The idea of leasing the houseboat for use as a bait shop is a rare bit of political legerdemain aimed at keeping the Rural Development Business Enterprise Grant without fully meeting the grant requirements, or at least without meeting the requirements on time.
To be fair to the council members, they do appear to be trying to comply with the grant requirements. They just seem to have gotten ahead of themselves in spending the money and behind the curve in fulfilling their obligations.
The city got the USDA grant to buy the old D&S Marina property and develop Riverside Landing into a full-service marina with boat launch, bait and tackle, gasoline and possibly a restaurant. The grant paid about a third of the cost of the property. In return, the grant requires that some marina structures be leased out to businesses that create jobs.
In order to do that, the city would have to get a permit from the county health department to allow increased sewage output; yet, the existing septic system is inadequate to accommodate more than the current use. Expanding the septic system is not feasible because there’s no room for more field lines.
The mayor and council are looking at providing a city sewer line to the marina if either grant or stimulus money can be arranged to pay for it, but that’s not going to happen by May 15.
A business as small as a bait shop, however, could possibly satisfy the leasing and job-creation requirement without overtaxing the septic system. It’s one of the services planned for the marina anyway, and having it in place by mid-May would buy the city more time to arrange the means to accomplish the rest of its goals.
Many things still could go wrong. The council in all likelihood will not be ready to lease the houseboat by the middle of May. The county health department still could give the idea the thumbs down. The grant administrator could determine that a one-person bait shop does not satisfy the job-creation requirement and could refuse to budge on the deadline.
What would happen then? It might be time to start looking for a $100,000 loan.
This is a fine kettle of fish.