Augusta still looking for Riverwalk Marina operator after eviction

Augusta Riverwalk Marina

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The city of Augusta is trying, again, to find a company to run its downtown marinas after evicting the former operator.

The Augusta Port Authority sent out a request for a new company two months ago, but has yet to find any that are qualified.

Meanwhile, the parks and recreation department is running the riverfront facilities.

The city spent nearly two years trying to evict the former marina operator, Mobile Marine, after Port Authority officials say the company stopped paying rent and utility bills.

The Savannah RiverKeeper says after evicting Mobile Marine the city realized the agreement was badly written.

“Some of the land wasn’t owned by the Port Authority that it had signed the lease on. The terms weren’t that good. There was not a whole lot of checks and balances built-in,” Tonya Bonitatibus said.

She says one of those checks and balances should have been the condition of the docked boats. Many of them are in bad shape, rusty and falling apart.

“First and foremost, I’d like to see a marina where we have all fully operational boats, fully licensed, fully insured and ones that we weren’t constantly worried about sinking,” Bonitatibus said.

The city is currently talking with boat owners to find out who owns each boat and if any have been abandoned.

“With the marina operator not leaving relatively willingly, there were not a whole lot of records that were left behind,” Bonitatibus said.

She says the new agreement will allow the future company to operate the marina however it wants.

The company can even add boat, kayak and canoe rentals to the riverfront.

“Seeing a place that has, you know, some food in the shop that will bring folks down. The bathrooms actually being kept clean on a regular basis so it becomes a jewel again for the city,” Bonitatibus said.

The RiverKeeper says the city is looking for someone with 2 years of marina experience.

“You need to be able to keep your records and work very closely with the city and uphold the parameters that are set forth in the agreement,” Bonitatibus said.

She believes there will be a larger number of candidates this time around because the request has been sent out further.

There is a pre-bid meeting scheduled with the city next month.

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