Commissioners Vote To Cancel West OC Sailboat Lease; 5-2 Vote Ends $8,500 Contract

Commissioners Vote To Cancel West OC Sailboat Lease; 5-2 Vote Ends $8,500 Contract
Photo courtesy of Alyosha's Facebook page at Sail Alyosha

SNOW HILL – The Worcester County Commissioners this week opted to end an agreement that provided a sailboat with space at the commercial harbor.

The commissioners voted 5-2 Tuesday to give the connections of the Alyosha, the sailboat that docks at the West Ocean City Commercial Harbor, notice that they were canceling the boat’s lease.

“Putting this use there was wrong,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said.

In 2019, the commissioners approved a five-year lease with the Alyosha that allowed the sailboat to dock in a 64-foot space that runs along the bulkhead at the county boat ramp. The lease cost the boat $8,500 a year and gave the county exclusive rights to sell advertising and corporate sponsorships on the Alyosha.

Bunting asked staff how much the county had actually collected for the lease.

Kelly Rados, director of recreation and parks, said the county had collected the $8,500 but had paid the Alyosha $5,500 for advertising.

“In essence they paid $3,000 for the slip,” Commissioner Chip Bertino said.

Rados added that at the completion of the last season, it was made clear to the boat’s owner that moving forward the $8,500 lease would be due in full and that there would be no credit or payment from the county for running the Maryland’s Coast sail.

Bunting said he hadn’t supported the agreement with the sailboat when it first came up back in 2019.

“I think the dock is better used for people unloading their boats and having a place to tie up and … and wait while they’re waiting for the opportunity to reload their boat,” he said. “I think that’s what the use of the dock, that area there, is for.”

Commissioner Joe Mitrecic, who represents Ocean City, said he’d received no complaints about the sailboat. He said he’d also talked to Bud Church and that the former District 3 commissioner hadn’t received any complaints about the sailboat lease either.

“I don’t see what the issue is with this,” Mitrecic said. “It’s not a huge amount of revenue but it certainly is a lot more revenue than some of the other ideas that have come out of this county.”

He noted that the $8,500 revenue could have covered the deficit of the county’s ice rink, which the commissioners voted earlier Tuesday to get rid of.

Both the ice rink and the sailboat lease were originally brought to the commissioners by Tom Perlozzo, who at the time was the county’s director of recreation and parks. In the case of the sailboat, Perlozzo suggested the commissioners allow the Alyosha’s owners to dock the 50-foot boat at the harbor, in the space in front of the public restrooms. Perlozzo told the commissioners the county would get the $8,500 for the lease fee as well as half the revenues derived from advertising and corporate sponsorships displayed on the boat’s sails and flags.

“To be honest with you, if we’re going to spend the next months or whatever undoing what the previous board of commissioners did and what Mr. Perlozzo brought to us, I’m out,” Mitrecic said. “Call me when we want to do some real business.”

Commissioner Ted Elder said he felt the county needed to honor the agreement it had made with the sailboat’s connections.

“To just pull the rug out from under somebody after you made an agreement with them is wrong,” he said. “I’ve lived up to my agreements and I feel we should live up to ours.”

He added, however, that the county should reevaluate paying the boat for advertising.

Commissioner Eric Fiori said the sailboat was in his district.

“I use that boat ramp on a regular basis,” he said. “What I will say is it’s really affected the flow of the boat ramp, and the delay, it’s taking time for folks to load and unload their boats because there’s nowhere for them to stage their boats.”

He added that the county should consider the fee associated with the lease.

“If you were to rent this slip commercially… you’re talking about a pennies on the dollar lease for the amount of real estate that this particular boat takes up,” Fiori said.

He said he didn’t think the lease was “a fair deal” for the county.

“I think the detriment that we’re having to our recreational boaters is far greater than the $8,500, and if you add the advertising, considerably less than that,” he said. “I think it’s a disservice to constituents of the county.”

When Commissioner Diana Purnell asked if the connections of the Alyosha had been advised the lease was being discussed, staff said they had not.

“Aren’t we obligated to let him know?” Purnell asked.

Roscoe Leslie, the county’s attorney, said the commissioners would be giving the boat’s owner the 90 days’ notice that the contract required.

Bunting added that the county wasn’t not honoring its agreement with the Alyosha, as the contract stated that it could be canceled for any reason with 90 days’ notice.

The commissioners voted 5-2, with Mitrecic and Purnell opposed, to give the boat’s connection the 90 days’ notice that the contract was being canceled.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.