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Port Orange Observer Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 8 months ago

Decade-old Port Orange marina project reemerges

The project was approved by City Council in 2009, but was never built. Now, a new development team is taking the helm.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

It's been 10 years, and the Intracoastal Oasis Marina project on Dunlawton Bridge project has once again bubbled up to the surface.

The marina, to consist of 102 boat slips and one building, was first approved by Port Orange City Council in 2009, but never got developed. It made an appearance again in 2018, but past developer Joe Calderwood didn't pursue the project past the pre-application process.

That's something development team Brian Albano and Colby Harkrader want to change, as they are purchasing the land from Calderwood to develop the marina themselves. 

“Our goal is to be one of the nicest places in Port Orange, and I really do believe we can achieve that goal," Albano said.

They're aware the marina project comes bundled with a decade-long list of concerns, but Albano said they're aiming to "enhance" what's there now. They're looking into including an observatory in the marina for people to enjoy the nearby bird rookery, adding a public sidewalk and implementing floating concrete docks that Albano said can become artificial reefs. 

Before the development team can do all that, they have to gain approval from the City Council to reestablish the current master development agreement and conceptual development plan. The agreement approved in 2009 also included installation of entry and directional signage throughout Causeway Park as well as the creation of a third lane to be used as a stacking lane for boaters waiting to launch their boats, according to the city manager's weekly update from Oct. 4.

“Quite frankly, even if it were to get past my council, and they were to overcome my objections, and be able to mitigate it properly, they’ve got a very high bar to jump over," Mayor Don Burnette said.

He detailed three major concerns with the project: increased traffic in an already busy area, proximity to the bird rookery and impacting the quality of life for the Seabird Island residents who would be next-door to the marina. 

The boat launch under the bridge is busy, the mayor said, and there are existing problems with parking that backs up to Seabird Island. The fill needed to for the marina's parking lot and service building also trouble him. As the city continues to build out, Burnette said officials need to be sensitive and smart about what is being constructed.

“It could be a very quality development, and I expect that they want to develop a quality project, but where it is and because of the other mitigating circumstances, this one is a tough one for me," Burnette said.

The development team for the marina has submitted any formal plans yet, but Albano expects that to happen in the next few months. It's early in the process, he said, and what his team wants is feedback and ideas of how to make the marina project better for the city. 

He and Harkrader are "all ears," he said. They've reached out to Seabird Island residents as well as the Halifax River Audubon Society. The project will get built eventually, Albano said, even if he and Harkrader aren't the ones to do it — though Albano doubts there will ever be a development team "more willing to accommodate concerns" than he and Harkrader.

“We really don’t want to take a situation and make it worse," Albano said. "We have the right people in place that are doing the research that is necessary to try to alleviate some of that pressure, and not add to it.”

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