Men's Breakfast Report, February 2008
The Men’s Breakfast group met Saturday, February 9th with Gary Beverly, the new Freeport City Manager. Gary replaced Ron Bottoms, the former manager, who is now city manager of Texas City. Gary has been with the city for several years and was formerly the finance director.
Our discussion ranged over many topics, including a complaint by one of our members about drainage. Gary took notes about the complaint and promised to look into the matter. Gary plans to be more conciliatory than Ron Bottoms, although he thinks Ron’s style may have been necessary to get things started.
The major discussion was about the marina. The dry stack storage building, which will take boats up to forty feet in length, is under construction. The permit for construction of the slips has finally been received from the Corps of Engineers and construction is starting. There has been a well publicized groundbreaking ceremony. Gary said that after the ceremony he heard there was considerable interest in renting slips and even heard from people who are now interested in downtown Freeport property.
The litigation about the marina was of considerable interest. When Wright Gore started legal proceedings, the city decided it had to use eminent domain on three properties that were needed for the marina. One property on the seaward end of the marina has been adjusted amicably by trading property that the city owned for the needed property. This has also allowed the marina to move away from the Gore property so not as much of that property is desired. For a third property, the dispute was over price. When Walker Royal was going to develop the property, he was not willing to pay the amount the owner wanted. Now that the Economic Development Corporation is doing the development, the city was able to meet the owner’s asking price and settle the suit. The Western Seafood land is no longer needed as much but the suit and appeals are still going forward. The problem is that if the city just drops the suit, the city will owe all the court costs of $400,000. The city believes it can win on appeal and save most of these costs.
The marina docks have been redesigned to reduce the interference between shrimp boats going to Western Seafood and yachts at the marina. Wright Gore wants a large separation between the two because the shrimp boats have to partially lower their outriggers to get through the guillotine gate and this makes them take up a wide swath.
There was also discussion about city beautification. A grant has been received to extend the refurbishment of Rte. 288 to Second Street. Grants have also been received to refurbish sewer lines. The walking trail in the park will be extended. The present clay surface was put in for the benefit of a marathon, and some people complained about it because it is not suitable for bicycles. Gary says that the surface will be changed.
As usual, the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. All men are invited to our next breakfast, March 8, where Robert Dohle, new priest at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, will be the featured guest.