Proposed Marriott boat slips draw fear
It is only an idea at this point. A business venture being thrown around.
But talk of the Marriott Suites on Sand Key potentially building 40 boat slips on the Intracoastal Waterway has instilled fear and anger in many of its neighbors.
The proposed spot for the boat slips is directly behind the hotel, adjacent to the Clearwater Community Sailing Center in the same water where children, wounded veterans and inexperienced boaters learn to sail.
“These big boats will be coming in exactly where these youngsters and amputees and people like that are sailing these boats,” said Lynn Summerson, chair of the Clearwater Environmental Advisory Board, at the group's meeting Wednesday. “Obviously this is a tragedy waiting to happen. One of these days...they're going to hit some child or they're going to hit somebody who's an amputee in one of those sailboats, and they're going to hit them or kill them.”
Summerson is worried boaters will go straight from the hotel bar to the wheel of their vessels, then right into the path of vulnerable sailing students.
Marriott general manager Michael Miraglia says there's really nothing to worry about.
“We are a very family oriented facility, and so this is not what I would consider a big party oriented hotel,” he said.
The hotel is still in the planning stage and will not submit an application to the city until they receive results of an environmental study determining how boat slips may impact the Intracoastal's sea grass.
The idea is to make the slips available to hotel guests and also rent them on a monthly basis to boaters.
Miraglia said he is also consulting with the Sailing Center and neighborhood associations to get input.
But that didn't go so well about eight years ago, when the hotel pitched a similar plan that got shot down by neighbors.
“It's something we are exploring again,” Miraglia said. “We're explored the idea a few years ago, and it didn't seem to be a good fit at that point in time.”
Citing danger to sailing students, manatees and sea grass, the Environmental Advisory Board passed a motion on Wednesday expressing “strong opposition” to the building of the slips.
Although advisory board has no impact on the permitting process, Summerson said he hopes it makes a statement.
“Two drinks, that's all it takes, and your perception is off,” he said.