Augusta Port Authority began eviction proceedings Thursday against longtime marina operator Mobile Marine for failure to pay rent “for many months” and other unspecified reasons.
After a half-hour closed-door session with two city attorneys, the authority voted unanimously to terminate the contract with Mobile Marine, which involves riverfront lands owned by the city, the authority and Augusta’s Downtown Development Authority.
Augusta general counsel Andrew MacKenzie said the eviction was delayed because all three owners had to act in concert to prevent Mobile Marine from simply relocating from one riverfront spot to another.
Authority member Tonya Bonitatibus, the executive director of the Savannah Riverkeeper, said that “the whole thing is really unfortunate” but that Thursday’s move might allow Augusta to improve its riverfront, “so we can actually have the marina Augusta needs.”
Authority member Frank Carl said the next step will be seeking a new operator for the city’s boat slips and warehouse, and developing an ordinance to deal with derelict vessels.
“We have to move along,” Carl said.
Griff Griffin, who sublets part of the city-owned property from Mobile Marine, defended company owner Mike Stacy, who did not attend. The company has run the marina for 14 years. A 2007 lease shows the rent as $1,500 a month.
“Once it goes to court, he’s going to present 100-and-something exhibits showing violations of the contract,” said Griffin, who has a teepee at the site and owns Augusta CrimeStoppers.
The authority and Mobile Marine have been at odds for several years, with Stacy accusing members of burglary last year for entering one of the marina buildings. In January, when Bonitatibus reported six boats had gone missing from their city slips, marina dockmaster Steve Daly claimed there were just two boats, occupied by squatters, that had drifted away.