This is a proposed rendering of a splash pad and rebuilt skate park at the Marathon Community Park. The next step is to put the project out to bid. STEVE HURLEY, DDAI/Contributed

Marathon council and its citizens finally have a drawing to look at of a possible splash park. Last month, the council asked staff to select the most suitable location as a first step and the result is a corner of Marathon Community Park currently occupied by the skatepark. Outgoing city manager Chuck Lindsey told the council that the location is ideal because it has the proper infrastructure.

“It works holistically for more than just daily operations, but also with other events,” said Lindsey.

The design of the splash park includes more than one water feature, pavilions, space for tables and loungers, and a building to house an attendant and lockers.

The proposed rebuild of the skatepark would be across the parking lot, on the eastern edge of the park and would feature concrete construction. Lindsey said that building a concrete park only costs $5 to $10 more per square foot than a wooden structure. He also said it’s possible the skatepark could generate revenue by hosting professional and competitive skateboarding events.

“The skatepark is used by a lot of kids. Any evening there are about 20 kids using it,” Lindsey said. “What I recommend is moving it to the other side of the parking lot and constructing it out of concrete instead of wood. Every year, for as long as I can remember, we’ve had to allocate funds to make the improvements to that park. It’s a daily chore and the repairs only last so long.”

The next step is for the city to put out the project to bid.

“I would hire separate designers for each side of the project, though. I don’t think you want a skatepark designer to design a splash pad or vice versa,” Lindsey said.

The rendering was created by Steve Hurley, of DDAI Associates. 

In other news:

  • After searching the city’s database, it was discovered that two-thirds, or 68%, of vacation rentals in Marathon have out-of-town owners/managers who, presumably, hire locals to take care of the properties. Growth Management Director Doug Lewis told the council that will make enforcing rules regarding trash and litter more challenging. The council directed staff to perform “drive-bys” on Mondays and Thursdays in problem areas, notify managers, and then follow up within an hour to see if the area has been cleaned up (as stated in the city’s vacation rental code). At that point, the city will start issuing citations. The City of Marathon currently has 748 vacation rentals registered.

“If the tickets go to the homeowner — wherever they are, Nova Scotia — and they keep getting ticket after ticket, at some point they are going to realize their (property manager) is not doing their job,” said Councilman Mark Senmartin. 

  • City staff has written a $3.3 million grant application for the Old Quay property. If awarded, the funds would pay for a new seawall, trails, etc. 
  • The Marathon Seafood Festival organizers made an early, informal application for use of Marathon Community Park and waiver of impact fees in order to begin planning. The council agreed and organizers agreed to update the council in the new year. The Seafood Festival is typically held mid-March.
  • Marlin Bay Yacht Club received approval to extend maximum stays at wet slips to six months during any year, expand the allowed commercial use of its retail and restaurants, and confirmed the nonresidential commercial floor area of up to 11,500 feet. Representatives for Marlin Bay Yacht Club withdrew — and said they will re-write and submit again — petitions to convert market rate building rights to transient residential units (or hotel rooms) and remove affordable deed restrictions on 8 units already developed in lieu of payment to the city’s affordable housing fund. Neither is currently allowed under the city’s code. The entire motion to amend the developer’s agreement almost failed, however, when Councilman Dan Zieg noted there was a code violation against the property for renting rooms by the night, which the facility does not have permission to do. Attorney Bart Smith said he would address the alleged infraction with Marlin Bay’s operators. “I will work with my client on a response to that,” he said. 
  • Right next door to Marlin Bay Yacht Club, Boat Works LLC submitted a revised development agreement for the property that would include up to 20 market rate units, 83,000 square feet of commercial space and 32 boat slips (22 for transient captains, and 10 for permanent liveaboards). The development currently has 12 of the needed 20 market rate building rights. 
  • The City of Marathon agreed to replat a piece of property on 11th street into seven parcels for single-family homes, plus an extra communal area co-owned by all. The common area is required because the lots are smaller than normally allowed, while still meeting the density rules. 
  • Since 2018, the Building Department has paid out almost $160,000 to builders seeking a refund for private inspectors and plan reviewers instead of utilizing city personnel. Now, the city is giving an upfront discount: 13% off the building fee permit for private inspectors when noted at the time of application or 25% off the permit fee for private inspectors and plans reviewers at the time of application. Builders that decide to use private inspectors or plan reviewers after the permit is issued will pay a $200 administrative fee. Once the first city inspection is completed, builders cannot elect to have a private provider.  

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