If you build it, they will pay.
Sarasota's bayfront mooring field is proving to be financially successful after a month of charging sailors for use.
The mooring field opened on Aug. 31 as part of a pilot program initiated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission along with an anchorage ordinance that prohibits vessels anchoring outside of the mooring field for more than 90 days. The mooring field is essentially a floating parking lot for boats to tie off to floating balls, reserving short-term and long-term spots.
The anchorage and mooring field programs were designed to help remove derelict boats from the water creating hazards after tropical storms and hurricanes when boats routinely crash on shore.
After two months of free operation, Marina Jack and the city began charging Nov. 1 and through 30 days, the operation showed a $2,000 surplus, said Sam Chavers, who is the marina's director of operations.
"We're coming into prime boating season for sailors and traveling boaters going up and down the west coast, and I think that's going to be a benefit as well," Chavers told the City Commission on Monday, adding that the city and Marina Jack didn't advertise the mooring field's availability.
Sailors pay according to vessel size, ranging from $18 to $25 per day or rent a month for $250 to $345.
The 35 mooring field spots feature longterm and shorterm rentals. The longterm rentals have a 75 percent occupancy rate while 64 vessels visited during November for daily and short-term usage, Chavers said. Ten boaters left the field when the charges started, he added.
Chavers predicts that if the city adds more spaces to the 109 maximum, they will be filled as well.
Marina Jack added services included a shuttle vessel so boaters don't have to use their dingy and provide free Wi-Fi in the mooring field.
Sarasota joined Marathon, Key West, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg and Monroe County to participate in the pilot mooring field program. All ordinances adopted under the pilot program expire on July 1, 2014, unless re-enacted by the Florida Legislature.
Related Mooring Field Coverage:
- City Anchoring Plans Draw Harsh Criticism
- Anchoring Ordinance May Be Introduced Monday
- Anchorage Ordinance Setting Sail
- FWC Approves Sarasota's Proposed Anchoring Ordinance