, offering to lease adjacent parking spaces for flood mitigation efforts. Again, though, the organization would hold onto the property.

It’s not clear if local officials will accept the club’s proposal. Euille’s nine-point plan to end the years of negotiations for the property — sent in June — called for the organization to sell the parking lot and nearby spaces to City Hall.

A city spokesperson did not return a request for comment by the Times’ print deadline.

Though on-again, off-again negotiations for the shoreline property have dragged on for years, talks heated up with the controversial approval of the waterfront redevelopment plan. The blueprint calls for converting the parking lot into a public plaza, which officials have described as the crown jewel of the proposal’s public improvements.

The club’s counteroffer comes on the heels of news that City Hall is once again seriously considering eminent domain to secure the property. Euille announced the policy shift in a major press conference earlier this month, telling reporters it was time to end the dispute.

Officials will open up the issue to the public at a hearing next month. The city council will decide whether to proceed with eminent domain shortly thereafter.

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