The outgoing Skaha Marina operator says the City of Penticton’s decision to bring in a new group to manage the facility feels like a slap in the face.
“It’s a family business and we revitalized the marina, we gave it our heart and soul and I guess that wasn’t enough,” Randy Gallagher said in an interview Thursday.
He now plans to formally appeal the city’s decision.
“All I know is we came to a very run down marina, we started the business, we took an asset from the town and turned it around and through hard work it has a great reputation and the city sold it to the highest bidder,” Gallagher said.
“Right now our family just feels like the rug has been pulled from under us.”
The city announced Wednesday that it had selected the Penticton Yacht Club-led bid from three, including Gallagher’s, that were submitted in response to a request for proposals issued last fall.
Gallagher has operated the marina for the past three seasons as something of a caretaker as the city figured out what to do with the facility following the Trio Marine Group fiasco.
A hallmark aspect of the winning bid is a commitment for a $2.5 million private investment in the renovation of the existing marina building to accommodate a licensed restaurant, cafe and more.
According to Anthony Haddad, the town’s general manager of community services, that money comes from David Prystay, one of the owners of the Penticton Lakeside Resort, through a holding company that operates the Barking Parrot Pub and the Hooded Merganser restaurant. of the hotel.
Gallagher acknowledged that his offer did not include that kind of upfront capital investment, but said he offered to pay $120,000 a year for the marina lease. The winning bid is based on a lease of $45,000 per year, plus capital investments totaling approximately $3 million over the first five years.
“This is a case where a small businessman got kicked out because a bigger player came in with more money,” Gallagher said.
“We responded in the proposal to (the city’s) taste on every single thing the city wanted and we still haven’t gotten it. The only difference is that Penticton Lake Resort and David Prystay are teaming up with the yacht club, they now have millions of dollars up front.
“I don’t think the townspeople understand the intricacies of running a marina, they just looked at the dollar signs.”
Gallagher also accused the city of “changing the rules of the game” during the bidding process, noting that the winning bid failed to meet the city’s original requirement to include vertical storage. Instead, boat storage and valet services are to be moved offsite to make way for green space and landscaping improvements around the marina building.
According to Haddad, since the information contained in the three offers is “proprietary”, the actual offers will not be published.
“The city said it would be an open and transparent process and it’s not,” Gallagher said, noting that the parks and recreation advisory committee and city council endorsed the winning bid in meetings at behind closed doors.
Along the same lines, Gallagher is concerned that Marc Tougas, commodore of the Penticton Yacht Club, is a member of the parks and recreation advisory committee.
Asked by the Herald about Tougas’ involvement, Haddad said: “Marc Tougas declared a conflict of interest during the Skaha Lake Marina review process and he was not involved in the process at all. examination of tenders.”
Finally, Gallagher is unhappy with the March 31 deadline for him to end operations after three seasons.
“I had to order boats last year for this summer, so I have million dollar boats in the parking lot or on the way,” he said. “I have about 20 staff members and they are all laid off. I can’t hire them if I don’t have a marina, so they’ll all be out there looking for jobs.
“We had everything lined up and ready to go and big plans for the future and now it’s not going to happen.”
Despite all this, Gallagher still thinks the yacht club will do a good job with the marina, but warned the public to keep an eye on things.
“Parks are meant to be there for everyone, not just members,” said Gallagher, who invited the public to use amenities, like outdoor seating, at the marina.
“Skaha Marina is owned by the people of Penticton, not a private club.”
Others involved in the winning bid include Josie Tyabji, who will ensure the operation of the marina meets city goals; Graham Perrie, general manager of the yacht club; and Mark Melissen and Jordan McCallum of the Penticton Boat Club and Rentals.