City Dock lease is extended

Chesapeake Marine agrees to higher rent

January 26, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

A longtime water tour company in Annapolis has renewed its agreement with the city, agreeing to pay more but landing a longer and more secure lease.

Chesapeake Marine Tours, which has been leasing part of City Dock since 1972, agreed to increase its rent by more than $8,000 a year and will continue to pay for trash collection and electricity. In return, the company's lease will be extended from five to six years, and neither side will be able to end the lease without cause.

"Even the best tenants have to pay a fair market price when they are leasing taxpayers' property," said Alderman Herbert H. McMillan.

The city council approved the lease agreement at its public hearing Monday night, at which residents, past Chesapeake Marine Tours employees and tourism officials spoke in support of the company. The money from the lease will be placed in an enterprise fund, and any surplus could be used for general-fund spending.

"Chesapeake Marine Tours has been a good partner," said company President Debbie H. Gosselin, who spoke in favor of the lease agreement.

The company had been leasing part of the City Dock for about $24,000, with an adjustable rate for electricity and refuse collection. The five-year lease began in 1994 and would have rolled over to another five-year lease if the contract had not been changed by yesterday.

The council amended the lease Monday night to bring it in line with a law passed last year that requires charging fair-market value for leasing city property and to make the lease coincide with the city's fiscal year of July 1 to June 30.

The company will pay a base rent of $32,620 annually, with the adjustable fee for electricity and refuse collection. Alderman Joseph Sachs, who introduced the amendment with McMillan and Alderman Michael Fox, said the new fee was determined by the City Dock master.

"It's based on what he's getting and what the competition is getting," Sachs said.

Mayor Dean L. Johnson said the city has at least 30 commercial leases. He said Chesapeake Marine Tours was very receptive to the increase in payments.

"In this case, they cooperated very freely with our desire to amend the lease," Johnson said.

The company offers a variety of activities, including narrated boat tours, lunch, dinner and cocktail cruises and educational field trips. Chesapeake Marine Tours also offers a water-taxi service.

Peggy Wall, president of the Anne Arundel County and Annapolis Visitors Bureau, said Chesapeake Marine Tours is important to the city, offering visitors a unique boating experience.

A former employee said working at the dock helped him become a sea captain. "It brought people like me up through the ranks," he told the council.

Sachs said the company has been been a very good tenant.

"They've [Chesapeake Marine Tours] done a really good job," Sachs said. "They have a really good operation. There have been no complaints."

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